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UWGP Legislative Update, 3/5/2021

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
March 5, 2021

Greetings Community Advocate,

United Way of Greater Portland (UWGP) is pleased to present our March 2021 Legislative Update. This month we not only get to experience the beauty of nature’s transformation from winter to spring, but the 130th Maine State Legislature is also well underway. This is the start of a new two-year state legislative cycle, and we are tracking all introduced bills and their public hearing schedules. With UWGP and Thrive2027 priorities in mind, we will keep you informed about bills that promise to strengthen critical outcomes for our communities.

In this edition, we cover a lot of ground with:

  • The Governor’s Recommended Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023
  • A Federal Update
  • Our Bills to Watch List
  • and Public Hearing Information.

This edition also includes two opportunities to advocate with Phone2Action for the Federal Relief Package and LD2. It is fast and easy to make your voice heard!

If you are not currently subscribed and want to have the Legislative Update delivered to your inbox every other week, please subscribe with the form at the bottom of this page. 

To connect with our Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Ninette Irabaruta, respond to this email or contact advocacy@unitedwaygp.org.

STATE BUDGET

The Governor’s proposed $8.39 billion biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, as well as a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021, was released on January 8.

The Legislature has begun public hearings on the proposed budget. The budget covers education, health and human services, and other core functions of state government. If you wish to make your voice heard, you can see the public hearing schedule at www.mainelegislature.org.

FEDERAL UPDATE

Last month, Thrive2027 leaders submitted a letter to Maine’s Congressional delegation, Senators Collins and King, and Representatives Pingree and Golden, urging them to continue supporting and advocating for a comprehensive federal relief package. The package addresses issues ranging from COVID-19 testing and supplies, to strengthened support for individuals and families, to flexible funding for small businesses, and support for healthcare providers, schools, and local/state governments.

Email Maine’s Members of Congress now to advocate for policies and programs crucial to Maine’s recovery from the pandemic. It takes just 30 seconds through our Phone2Action form! 

MAINE BILLS TO WATCH LIST

UWGP supports public policies that advance Thrive2027, a 10-year initiative to achieve measurable progress in the areas of education, financial stability, and health throughout Cumberland County.

More than 1,600 bills have been introduced and we are reviewing them as they are published. Of the ones for which we currently have text, we have identified several that strengthen critical outcomes for our communities.

IMPACTS GOALS 1, 2, AND 3

LD 2 – “An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process” (Introduced by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland) 

This bill requires, if requested by any legislative committee, the commissioner of a department or director of an agency to provide to that legislative committee data, analysis, and other information necessary to prepare a racial impact statement, which is an assessment of the potential impact that legislation could have on historically disadvantaged racial populations. 

LD 2 represents a small but powerful step forward in accelerating our state’s response to racial equity. By reviewing the potential impact of legislation on historically disadvantaged racial populations, we can better ensure public policies create a more equitable and resilient community for everyone.  

Status: The bill was voted on by the Committee, resulting in a Divided Report.

 Email your state representatives now to advocate for LD2 and ensuring state policies benefit all Mainers. It takes just 30 seconds through our Phone2Action form!

GOAL 1: Give Kids a Strong Start

LD 138 – “An Act To Increase Student Reading Proficiency” (Introduced by Rep. Michael Brennan of Portland) 

This bill aims to improve reading proficiency for Maine students and provides additional context on the equity implications of reading proficiency. 

This bill is important because it would be the first step towards establishing a baseline for student reading proficiency in public schools across Maine, helping ensure all students can read proficiently by the end of elementary school. This is the time in a child’s life in which they transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

Without a strong foundation in reading, children are left behind at the beginning of their education and are 4 times more likely not to graduate from high school than children who read at grade level at the end of 3rd grade.

Status: The bill was voted on by the Committee, resulting in a Divided Report.

GOAL 2: Empower Neighbors to Thrive – Not Just Survive

Look forward to Goal 2 bills to watch in the future editions of the Legislative Update.

GOAL 3: Help Us All Live Longer, Better

LD 372 – “An Act To Provide Maine Children Access to Affordable Health Care” (Introduced by Sen. Anne Carney of Cumberland) 

This bill makes changes to the Cub Care program, nationally known as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which is a program that provides health coverage for children from birth to age 19. Specifically, this bill would increase eligibility and expand coverage. 

This bill is important because relevant data¹ shows that in 2018 7.9% of low-income children in Maine and 9.3% of low-income children in Cumberland County were not insured. Access to affordable health care is a critically important strategy for Thrive2027 work and is foundational to all three goals.  When Maine children have access to quality, affordable health care, they can become healthy and successful adults. 

Status: The Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing and is still considering the bill. It has not been voted on yet. 
 

LD 8 – “An Act To Support Collection and Proper Disposal of Unwanted Drugs” (Introduced by Sen. Anne Carney of Cumberland) 

This bill provides for the establishment of drug take-back stewardship programs. It requires certain drug manufacturers, as defined in the bill, to operate a drug take-back stewardship program to collect and dispose of certain drugs.  

This bill is important because safe and regular disposal prevents medication misuse and ensures that medications do not end up in the wrong places. Passage of this bill is directly related to Goal 3’s work around substance use disorder, one of the leading causes of death.  

Status: The bill was voted out of committee on a divided vote. 
 

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 UWGP, we are closely monitoring these three committees: 

  1. Education and Cultural Affairs Committee   
  1. Health and Human Services Committee 
  1. 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@unitedwaygp.org.

 

 


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.