May 15, 2019

Maine Legislator Introduces Pro-Employee Ownership Bill

Executive Director

Maine State Senator Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) introduced L.D. 1520, which would provide state-level tax incentives for businesses that establish employee ownership, defined to include ESOPs and worker cooperatives, as well as consumer cooperatives and affording housing cooperatives. The bill would shelter from Maine's income tax up to $750,000 of gains on a qualifying sale. The bill would also assign Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development responsibility for support and outreach about employee ownership and would exempt interest income earned from financing the sale from state tax for sellers and Maine-based lenders.

One person who spoke in favor of the bill is Michael Newsom, the owner of The W.J. Wheeler Insurance Agency. Worried that if he sells to an outside buyer, they would "eliminate our pro-family workplace culture and maximize the profits to be had," he instead would like to sell to employees: "They'll preserve our culture as a business, they'll be its best stewards, since its success will mean their success, and they'll make investments in themselves as owners and in the community as a whole." Sen. Libby's bill would, he said, help close the gap and make a sale to employees possible.

Maine citizens with an interest in employee ownership could contact their elected officials about this bill.