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UWGP Legislative Update, 5/31/19

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
May 31, 2019

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Universal Pre-K Becoming a Reality – LD 1043

On May 6, the Maine Legislature’s Education Committee unanimously approved LD 1043. This bill will set Maine on a course to expand pre-kindergarten programs into every school district in the state. Legislators are additionally extending the proposed bill deadline from 2020-2021 to the 2023-2024 school year to allow school districts time to develop their programs.

While the bill itself wouldn’t provide funding for the programs, policymakers assume that funding for pre-K will be part of education funding within the two-year state budget proposed by the governor. The governor’s proposed budget includes $40 million to help support the expansion of pre-K into all school districts.

United Way of Greater Portland’s testimony stated,

“increasing the number of seats available through additional funding will allow more 3 and 4 year-olds, and particularly those from low-income families, to attend preschool and have a more equitable start to their school career. Opening more preschool seats allows parents to return to the workforce and help the economy of the community. Allowing more children into public preschool programs—especially those from low-income families—will increase their chances of living healthier and longer lives.” – United Way of Greater Portland’s testimony on LD 1043

LD 1043 passed the House and Senate, and on May 28, the Senate placed the bill on the Special Appropriations Table. We will provide more updates as they become available.

 

Update: Advocating For Maine Farmers & Babies
Your Voice Is Still Needed! – LD 982

Over the last two weeks, advocates like you have continued to advocate for LD 982—which expands access to Farmers’ Markets for WIC recipients—and the number of emails sent to state legislators has doubled (128 emails to 51 different legislators)!

Due to these efforts, many of you have forwarded us responses from legislators supportive of LD 982. This emphasizes the importance of our collective voices to advocate within our individual districts. Have you heard from your state legislator on this issue? Consider sharing that interaction with us by forwarding the message at advocacy@unitedwaygp.org.

THERE’S STILL TIME TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR

If you haven’t filled out our sixty second form to encourage your legislators to support this important bill, there is still time. Simply text UWGP to 52886 and follow the link. In a few clicks, you can send a personalized e-mail to your legislator inviting them to support Maine’s farmers and babies. 

ACTION ALERT

Thank Governor Mills For Ensuring Maine Kids Are Healthy & Safe

In our last update, we asked you to contact Governor Mills and encourage her to sign LD 798, which removes religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccinations. Thank you all for taking quick action on this important bill. We’re happy to share that Governor Mills signed the bill into law last Friday.

Please take a moment to send the Governor a thank you message and let her know you support this bill and her signature!

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. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass on May 6, due to the committee’s decision that LD 1043 would 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. On May 28, the Senate placed the bills on the SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS TABLE* pending PASSAGE TO BE ENACTED, in concurrence .
    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 May 13.

 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).
    On May 22, the bill was voted out via Divided Report. On May 29 the Legislature’s Taxation Committee gave near unanimous approval with modernization provisions proposed by Representative Terry.
    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).
    It passed the House and Senate on May 28 and 29, respectively.
  • 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. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass due to the committee’s decision that LD 982 would be the vehicle for advancing food security
  • 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. 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).
    On May 22, the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business Committee voted it out via Divided Report.
  • LD 1645 “An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing” (Introduced by Representative Fecteau).
    There was a second work session held on May 16. The bill was Voted Ought to Pass as Amended.

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. It was TABLED. On May 23, a “Carry Over” was approved. 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. The Committee voted Ought Not To Pass on April 2.
  • LD 392 “An Act To Fund Maine’s School-based Health Centers” (Introduced by Representative Handy).
    This bill passed the House May 7. The Senate has placed the bill 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 on April 25.
  • 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).
    See Action Alert above. 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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