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UWGP Legislative Update, 6/28/19

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
June 28, 2019

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Thank You for Making This Session a Success

The state legislative session ended Thursday, June 20 at 6:45am. There was more than $800 million in bills left on the Special Appropriations Table with only $6 million available. When bills move to the Special Appropriations Table, it is widely regarded as “the end of the road” for those pieces of legislation. However, due to the energy and outpouring of support from advocates like you, 3 of the 5 bills UWGP had “on the Table,” were funded and enacted. Thank you for being a hand raiser and using your voice to advocate for the education, financial stability, and health of our community.

Those bills funded and enacted are:

LD 982, “Resolve, To Expand the Use of the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Food Program at Farmers’ Markets”
This bill provides funding for the Farmers Market Voucher Program that will draw down federal dollars in an 8:1 match. Therefore, more families will be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets. Thanks to the help of 68 Advocates e-mailing 54 legislators across the state, this bill became law, with the Governor signing the bill into law on June 20, 2019.

LD 997, “An Act To Promote Social and Emotional Learning and Development for Young Children” 
Beginning September 1, 2020, this bill requires the Commissioner of Education to implement a statewide voluntary early childhood consultation program to provide support, guidance, and training to families, early care and education teachers, and providers working in various early learning settings serving infants and young children who are experiencing challenging behaviors that put them at risk of learning difficulties and removal. The bill requires the Department of Education to design and implement the program and to report to the joint standing Committee of the Legislature with jurisdiction over education matters on the program’s implementation. An amendment was adopted that would ensure parents had access to the child’s reports and files. Also, TANF funds will be used to cover 50% of the costs of the program. The bill was passed to be enacted on June 20, 2019 and was signed by the Governor yesterday (6/27).

LD 392, “An Act To Fund Maine’s School-based Health Centers”
This bill provides resources that aid in the prevention of and response to Adverse Childhood Experiences and ensure youth receive mental health services. An amendment changes the funding source for school-based health centers from the Fund for a Healthy Maine to the General Fund. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 20, 2019.

United Way of Greater Portland successfully supported other bills, including:

LD 214, “An Act To Increase Funding for Civil Legal Services”
This bill ensures that legal aid providers can take on at least 9,500 more cases per year and assist tens of thousands of low-income Mainers through systemic advocacy, outreach, and education. The bill was passed to be enacted June 20, 2019. LD 214 is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

LD 266, “An Act To Eliminate the 2-year Limit on MaineCare Coverage for Approved Drugs for Opioid Use Disorder” 
This bill repeals the 24-month limit on MaineCare coverage or reimbursement for buprenorphine and naloxone combination drugs, also known as Suboxone, for the treatment of addiction to opioids. Although the sponsor of the bill ultimately withdrew it, similar provisions were included in the biennial budget.

LD 798, “An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements” 
This bill removes Philosophical and Religious exemptions. The Governor signed the bill into law on May 24, 2019.

LD 1024, “An Act to Destigmatize Mental Illness through Health Instruction That Emphasizes the Relationship between Physical and Mental Health in Schools”
The bill clarifies that health education must include instruction that addresses the relationship between physical and mental health in order to enhance student understanding of attitudes toward and behavior relating to mental illness and to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. The Governor signed the bill into law on May 14, 2019.

LD 1337, “An Act To Save Lives by Establishing a Homeless Opioid Users Service Engagement Program within the Department of Health and Human Services” 
Evidence-based, peer-reviewed research shows that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and stable housing are integral and critical components of addiction recovery. LD 1337 provides low-barrier treatment and stable housing to support recovery and create stability for 50 people struggling with opiate use disorder. This program will provide MAT, intensive case management, and flexible housing assistance for the most vulnerable Mainers who are experiencing chronic homelessness and are often incarcerated or require frequent hospital care. This bill passed the House and Senate on June 20, 2019. LD 1337 is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

ACTION ALERT

Send a Thank You to Your Representatives

The eight bills listed above are an important step in ensuring that Cumberland County residents live in a thriving community. We need to encourage our legislators to support solutions like these moving forward. Please take a minute to thank your Legislator and the Governor for the role they played in making these policy solutions possible. Click here or text UWGP THANK to 52886 to thank your representatives now.

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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