Down East 2013 ©
According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a think tank promoting local control and community building, Maine is one of 39 states that provides some preference to bids for government contracts from in-state companies. Specifically, in the case of tie bids between a Maine company and an out-of-state one, the former bid is given preference.
Steven Butterfield, a freshman state representative from Bangor, wants to go a bit further. His bill, An Act To Strengthen Maine Small Business by Establishing a Preference Percentage for State Contract Bids  would tack on a 15-percent penalty to any out-of-state companies competing for a government contract against a Maine small business which meets certain criteria (including having fewer than 50 employees, a majority of whom are Maine residents, and providing them with health and retirement benefits).
A 15-percent preference would put Maine first in the nation in terms of local business support. According to this chart, only Arkansas has such a high local preference advantage. 
The upside for the state from this legislation could be big. A recent study by the state of South Carolina examined one bidding process and found that paying $50,000 more to support a local company led to more than $2.1 million in increased tax revenue and other financial benefits to the state.
A downside to the bill might be that other states will respond in kind. In fact, 35 states already have "reciprocal laws" that would automatically disadvantage the bids of Maine-based businesses by the same amount. In fact, Maine already has its own reciprocal law on the books.
As Butterfield's bill goes to a public hearing on February 23rd, there's a chance it could get some support from a group that doesn't usually support Democratic legislation. Ever since their website www.maineopengov.org went live, showing information on how Maine's government spends its money, the Maine Heritage Policy Center has been championing the cause of the state buying local. Here's a blog post on the subject from October,  and here's an op-ed from the Portland Press Herald  last week faulting the state for spending outside its borders. It will be interesting to see whether they support the bill or not, if their concern for Maine's economy will trump their free market ideals.
In other political news this week...
Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe will support the stimulus package.
But only after Collins led a bipartisan group to shrink the bill, reducing funding for education and the states. 
Poland Spring is a top target of legislation this session.