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Democratic leaders establish joint committee to address Maine's housing crisis

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
The Maine State House dome is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Maine Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross have announced that they are creating a new Joint Select Committee on Housing to address Maine's housing crisis.

Jackson says the issue deserves its own committee.

"The intent is to put a bigger spotlight on this one issue. That doesn't mean any other issue in the state, the cost of energy isn't a priority," he says.

Jackson says the state has bonding capacity and could create tax incentives to pay for new initiatives, but he says the first step is to come up with solutions.

"I don't think we're held back. What we need to do is put everything on the table, how we make housing better in Maine and then figure out how we get there," he says.

The Legislature last session established the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities by Studying Land Use Regulations and Short Term Rentals. That commission last month issued its final report outlining recommendations for future legislation. Jackson says the new Joint Select Committee on Housing will build on those efforts.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the order to create the committee on Dec. 7, when the Legislature convenes for its next session.