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UWGP Legislative Update, 4/8/2021

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
April 8, 2021

Greetings Community Advocate,

United Way of Greater Portland (UWGP) is pleased to present the April 8 edition of our bi-weekly Legislative Update.

With a seasonal shift upon us, it’s a nice time to pause and take note of the natural transformation around us. To that end, our Maine Legislators have adjourned, until April 28th, but the work of various committees is ongoing. Once the full Legislature reconvenes, they will be busy working on the many remaining bills introduced during this session of the 130th Maine State Legislature. We will continue to track all introduced bills and 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. 

This week’s edition includes: 

  • State Budget Update  
  • Bill Watch List 
  • How to Advocate 

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, or contact advocacy@unitedwaygp.org.

UPDATE ON THE STATE BUDGET

Governor Mills has signed the new two-year, $8.3 billion state budget into law. The budget will take effect in 90 days, just in time for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st.

The State Legislature is expected to reconvene for a special session on April 28 to work on the supplemental spending plan and unfinished legislation. All committee work is ongoing during this time.

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 1034“An Act To Provide Funding To Support the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations” (Introduced by Mike Sylvester of Portland)

This bill provides funding to hire permanent staff to support the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.  

The Permanent Commission is an independent entity designed to examine racial disparities across all systems and specifically work at improving the status and outcomes for historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous, and tribal populations in Maine. The Permanent Commission advises all three branches of Maine government. 

Status: A public hearing is scheduled for April 14 at 10:00 am.

Click here to express your support for LD 1034, and email your state legislators in a few easy clicks. 

GOAL 2: Empower Neighbors to Thrive – Not Just Survive

LD 292“An Act To Increase the Minimum Grant Amount under the Maine State Grant Program” (Introduced by Rep. Teresa Pierce of Falmouth)

This bill amends the law to specify that the minimum grant amount under the Maine State Grant Program within the Finance Authority of Maine may not be less than $2,500 if sufficient funds are appropriate for that purpose.  

The passage of this bill is important to Mainers who are first to go to college in their family, people from low-income families, and people of color. It is also important for Maine’s higher education and workforce. The grant minimum has not been adjusted since 1992, and if passed, it will boost grants to $2,500 per year for full-time students in order to keep pace with the rising costs of college. 

Status: The Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee has voted, but it has not yet been reported out of committee.

GOAL 3: Help Us All Live Longer, Better

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.   

LD 8 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 Thrive2027 Goal 3 related to substance use disorder, one of the leading causes of death.   

Status: The Environment and Natural Resources Committee has voted, but it has not yet been reported out of committee.  

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), a program that provides health coverage for children from birth to age 19. Specifically, this bill would increase eligibility and expand coverage.  

LD 372 is important because relevant data¹ shows that a significant percent of low-income children in Maine and Cumberland County are not insured. Access to affordable health care is a critically important strategy for Thrive2027 and is foundational to all three goals. When Maine children have access to quality, affordable health care, they are better equipped to become healthy and successful adults.  

Status: The Health and Human Services Committee has voted, but it has not yet been reported out of committee.   

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: 

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

¹In 2018 7.9% of low-income children in Maine and 9.3% of low-income children in Cumberland County were not insured. Source: Kids Count Data from SAIPE – Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, U.S. Census data.

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.