January 13, 2022
Greetings Community Advocate,
Welcome to a new year and a new round of bi-weekly Legislative Updates from United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM). This update is our welcome back communication warm-up for the Second Legislative Session of the 130th Legislature now underway.
Let’s jump right in!
Both the House and Senate met last week in person; however, all hearings and work sessions will continue to be conducted online.
In December 2021, the State’s Revenue Forecasting Committee revised the General Fund revenue estimates upward by $822.2 million for the 2022-2023 biennium. Both the House and Senate are waiting for the Governor’s supplemental budget toward the end of January 2022. We will keep you posted about important updates.
PRIORITY BILLS FOR 2022:
We are currently evaluating the more than 350 bills that have been introduced for the second session, and are continuing to track five bills carried over from the last session.
With Thrive2027 in mind, our community’s 10-year effort to achieve measurable progress in the areas of education, financial stability, and health; United Way of Southern Maine is watching the following bills that could improve Thrive2027 outcomes in our community.
LD 292 – “An Act To Increase the Minimum Grant Amount under the Maine State Grant Program” (Sponsored by Representative Pierce of Falmouth)
This bill: (1) amends the Maine State Grant Program to make the minimum grant amount under the program, which is administered by FAME (Finance Authority of Maine), not be less than $2,500.
LD 296 – “An Act To Provide a Tax Credit for Family Caregivers” (Sponsored by Representative Kristin Cloutier of Lewiston)
This bill establishes the Family Caregiver Grant Pilot Program to expand the number of families that can be served under the Respite Care Fund. The Respite Care Fund is used to help provide short-term respite care. The pilot program may provide grants to eligible family caregivers of up to $2,000 a year and lasts for 2 years, from October 2022 to September 2024.
LD 372 – “An Act To Provide Maine Children Access to Affordable Health Care” (Sponsored by Senator Anne Carney of Cumberland)
This bill provides health care to low-income children by increasing eligibility and expanding coverage. Specifically, LD 372 makes changes to the Cub Care Program. An amended version raises the maximum eligibility level for family income under the Cub Care program from 200% of the federal poverty level to 300% of the federal poverty level. The amendment also provides coverage under the Cub Care program to persons 19 and 20 years of age.
LD 1235 – “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Connect Maine with a World-class Internet Infrastructure” (Sponsored by Senator Bennett of Oxford)
This bill provides $100 million for grants and loans to provide a world-class affordable high-speed Internet infrastructure to those in Maine with no/bad current connectivity. The funds provided by this bond are estimated to reach 98% of homes and businesses in the State within 5 years.
LD 1652 – “An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce” (Sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford)
This bill directs the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to provide $4.5M for education-based and experience-based salary supplements for early childhood educators working with young children from birth to 5 years of age.
PARTICIPATE IN A PUBLIC HEARING
If you wish to participate in a public hearing during the 130th Maine State Legislature, visit the Maine State Legislature – YouTube Channel. Each committee has its own feed, and at UWSM, we are closely monitoring these three committees:
- Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
- Health and Human Services Committee
- Appropriations and Financial Affairs
All other committees’ public hearings can be found here.
If you would like to know more about how you can advocate for a thriving community, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for raising your hand and offering your support as a volunteer, donor, and advocate. Together we are creating a Southern Maine where everyone can thrive.
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