Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday nominated a former lawmaker who lost re-election in 2016 after heavy local criticism on conservation issues to serve on the board of the Land for Maine’s Future program.
Former state Rep. Michael Timmons, R-Cumberland, is LePage’s nominee to serve on the board. It steers public funding to conservation projects and has protected more than 500,000 acres statewide, but it has been a main point of contention between the Republican governor and environmentalists.
For much of 2015, LePage held up the issuance of $11.5 million in voter-approved conservation bonds, trying to get the Maine Legislature to agree to a plan to increase timber harvesting on public land to fund energy upgrades for low-income Mainers.
The issue may have claimed Timmons’ political career: He was one of six Republicans who initially voted in 2015 to support a bill cutting the governor out of his bond-issuing role, but then switched their positions to support LePage’s veto. More than $250,000 for a conservation project in Cumberland was held up then, and the town manager blasted Timmons at a 2015 meeting.
The Senate has to confirm the appointment. Before that, Timmons will have a hearing before the Legislature’s agriculture committee.