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UWGP Legislative Update, 5/6/2021

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
May 6, 2021

Greetings Community Advocate,

United Way of Greater Portland (UWGP) is pleased to present the May 6 edition of our Legislative Update. After adjourning for three weeks, the 130th Maine State Legislature returned for a full session on April 28. Both the House and Senate had a busy day, voting on many bills brought to their respective floors.

While the Maine State Legislature was adjourned, the Committees continued their work through public hearings and work sessions, voting on hundreds of bills.

With UWGP and Thrive2027 priorities in mind, advocacy team members and volunteers will track introduced bills and public hearings, keeping you informed about bills that promise to strengthen critical outcomes for our communities. 

This week’s edition includes:

  • State Update
  • Bill Watch List
  • How to Advocate

If you are not currently subscribed and want to have the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, please subscribe with the form at the bottom of this page. 

To connect with our Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Ninette Irabaruta, or contact advocacy@unitedwaygp.org.

STATE UPDATE

The Maine State Legislature reconvened for a special session on April 28. Both the House and Senate voted on many bills brought to their respective floors.

This May is important for this legislative session, during which the rest of the many introduced bills will be printed and scheduled for public hearings and work sessions.

On Tuesday, May 4, Governor Janet Mills unveiled the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, which proposes to invest $1.13 billion in federal funds allocated to Maine under the American Rescue Plan. The Legislature will consider the Governor’s proposal: a healthy process welcomed by Governor Mills.

This proposal has three broad categories:

  1. Immediate economic recovery from the pandemic ($260M);
  2. Long-term economic growth for Maine ($305M); and
  3. Infrastructure revitalization ($547M).

For more information, click here.

MAINE BILLS TO WATCH LIST

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

More than 1,600 bills have been introduced and we are reviewing them as they are published. Of the ones for which we currently have text, we have identified several that strengthen critical outcomes for our communities.

IMPACTS GOALS 1, 2, AND 3 

LD 1034“An Act To Provide Funding To Support the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations” (Introduced by Mike Sylvester of Portland)

This bill provides funding to hire permanent staff to support the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.

The Permanent Commission is an independent entity designed to examine racial disparities across all systems and specifically work at improving the status and outcomes for the historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous, and tribal populations in Maine. The Permanent Commission advises all three branches of the Maine government.

This bill received much support, and we thank all of you who have advocated for it.

Status: The State and Local Government Committee voted on this bill, but it has not yet been reported out of committee.

GOAL 2: Empower Neighbors to Thrive – Not Just Survive

LD 292“An Act To Increase the Minimum Grant Amount under the Maine State Grant Program” (Introduced by Rep. Teresa 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 if sufficient funds are appropriated for that purpose; and (2) provides ongoing funds of $10 million per year to the program to accomplish this goal.

The passage of this bill is important to Maine people who are the first to go to college in their family, people from low-income families, and people of color. It’s also important for Maine’s higher education and workforce. The grant minimum has not been adjusted since 1992, and if passed, it will boost grants to $2,500 per year for full-time students to keep pace with the rising costs of college.

StatusThe House and Senate adopted LD 292. The bill now goes to the Special Appropriations Table, which is a special process for deferring action on bills affecting appropriations.

GOAL 3: Help Us All Live Longer, Better

LD 8“An Act To Support Collection and Proper Disposal of Unwanted Drugs” (Introduced by Sen. Anne Carney of Cumberland) 

This bill provides for the establishment of drug take-back stewardship programs. It requires certain drug manufacturers, as defined in the bill, to operate a drug take-back stewardship program to collect and dispose of certain drugs.

This bill is important because safe and regular disposal prevents medication misuse and ensures that medications do not end up in the wrong places. Passage of this bill is directly related to Goal 3’s work around substance use disorder, one of the leading causes of death.

StatusThe Senate adopted LD 8. It now awaits consideration by the House.

LD 372“An Act To Provide Maine Children Access to Affordable Health Care” (Introduced by Sen. Anne Carney of Cumberland) 

This bill makes changes to the Cub Care program, nationally known as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which is a program that provides health coverage for children from birth to age 19. Specifically, this bill would increase eligibility and expand coverage.

This bill is important because relevant data¹ shows that in 2018 7.9% of low-income children in Maine and 9.3% of low-income children in Cumberland County were not insured. Access to affordable health care is a critically important strategy for Thrive2027 work and is foundational to all three goals. When Maine children have access to quality, affordable health care, they are better equipped to become healthy and successful adults.

Status: The Health and Human Services Committee has voted on this bill, but it has not yet been reported out of committee.   

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 UWGP, we are closely monitoring these three committees: 

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 advocacy@unitedwaygp.org

¹In 2018 7.9% of low-income children in Maine and 9.3% of low-income children in Cumberland County were not insured. Source: Kids Count Data from SAIPE – Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, U.S. Census data.

To lend your support and help further policies and legislation that will further the goals of Thrive2027, invest in the community through United Way of Greater Portland. 

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