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UWGP Legislative Update, 2/14/2020

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
February 14, 2020

Greetings Community Advocate,

Thank you for using your voice to act; making real and tangible change in our community and state. That’s what we call spreading the love!

This week’s update includes a link to United Way of Greater Portland’s Legislative Rewind featuring Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Ronald Jarrett, recapping our list of bills to watch and a deep dive conversation with Representative Maureen Terry and Maine resident, Amy Larkin, as we discuss tax benefits like the expanded State Earned Income tax Credit (EITC) and the Caregiver Credit.

Click here to listen to the Legislative Rewind Podcast.

If you are not currently subscribed and want to receive the bi-weekly Legislative Update delivered to your inbox, please subscribe below.  To connect directly with our Director of Public Policy and Advocacy now, please contact advocacy@unitedwaygp.org. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUSTA

MARCH 3RD PRIMARY + PUBLIC LAW 154

On March 3rd, Maine will have its first Presidential Primary, one of fourteen states doing the same that day. Aside from the Presidential nominee, Maine voters will have an opportunity to vote on a Citizens Veto that aims to repeal Public Law 154 (LD 798). If successful, this Citizens Veto would reinstate the religious and philosophical exemptions for school vaccinations. This would put many children, some of whom with valid medical exemptions, at risk of being infected by preventable diseases. We encourage everyone to Vote No on Question 1.

In a March 2019 Legislative Update, we discussed our support for Public Law 154 (LD 798) and the importance of maintaining community immunity. Click here to read that analysis. As a result of that advocacy, supporters like you sent nearly 900 emails last year to state legislators in support of vaccinations.

 

LD 1760

An Act To Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness

LD 1760 proposes to launch up to 10 First 4 ME pilot sites under Maine DHHS that would serve at-risk children under 6 years of age who have not entered kindergarten and their parents. The bill funds projects that integrate comprehensive resources and services with traditional center-based and family childcare settings. The resources can include family support, such as home visiting services. This bill also provides for increasing childcare providers’ knowledge, parent engagement and communication, and wrap-around supports such as nutrition, mental health services, and connections to other community services as the participating family needs.

Photo: Thrive2027 Council Member, Mike Tarpinian, testifies in support of LD 1760

This bill speaks directly to mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by taking a comprehensive approach to supporting families with young children based on a model that is proven to work. There was a hearing Thursday, February 13, 2020. There is still time to encourage your State legislator to support this important bill, click here to advocate now.

United Way of Greater Portland is hosting a series of Thrive2027 Community Events as a follow up to the 90+ community conversations that helped establish the three Thrive2027 goals. The first event in January featured a discussion with Senator Rebecca Millett on ACEs and LD 1760. If you are interested in attending an upcoming event in Freeport, Bridgton, or Gorham, click here to learn more and RSVP.

 

LD 1919

An Act To Provide Compensation to Family Caregivers

LD 1919, a bipartisan bill, would create a new Caregiver Credit, which would put cash in the pockets of unpaid caregivers, compensating those with low- to moderate income for their hard work and the important role they play in meeting the State’s unmet need for care. The Caregiver Credit established in LD 1919 would provide a refundable Maine income tax credit of up to $2,000 for low- to moderate-income households that provide at least 150 hours of unpaid care to eligible family members annually. The credit would be available to single filers with annual incomes up to $75,000 and married households with annual incomes up to $150,000. Because the credit would be refundable, most eligible families with low incomes would receive a cash refund when they file their state income taxes.

Much like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Caregiver Credit seeks to put more cash in the hands of struggling families. The public hearing was Thursday, February 6, 2020, but there is still time to encourage your State legislator to support this important bill, click here.

HEAR MORE ABOUT LD 1919 IN OUR LEGISLATIVE REWIND

 

LD 1645

An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing

This bill, which was endorsed by the Thrive2027 Council, will expand access to affordable housing in Maine, ensuring more of our neighbors can thrive–not just survive. This session, LD 1645 gained unanimous approval from both the Taxation and Appropriations Committees. Just last week, LD 1645 was enacted without a single objection by both the full House and the full Senate. After announcing her support during the State of the State address, Governor Mills signed the bill on February 12, 2020.

Thank you to United Way advocates who helped LD 1645 pass by sending a total of 816 emails of support, to their legislators, within the last two weeks.

 

Maine Bills to Watch

UWGP 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 policy like those included in the following Legislative Watch List:

L.D. 1096: “An Act To Require That Comprehensive Substance Use Disorder Treatment Be Made Available to Maine’s Incarcerated Population”
This bill requires the Commissioner of Corrections to establish and maintain a substance use disorder treatment program in the correctional facilities, which must provide for an assessment on intake, provide a variety of behavioral and medication-assisted treatment options, and offer peer support and comprehensive treatment options after release. This bill is still on the Appropriations Table.

L.D. 1466: “An Act To Allow Community-based Organizations To Participate in Diversion Projects for Persons with Substance Use Disorder”
This bill amends the Substance Use Disorder Assistance Program, which is a program that provides grants to municipalities, counties and regional jails to carry out projects designed to reduce substance use, substance use-related crimes, and recidivism, to include community-based organizations as entities eligible for grants under the program. A work session was held on January 27th.

L.D. 1572: “An Act To Enact the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act”
This bill establishes the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act, the purpose of which is to ensure that a person is not denied housing based solely on the existence of a history of criminal convictions. There was a work session on February 12th.

L.D. 1607: “An Act To Create the Department of Early Care and Learning”
This concept bill proposes to create the Department of Early Care and Learning as a cabinet-level state agency within the executive branch of State Government. It was voted Ought Not To Pass on February 6th.

L.D. 1645: “An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing”
This bill seeks to expand affordable housing for Seniors and rural communities. The Governor signed this into law on February 12th.

L.D. 1760: “An Act To Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness”
This bill would help mitigate ACEs by increasing access to high-quality childcare for at-risk children under 6 years old and provide other wrap around supports the family. There was a packed house at the hearing on February 13th, but there is still time to encourage your state legislator to support it. Text “ME Child” to 52886 and follow the link when prompted. It takes less than a minute.

L.D. 1919: “An Act To Provide a Tax Credit for Family Caregivers
This bill creates a refundable credit for those taxpayers caring for an elderly and/or disabled family member. There was a public hearing on February 6th.

L.D. 1935: “An Act To Address the Needs of Pregnant Women Affected by Opioid Use Disorder”
This bill will increase and fund treatment options specifically for pregnant people who use opioids and wish to seek treatment. There was a work session on February 12th.

L.D. 1974: “An Act To Promote Telehealth”
This bill provides for reimbursement of case management services delivered through telehealth to targeted populations. A public hearing was held on January 22nd.

L.D. 2056: “Resolve, To Create the Frequent Users System Engagement Collaborative”
This bill is designed to pull all our expensive emergency systems together to house people experiencing chronic and long-term homelessness, one at a time. Once people are housed, they stop ricocheting through our most expensive systems. This eventually changes the way we help people who are ill and have no place to live while realizing considerable savings of public funds. There was a hearing on February 13th, and it’s expected that a work session will be scheduled soon.

Looking for a little more analysis on these bills? Click here to stream our Legislative Rewind podcast.

 

Thank you for all you do to build a stronger community. 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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To lend your support and help further policies and legislation that will further the goals of Thrive2027, invest in the community through United Way of Greater Portland.