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UWSM Legislative Update, 2/16/2022

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
February 16, 2022

Greetings Community Advocates,

Thank you for taking action and using your voice to make real change in our community and across the state.

Welcome to our regular Legislative Update for the Second Legislative Session of the 130th Legislature now underway.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUSTA:

The Governor presented the annual State of the State, in the House Chamber, on February 10. Governor Mills addressed several issues ranging from early childhood education to healthcare, housing, and substance use disorders. You can read more about her State of the State speech here.

Both the Senate and the House gathered for business on February 10; they are in session again today, February 16, and on February 23, starting at 10 a.m. You can follow House proceedings here and Senate proceedings here.

All committees continue to conduct business online, and more public hearings and work sessions are scheduled every week. Yesterday, Governor Mills unveiled her supplemental budget for a projected $822 million surplus. The Legislature is set to begin public hearings on it.

UWSM supports bills in support of the annual public policy agenda approved by the Board of Directors that are connected to Thrive2027. Read UWSM’s Policy and Advocacy Priorities for 2022.

Nursing Shortage:

LD 1807“An Act To Expand Nursing Education Programs” (Sponsored by Senator Matthea Daughtry of Cumberland)

LD 1807 seeks $2.5 million for the Maine Community College System to expand its Nursing Education Programs. These funds will support the hiring of thirty trained nurses.

Maine needs about 1,150 new nurses per year to account for retirement, career switches, and the increase in healthcare system use. All Maine colleges, both public and private, currently graduate only about 750 nurses per year.

This bill would help Maine’s community colleges almost double the number of nurses they graduate each year.

Status: A public hearing or work session has not been scheduled.

FIVE PRIORITY BILLS TO WATCH FOR 2022:

We continue 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 Teresa S. Pierce of Falmouth)

This bill: (1) amends the Maine State Grant Program, administered by FAME (Finance Authority of Maine), to make the minimum grant amount $2,500; and (2) provides ongoing funds of $10 million per year to the program to accomplish this goal.

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 for the purpose of providing short-term respite care. The pilot program provides 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 federal CHIP and/or 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 Richard 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 ongoing General Fund appropriations in the amount of $4.5 million 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: 

  1. Education and Cultural Affairs Committee   
  2. Health and Human Services Committee 
  3. 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 advocacy@uwsme.org

To get the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, sign up at https://p2a.co/tjKEBsH or email 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.

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