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UWGP Legislative Update, 5/17/19

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
May 17, 2019

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Destigmatizing Mental Health in our Schools – LD 1024

Concerns about youth mental health have been heightened in the last 10 years due to the rising number of Maine youth who report signs of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Recently, the Maine Children’s Alliance released the 2019 Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book, which shows several concerning statistics: 1) Maine has the highest rate in the U.S. of children diagnosed with anxiety; 2) it has the third highest rate of children diagnosed with depression; and 3) it has a teen suicide rate that is already higher than the national average and continues to increase.

LD 1024 was proposed to ensure youth receive mental health support by destigmatizing mental health in the school environment and providing the tools for peers to support each other. This is crucial for lowering the instances of our children suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

“We hope that someday mental illness will be as normal to talk about as any physical illness and hope that passing this bill will make this goal a reality.” – Suzanne Fox, Founder of the Yellow Tulip Project

At the Public Hearing held April 1, 2019 nearly a dozen pieces of testimony were submitted from community advocates and legislative representatives supporting the expansion of mental health services, and LD 1024. This included testimony from Suzanne Fox, founder of the Yellow Tulip Project and winner of the 2019 United We Thrive Change Maker Award Winner, stated, “We hope that someday mental illness will be as normal to talk about as any physical illness and hope that passing this bill will make this goal a reality.” In her testimony, Rebecca Boulos, Executive Director of the Maine Public Health Association stated that, “…an increased focus on mental health education in schools, combined with existing community initiatives and support, and access to treatment, will reduce the stigma of mental illness, give youth tools to recognize mental health concerns in their peers, seek assistance when they need it, and promote public health….” This bill requires health education instruction in elementary, middle, junior high and high school to include instruction in mental health and the relationship between physical and mental health. “Teaching our kids how to talk about mental health…and that it’s OK to talk about mental health…will help them be more mindful and proactive about their own overall well-being,” said Sen. Carson in a press release.

LD 1024 was signed into law Tuesday, May 14. Let Governor Mills hear from you about how this bill is a great start in helping our children and communities thrive. Send her a thank you email now by texting UWGP HEALTH to 52886 or visiting https://p2a.co/25OoaEi.

Advocates Supporting Maine Farmers and Babies – You Can, Too! – LD 982

 

We are excited to announce that 48 Advocates across Greater Portland sent 64 personalized e-mail messages to their state legislators encouraging them to expand access to Farmers’ Markets for WIC recipients. More than half of those 64 messages were personalized sent to 33 legislators.

Due to individual advocacy efforts, our advocates have heard from numerous legislators that they are supportive of this bill. This further emphasizes the importance of our collective voices to advocate within our individual districts. 

You Can Be an Advocate, Too!

There is still time to encourage your legislators to support this very important bill. Simply text UWGP to 52886 and follow the link. In less than 60 seconds, you can send a personalized e-mail to your legislator inviting them to support Maine’s farmers and babies. 

ACTION ALERT

Help Protect Maine Children and Students From Preventable Diseases

LD 798 removes Religious and Philosophical exemptions for vaccinations. The bill passed the House and Senate with no amendments or loopholes. This is an incredibly important advancement in public health and making our schools and communities safer and healthier. Now it is up to the Governor to sign this bill into law. Please send her a message letting her know you support this bill and you hope she does too.

UWGP Legislative Watch List

United Way of Greater Portland has embraced Thrive2027, our community’s 10-year effort to achieve measurable progress in the areas of education, financial stability, and health. UWGP is playing its part to ensure the success of Thrive2027 by supporting public policies like those included in the following Legislative Watch List: 

 Goal 1: Give Kids a Strong Start  

  • LD 468 “An Act To Require That the State Fund on an Ongoing Basis a Minimum of 50 Percent of the Costs Associated with Public Preschool Programs” (Introduced by Representative Farnsworth).
    There was a public hearing on May 1, 2019. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass May 6, 2019 due to the committee’s decision that LD 1043 will be the vehicle for advancing Pre-K issues. Read United Way of Greater Portland’s Testimony on LD 468 and LD1043.
  • LD 1043 “An Act To Establish Universal Public Preschool Programs” (Introduced by Representative Kornfield).
    There was a public hearing on May 1, 2019. 
    Read United Way of Greater Portland’s Testimony on LD 468 and LD1043.
  • LD 997 “An Act To Promote Social and Emotional Learning and Development for Young Children” (Introduced by Senator Breen).
    The Committee voted this bill out via divided report on April 8, 2019.

 Goal 2: Empower Neighbors to Thrive – Not Just Survive

  • LD 104 “An Act To Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit in Maine” (Introduced by Senator Vitelli).
    There was a public hearing on May 2, 2019. TABLED.  
    Read United Way of Greater Portland’s Testimony on LD 104.
  • LD 214 “An Act To Increase Funding for Civil Legal Services” (Introduced by Representative Cardone).
    The Committee voted this bill out via divided report on April 18, 2019.
  • LD 421 “Resolve, To Amend the State Plan Regarding the Processing of Vouchers under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children by Farmers’ Markets” (Introduced by Representative Terry).
    There was a work session on April 30, 2019. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass.
  • LD 982 “Resolve, To Expand the Use of the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Food Program at Farmers’ Markets” (Introduced by Representative Daughtry).
    There was a work session on April 30, 2019. The Committee voted Ought To Pass as Amended.
  • LD 647 “An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New State Residents To Strengthen the Workforce” (Introduced by Representative Cloutier). There was a public hearing held May 15, 2019 in the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business Committee.
  • LD 1645 “An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing” (Introduced by Representative Fecteau).
    There was a work session held on May 14, 2019. The bill was TABLED.

Goal 3:  Help Us All Live Longer, Better

  • LD 227 “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Public Health Infrastructure” (Introduced by Representative Perry).
    There was a work session on April 10, 2019. It was TABLED. On May 10, a “Carry Over” was requested. This could push the bill to next session or a special session if called.
  • LD 266 “An Act To Eliminate the 2-year Limit on MaineCare Coverage for Approved Drugs for Opioid Use Disorder” (Introduced by Senator Sanborn).
    The Governor also proposed language to remove the two-year limit. This language went into effect in March.
  • LD 447 “An Act Regarding the Substance Use Disorder Continuum of Care” (Introduced by Senator Gratwick).
    There was a public hearing on April 1, 2019. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass April 2, 2019.
  • LD 392 “An Act To Fund Maine’s School-based Health Centers” (Introduced by Representative Handy).
    This bill passed the House May 7th. The Senate has placed the bills on the SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS TABLE* pending PASSAGE TO BE ENACTED, in concurrence.
  • LD 836 “An Act To Expand Maine’s School-based Health Centers” (Introduced by Representative Handy).
    This bill passed the House May 7th. The Senate has placed the bills on the SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS TABLE* pending PASSAGE TO BE ENACTED, in concurrence..
  • LD 1337 “An Act To Save Lives by Establishing a Homeless Opioid Users Service Engagement Program within the Department of Health and Human Services” (Introduced by Representative Gattine).
    The committee voted this bill out via divided report April 25, 2019.
  • LD 798 “An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements” (Introduced by Representative Tipping).
    The bill passed the House on April 25, 2019. An amended bill passed the Senate May 2, 2019. The amendment retains the religious exemption. On May 14, 2019, the Maine Senate voted 18-17 to follow the Maine House vote to support LD 798. The bill ends both philosophical and religious exemptions. It is on its way to the Governor for signature.
    Click here to ask Governor Mills to sign LD798 into law.

What is a Divided Report? :If committee members disagree about a bill, they may issue a divided report, which usually includes majority and minority reports on the bill. Example: a majority ‘ought not to pass’ report and a minority ‘ought to pass as amended’ report. A less frequent situation occurs when there are more than 2 reports. Example: 6 members vote for ‘Report A,’ ‘ought to pass,’ 5 members vote for ‘Report B,’ ‘ought not to pass,’ and 2 members vote for ‘Report C,’ ‘ought to pass as amended.’ http://legislature.maine.gov/general/path-of-legislation-in-maine-detailed/9285

What is a Special Appropriations Table?:
After the budget bills have been enacted or are pending enactment and the amount of funding still available for the table is known, the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs reviews all bills placed on the table throughout the session and makes its decision on each. These decisions are made with a significant amount of input from other sources. Other committees are required, within 5 working days after reporting out all of their bills, to notify the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs of their priorities of bills that are on the Special Appropriations Table. Leadership, sponsors and other interested parties are often involved in working out compromises or agreements for final disposition of bills on the table. Bills are passed as is, amended to change the cost or killed outright. There are no voting requirements specified in the joint order that created the table. By tradition, decisions are made by majority vote.
https://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/other_publications/fiscalnote_process/appendix_a.pdf

If you would like to know how you can be an Advocate for these important policies, feel free to contact advocacy@unitedwaygp.org.

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