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Legislative Update for January 19, 2023

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
January 19, 2023

Happy New Year Community Advocates!

Welcome to the First Regular Session of the 131st Maine Legislature, which convened for the first time on December 7, 2022, and is set to adjourn on June 21, 2023. We look forward to keeping you updated throughout the session and sharing frequent opportunities to advocate and take action. As we enter a new year of advocacy, there are many issues that affect our communities, such as housing, homelessness, child care, and access to health care.

These issues are critical to United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM), and our goal in this session is to support you in speaking out for change. UWSM amplifies the voices of our partners, advocates, and volunteers on important community issues and urges our public officials to fight for policies that give kids a strong start, empower our neighbors to thrive, and help everyone live longer and better.

To get the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, sign up at https://p2a.co/18Gvy47 or email advocacy@uwsme.org

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUSTA:

Proposed Biennial Budget: Last week, Governor Mills unveiled her proposed budget to the Maine Legislature for the Fiscal Years 2024-2025 (read more about her budget proposal). Both chambers will have time to discuss the proposed budget in the weeks and months to come. We will continue to update you about any issues on which advocacy could be useful.

Heating and housing assistance: On January 4, the Maine Legislature approved and passed LD 3 – An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program. This bill includes funds for heating assistance as well as funds to bolster an emergency relief housing fund to help people experiencing homelessness. Both forms of assistance are essential and needed by so many Maine families, especially as the cost of rent, energy, and heating fuel continues to rise. It is important that Mainers in need can remain housed and stay warm this winter.

Revisor’s Office/Introduced Bills: The Legislature is still in orientation, though plenty of work is happening. We have learned that more than 2,000 bills have been submitted to the Revisor’s Office and some of these bills have already started to be published and referred to the appropriate committees. We are following closely the complete list of introduced bill titles, which is available now. Some of these bill titles will be combined while others would be carried over into the second Session of the 131st Maine Legislature. We are working to identify those bills that align with the UWSM 2023 Public Policy Agenda so that we can support and advocate for their passage.

Both the House and Senate plan to meet in person this session.

United Way’s Public Policy Agenda: UWSM supports bills within the context of the annual public policy agenda approved by the Board of Directors and in support of Thrive2027.

UPDATES FROM UWSM:

United Way of Southern Maine tackles our most challenging community issues by focusing on equity—ensuring people and communities get what they need to thrive. There are many different issues United Way is working to address simultaneously. We are interested in hearing your thoughts about which ones deserve the most attention now.

Imagine you are a community investment volunteer who helps decide how United Way invests $1,200 of donated funds. How would you want those funds invested in our community? Share your voice in this brief survey.

If you would like to know more about how you can advocate for a thriving community, please contact us at advocacy@uwsme.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.

To get the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, sign up at https://p2a.co/18Gvy47 or email advocacy@uwsme.org

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