FILE - ME Ben Chipman

Maine state Sen. Ben Chipman.

(The Center Square) – The Maine Legislature’s Joint Taxation Committee recently voted not to support a bill that would have given tax credits to businesses that create remote jobs in rural areas.

According to a report at freepressonline.com, Maine has one of the country’s highest percentages of people working remotely, with roughly 5.5 percent of people employed in full-time telecommuting jobs.

State Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Cumberland, who sponsored the bill, LD 1980, “An Act To Create Incentives for Employers To Allow Employees to Work Remotely in Rural Maine,” said it would help address the needs of rural workers who need better paying jobs.

“As Mainers in rural communities struggle to find work near home and feel pressured to leave for cities like Lewiston, Bangor or Portland, working remotely can offer an opportunity for them to continue living in their homes, while also taking advantage of job opportunities which are not close to where they live,” Chipman said when introducing the bill on Feb 13.

Liz Trice of Peloton Labs, a coworking business in Portland, brought the bill to the Legislature.

“I believe there is a great opportunity to reinvigorate Maine small towns and rural areas by creating a culture of remote work in Maine, so that people can move back to the towns they know and love, bring their jobs, and share their connection to the urban and global marketplace for jobs with fellow residents,” Trice said in testimony before the committee.

The measure proposed a $4,000 incentive to the employer and $4,000 to the employee, both for up to five years.

According to a report posted on Mainebiz, Rep. Maureen Terry, D-Gorham, said the household income requirement perhaps needed adjusting, and the bill reworked for more rural parts of the state.

Rep. Ted Kryzak, R-Acton, also asked how the program would function in rural communities currently without broadband access.

The committee voted "ought not to pass" on the bill at its March 10 meeting.