231 Front Street, Lahaina, HI 96761 info@mynonprofit.com 808.123.4567

UWGP Legislative Update, 6/18/2021

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
June 18, 2021

Greetings Community Advocate,

United Way of Greater Portland (UWGP) is pleased to present the June 18 edition of our Legislative Update. 

This edition is timed with the end of the legislative session, as we round out a historic and robust season, seeing hundreds of bills considered by the House and Senate.

This week’s edition includes:

  • State Update
  • LD 8 Becomes Law
  • 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.

STATE UPDATE

The First Special Session of the 130th Legislature ended yesterday. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee is expected to work next week on reviewing the supplemental budget, which amends the biennial budget passed in March, and present it to the Legislature. The AFA will spend time reviewing the Governor’s proposal that outlines how to invest $1.3 billion in federal American Recovery Plan funding funding that Maine is receiving. They will also review a number of bills sent their way for consideration.

ONE OF OUR PRIORITY BILLS BECOMES LAW

The Governor signed LD 8 into law, a bill that requires certain drug manufacturers to operate a drug take-back stewardship program to collect and dispose certain drugs. This is important because safe and regular disposal prevents medication misuse and ensures that medications do not end up in the wrong places. Thank you for any advocacy you may have done!

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.

With UWGP and Thrive2027 priorities in mind, advocacy team members and volunteers tracked and identified introduced bills that promise to strengthen critical outcomes for our communities.

IMPACTS GOALS 1 AND 2 

LD 1652 – “An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce” (Introduced by Speaker Fecteau of Biddeford)

This bill requires the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Education, and the Commissioner of Labor jointly to develop and implement an early childhood educators workforce support program to recruit and retain early childhood educators working with children up to 5 years of age. Components of the program include:     

  1. Career and technical education   
  2. Comprehensive scholarships  
  3. Apprenticeships 
  4. Salary supplements  
  5. Articulation agreements 
  6. Support for immigrants and those new to the workforce 
  7. Requirement of a biennial report to be made by the Commissioners to the Legislature 

The passage of LD 1652 is important because it will offer a needed boost to our state’s early childhood educators’ workforce at multiple levels, establish a strong network of early educators, and encourage others to get into the field who may have previously encountered barriers such as salary, technical training, or access to credentials.

Status: This bill has been carried over to the next Legislative Session.

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 Rep. 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 the historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous, and tribal populations in Maine. The Permanent Commission advises all three branches of the Maine government. 

Passage of LD 1034 would help ensure racial equity is prioritized across policies and programs in our state.

Status: The House and Senate Adopted LD 1034. The bill now goes to the Special Appropriations Table, which is a special process for deferring action on bills affecting appropriations. 

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: (1) amends the Maine State Grant Program to make the minimum grant amount under the program, which is administered by FAME (Finance Authority of Maine), not be less than $2,500 if sufficient funds are appropriated for that purpose; and (2) provides ongoing funds of $10 million per year to the program to accomplish this goal.

The passage of this bill is important to Maine people who are the first to go to college in their family, people from low-income families, and people of color. It’s 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 to keep pace with the rising costs of college. 

Status: The House and Senate have adopted LD 292. The bill now goes to the Special Appropriations Table.

LD 1651 – “An Act To Support Working Families through Outreach and Education about Tax Credits for Persons of Low Income” (Introduced by Senator Vitelli of Sagadahoc)

This bill strengthens the work of CA$H (Creating Assets Savings and Hope) Maine, a free service that helps eligible individuals and families to obtain the tax credits they deserve, get connected to community resources that assist them with building or maintaining financial stability, and return much needed dollars to our community. 

Last year alone, CA$H Maine helped over 4,700 households save over $775,000 in return preparation fees and helped connect over 2,500 people to much-needed community resources such as matched savings accounts and food pantries. In Greater Portland, CA$H served 671 tax filers, returning over $1 million to the community, and saving clients more than $100,000 in tax filing fees. 

This bill is important because it will give CA$H Coalitions across the state the much-needed resources to support free tax preparation services.

Status: The House and Senate have adopted LD 1651. The bill now goes to the Special Appropriations Table.

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 are better equipped to become healthy and successful adults. 

Status: LD 372 was adopted by the Senate. It awaits consideration from the House. If it passes the House, it will be sent to the Special Appropriations Table.

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   
  2. Health and Human Services Committee 
  3. 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

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.