Legislative Update for January 26, 2024

January 26 2024

Greetings Community Advocates,

Welcome to the inaugural issue of United Way of Southern Maine’s Legislative Update for the 2024 state legislative session, which kicked off this month.  

United Way remains committed to advocating for policies that create meaningful change for individuals and families in Southern Maine.

We are currently monitoring both carry-over and new bills, with a particular emphasis on three essential areas:

Early Learning:  

We believe that every child deserves quality early learning experiences from birth. These foundational years are critical for long-term educational and personal development.

Financial Stability:

Our goal is to ensure that individuals and families have access to education, affordable housing, employment opportunities, and resources necessary for achieving financial independence.

Optimal Health:  

We are dedicated to ensuring that children, adults, and the wider community have the resources and opportunities needed to achieve the best possible health status.

You can view our full 2024 Policy & Advocacy Priorities Agenda here. These are not just policy areas; they are vital components that contribute to the strength and resilience of our community.

Legislation Tracked & Monitored in the Second Regular Session

UWSM supports public policies that advance Thrive2027, a 10-year initiative to achieve measurable progress in the areas of education, financial stability, and health.

So far, in this Second Regular Session of the 131st Maine Legislature, UWSM has taken a position to support the following pieces of legislation:

LD 632 — “An Act to Amend the Social Work Education Loan Repayment Program”

Bill Summary: The bill replaces the current loan forgiveness program with one developed by the Finance Authority of Maine with stakeholder input and also requires stakeholder input on changes to the application process. The bill requires a participant to serve Maine residents, increases the number of loans repaid each year to 25, and increases the amount of repayment for each participant to $20,000. While this program has existed, it has never been funded before.
Bill Status: Currently sits on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee table.

LD 1074 — “An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Fund New Affordable Housing for Low-income Households”

Bill Summary: The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $100,000,000, will be used to build new affordable housing for low-income households by constructing new structures and adaptive reusing existing structures.
Bill Status: Public Hearing held; Work Session not yet scheduled.

LD 1505 — “An Act to Amend the Maine Cooperative Affordable Housing Ownership Act

Bill Summary: This bill aims to make affordable housing more accessible and sustainable for lower-income groups in Maine by establishing and regulating group equity cooperatives and ensuring they have access to necessary financial assistance programs.
Bill Status: Work Session held; Committee voted Ought to Pass as Amended.

LD 1718 — “An Act to Encourage Participation in Maine’s Essential Support Workforce Through Access to Higher Education”

Bill Summary: This bill creates the Essential Support Worker Tuition Grant Program to provide up to 4 education vouchers equal to a year’s tuition up to $4,000 at the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System or Maine Maritime Academy for an essential support worker employed in in-home or community support services reimbursed by the MaineCare program or another state program or a family member of the essential support worker. This bill also expands eligibility of vouchers to include the workers’ spouses, children, or grandchildren.
Bill Status: Currently sits on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee table.

LD 2136 — “An Act to Provide Financial Support for Shelters for Unhoused Individuals”

Bill Summary: The bill appropriates an additional $10 million to fund existing homeless shelters, addressing a critical need given that state funding for emergency shelters has been flat at $2.5 million for the past decade.
Bill Status: This bill recently had its Public Hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Housing on Tuesday, January 23. You can read United Way of Southern Maine’s testimony here.

LD 2167 — “An Act to Develop Maine’s Economy and Strengthen Its Workforce by Establishing an Office of New Americans”

Bill Summary: This bill establishes the Office of New Americans within the Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and also establishes an advisory council to the Office of New Americans.
Bill Status: Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 30 at 1:00 p.m. before the Committee on State and Local Government. Click here to email your state representatives and advocate for this bill.

Help Strengthen Maine’s Workforce: Share Your Story and Advocate for LD 2167

We invite you to join us in a powerful movement to support and empower our Immigrant Communities who have chosen Maine as their home. At the heart of our campaign is advocating for LD 2167, a bill that will create the Office of New Americans in our state. You can email your state representatives by clicking here. It takes just one minute to advocate.

Upcoming Lunch & Learn: Advocacy Training Hosted by UWSM

United Way of Southern Maine invites you to participate in our upcoming virtual “Lunch & Learn” advocacy training session focused on the Maine State Legislature, and how to have your voice heard this session. This engaging one-hour workshop will empower you with the skills to effectively navigate the legislature’s website, search for bills, and understand the legislative calendar. Most importantly, we’ll guide you through the process of writing and submitting impactful testimony. Whether you’re a seasoned advocate or just starting out, this training will offer valuable insights and hands-on experience. This training will be held on Thursday, February 8 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Click here to register.

Get Your Taxes Prepared for Free with CA$H Greater Portland

CA$H Greater Portland is now offering free tax preparation services for 2023. The program is available for households with income below $64,000 in 2023. For those who qualify, this free tax prep service can help you navigate your tax filings in numerous ways. CA$H Maine’s IRS-certified volunteers can help you determine if you qualify for the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits, use direct deposit for a faster refund, help you get the most of your money, and more. Additionally, the service includes advice on financial management and offers free federal and local tax return filing at Appointments are required and can be scheduled by calling 207-347-2309 or emailing More information is available at  

Thank You!

We want to thank you for joining us in this important journey to create positive change in Southern Maine.

Your engagement and support are crucial to our mission, and together, we can make a lasting impact in our community. Thank you for being a part of United Way of Southern Maine’s advocacy efforts.

If you would like to know more about how you can advocate for a thriving community, please contact us at  To get the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, sign up below.