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UWSM Legislative Update, 3/23/2022

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
March 23, 2022

Greetings Community Advocates,

This week is expected to see a lot of activity around the supplemental budget. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is busy holding work sessions to discuss and vote on selected initiatives of the budget. This is an important time for advocacy and mobilizing support for legislation that makes an impact on areas of education, financial stability, and health. Please join us to make your voice and advocacy heard.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HILL:

As we shared in our last communication, this is the time of year when Congressional Directed Spending (CDS) application opportunities are presented. We heard from the offices of Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUSTA:

Last month, Governor Mills introduced the supplemental budget, and last Friday, she proposed a change package. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has been busy this week working to discuss and vote on selected initiatives of LD 1995. UWSM continues supporting four proposed investments included in the supplemental budget bill. A link to the full budget can be found here.

  1. A proposed $12 million investment in ongoing funding to increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educators to strengthen our child care system across Maine.
  2. A proposed $8 million investment to improve the state’s Child Welfare System.
  3. A proposed $20 million investment to provide two years of free community college.
  4. A proposed $42.1 million investment in ongoing funding to strengthen the educational opportunity tax credit.
Take Action: Help advocate for an investment in Maine’s Community College system and the Educational Opportunity Tax CreditClick here to send a personalized email to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in less than a minute.

PRIORITY BILLS TO FOLLOW:

UWSM advocates for bills supporting the annual public policy agenda approved by the Board of Directors connected to Thrive2027. Read UWSM’s Policy and Advocacy Priorities for 2022.

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.
Status: This bill was carried over from last year. No current work sessions have been scheduled.

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 two years, from October 2022 to September 2024.
Status: This bill was carried over from last year. No current work sessions have been scheduled.

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 (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and 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 people19 and 20 years of age.
Status: The Committee on Health and Human Services voted to pass LD 372 with a divided report.

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

This bill seeks $2.5 million for the Maine Community College System to expand its Nursing Education Programs. LD 1807 supports the hiring of 30 trained nurses as nurse educators, which will help maintain a meaningful student-faculty ratio. The funds will also pay for the classroom supplies needed for the nursing programs across all community colleges in the state.
Status: The Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs voted LD 1807 Ought-To-Pass as Amended. The bill has not yet been reported out of committee.

Thank you for your advocacy! Legislative Update readers like you sent 145 emails in support of LD 1807.

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 or bad current connectivity. The funds provided by this bond are estimated to reach 98% of homes and businesses in the state within 5 years.
Status: A hearing on this bill has yet to be scheduled.

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.
Status: The Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee has voted ought to pass, 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 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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