Maine Legislature Roundup

Suit Up Maine collaborates with other grassroots groups, legislators, and statewide advocacy organizations to identify and track bills on a range of progressive issues each year. The 130th Legislature began in December and will likely run through June, with much of the work done remotely due to COVID-19. Many of the more than 1,600 bills are still being printed, so the list of bills below that we’re tracking will grow in the coming weeks. 

What's new in 2021?

  • The Legislature will conduct much of its business via Zoom this year, including public hearings.
  • Legislators will convene at the Augusta Civic Center instead of the State House for debate and floor votes. Although those sessions will be closed to the public, you can watch Senate sessions HERE and House sessions HERE.
  • The public can still testify, but you must register no later than 30 minutes before the hearing begins. Register and submit your testimony electronically HERE
  • You can also submit testimony online and watch the hearings via each committee’s YouTube channel.
  • Find more in this resource from Maine Equal Justice. 

Upcoming Hearings & Work Sessions

 

Wednesday, April 21

  • Public hearing for LD 962, to clear the waiting lists for home and community-based services. Read more. 
  • Work session for LD 718, to remove barriers to health care for all Mainers. Read more. 
  • Work session for LD 473, to create the Maine Rental Assistance Program. Read more. 
  • Work session for LD 1337, to support housing programs and stabilize property taxes. Read more.
  • Work session for LD 225, to protect workers with unused vacation hours. Read more. 

Monday, April 26

  • Public hearing for LD 996, to expand preventive dental care to more Mainers. Read more. 

Upcoming Votes

Legislators will reconvene April 28 at the  Augusta Civic Center to vote on bills that have made it through committee and could vote on these bills from our tracker: 

  • LD 265, to expand coverage for postpartum care. Read more. 
  • LD 372, to expand health care for more Maine children. Read more.
  • LD 489, to pass a state environmental rights amendment. Read more. 
  • LD 211, to support emergency housing shelters. Read more. 
  • LD 202, to implement ranked choice voting in state general elections. Read more. 

Call the House at 1-800-423-2900 and the Senate at 1-800-423-6900 and leave messages with your legislators’ names, your name, town, phone number, and how you’d like them to vote. Messages are transcribed immediately and left on legislators’ desks. Not sure who your legislators are? Find them HERE

Maine Legislature Speed Dial

Maine House:
1-800-423-2900 (leave a voicemail)
(207) 287-1400 (speak to staff)
Maine Senate:
1-800-423-6900 (leave a voicemail)
(207) 287-1540 (speak to staff)
TTY: Use Maine Relay 711

Legislative Information Office:
207-287-1692

Not sure who your legislators are? Find them HERE.

Pro Tip: Leave messages at the numbers above with your your name and town, your legislators’ names, a bill number, and how you’d like them to vote. Messages are transcribed and delivered to legislators’ desks throughout the day.


Pro Tip: Emails from constituents are particularly persuasive. Find email addresses HERE.

BILLS WITH UPCOMING VOTES

The bills below have been voted on by the legislative committee that held hearings and will move next to the House or Senate for a vote. The timing of votes varies, but you should email your legislators now and write letters to the editor about these bills. 

 

 

Expanded coverage for postpartum care. LD 265, An Act To Provide Women Access to Affordable Postpartum Care.  Sponsor: Sen. Anne Carney (D-Cumberland)
MaineCare coverage for postpartum care currently ends at 60 days after childbirth, leaving many new mothers without health insurance when they need it the most. LD 265 would allow for 12 months of coverage during the postpartum period, a time when significant health challenges can arise, including pregnancy-related complications such as pelvic floor disorders, pelvic organ prolapse, or a separation in the abdominal wall called diastasis recti. Postpartum depression, another condition that may not appear until months after childbirth, affects about 1 in 9 people and can persist for years. In 2019-20, 21 states and Washington, DC took legislative action to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage. Federal coverage through Medicaid has also been extended to 12 months during the COVID-19 crisis, renewing discussions to make it permanent through federal legislation. This comes at a time when the U.S. has the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths among industrialized nations, one-third of which happen during the postpartum period. Low-income Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, and Latinx women are particularly hard hit, with significantly higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. One out of every three pregnant people in the U.S. experience health insurance disruptions at some point before, during, or after pregnancy. More than half of pregnancy-related mortality is preventable, making continuous health coverage all the more critical. A bill similar to LD 265 was introduced in the Legislature last year, with advocates estimating the proposed expansion would cover 700 Maine women. The bill passed out of committee in early 2020, but the session ended before legislators could vote. A public hearing on LD 265 was held Feb. 24 (read the testimony) and the majority of members on the Committee on Health and Human Services voted the bill “ought to pass,” but have not yet released their report. The Senate could vote when the Legislature reconvenes in Augusta.

ACTIONS
» Email and call your legislators and ask them to support LD 265 when it comes up for a vote. Find your legislators and their contact information HERE.
» Help persuade your legislators to support this bill by sharing your story in a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

 

Health care for more Maine children. LD 372, An Act To Provide Maine Children Access to Affordable Health Care. Sponsor: Rep. Anne Carney (D-Cumberland)
This bill would provide health care coverage to as many as 10,000 uninsured children in Maine by expanding the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Cub Care, which offers low-cost health insurance to children whose families don’t qualify for Medicaid (MaineCare). 37% of children in Maine are part of a low-income family and 13.8% live in poverty. In 2018, 5.7% of children in Maine were uninsured—the highest rate of any state in New England. In some Maine counties, the rate is as high as 9.1%. Under current law, Cub Care is only available to children and teenagers at 200% of the federal poverty level, or $25,520 a year for an individual and $43,440 for a family of three. LD 24 would expand eligibility to 300% of the federal poverty level ($38,280 for an individual; $65,160 for a family of three), while also expanding coverage to 19 and 20 year olds and to noncitizens under age 21 years. In addition, the bill would eliminate the current asset test and 3-month waiting period for coverage to begin after the loss of employer-based insurance. At least 13 other states have expanded CHIP coverage and many others are considering it. This bill passed the Legislature last year, but died on the Appropriations Table when the Legislature adjourned early. A public hearing was held Feb. 24 (read the testimony) and the majority of members on the Committee on Health and Human Services voted the bill “ought to pass.” The Senate could vote when the Legislature reconvenes in Augusta.  

ACTIONS
» Email and call your legislators and ask them to support LD 372 when it comes up for a vote. Find your legislators and their contact information HERE
» Help persuade your legislators to support this bill by sharing your story in a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

 

State environmental rights amendment. LD 489, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment. Sponsor: Sen. Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln).
This bipartisan bill would add an amendment to the Maine Constitution asserting that all people in the state have a right to “a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural, recreational, scenic and healthful qualities of the environment.” Maine is
one of 11 states considering legislation to create a state environmental rights amendment this year. Montana and Pennsylvania have had similar amendments on the books for nearly 50 years and New York voters will have a chance to amend that state’s constitution this fall. Environmental protection amendments such as this one, which sponsors are calling the “Pine Tree Amendment,” give environmental rights the same weight as other constitutional guarantees, such as freedom of speech, which also offers a high level of legal defensibility. Constitutional amendments in Maine require a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers for the amendment to go on the ballot for voters to decide. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a public hearing March 8 (read the public testimony) and voted 7-3 that the bill “ought to pass.” The Senate could vote when the Legislature reconvenes in Augusta. Learn more about the amendment and its sponsors HERE.

ACTIONS
» Email and call your legislators and ask them to support LD 489 when it comes up for a vote. Find your legislators and their contact information HERE.
» The bill has bipartisan support but will still need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers, so every vote counts. Help persuade your legislators by making your case publicly in a letter to the editor. Find tips in this toolkit.

 

 

 

Addressing affordable housing and homelessness in Maine. Maine ranks 25th in the nation for housing affordability, with an average rent for a 2-bedroom residence running more than $1,000 a month. The wait list for Maine’s 12,000 Section 8 housing vouchers is more than 20,000 people long, with some applicants waiting years to receive one.Increased demand in combination with limited affordable housing units has resulted in landlords often rejecting vouchers in favor of renters who can pay more. The lack of affordable housing options is one reason Maine has the 12th highest rate of homelessness in the nation and the third highest in New England. We are tracking a number of bills that address the housing crisis in Maine, including LD 211, which is out of committee, and LD 473, which is awaiting a work session. Check back often for new bills as they print.

» Support for emergency housing shelters. LD 211, An Act To Support Emergency Shelter Access for Persons Experiencing Homelessness. Sponsor: Rep. Kristen Cloutier (D-Lewiston).
According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were an estimated 2,106 people in Maine experiencing homelessness as of January 2019, an increase over previous years. Nearly one-quarter of those who were homeless for the 2019 Point in Time analysis were under the age of 18 and one-third were people of color, high figures considering just 18.5% of Maine’s population are children and only about 5% are people of color. Although data from 2020 are pending, early estimates indicate a sharp increase in homelessness in Maine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of unsheltered people thought to be on the rise as well. Maine’s emergency housing shelters were already short on beds and the pandemic has tested them even further. LD 211 would provide an additional $3 million a year through 2023 for Maine’s emergency shelters. A similar bill was voted out of committee in 2020, but the Legislature adjourned before legislators could vote on it. LD 211 had a public hearing before the Committee on Labor and Housing on Feb. 17 (read the testimony) and received a majority “Ought to pass” vote by committee members. The House could vote when the Legislature reconvenes in Augusta. 

ACTIONS
» Email and call your legislators and ask them to support LD 211 when it comes up for a vote. Find your legislators and their contact information HERE
» Help persuade your legislators to support this bill by sharing your story in a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

Implement rank choice voting for state races. LD 202, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Implement Ranked-choice Voting. Sponsor: Sen. David Miramant (D-Knox)
This bill would amend the state Constitution to apply instant runoff voting—known as ranked-choice voting (RCV)—to the governor’s and legislative races. RCV ensures that only candidates who win at least 50.1% of the vote are elected to office. Currently, Maine can use RCV only for Congressional elections. Maine voters overwhelmingly approved instant-runoff voting in 2016 and again in June 2018. RCV was used twice in 2018, for the gubernatorial primaries and the U.S. Senate and House races. Senate and House races did not go to RCV in 2020, but it was used in the presidential race following passage of a law in 2019. Following Maine’s success with RCV and its growing popularity among voters, other states began considering adopting instant-runoff voting as well. In 2020, 22 states and Washington, D.C. introduced legislation to use ranked-choice voting in elections at various levels. Despite criticism from some Republican politicians, RCV does have Republican backers. An exit poll taken on the day of the 2018 midterm elections asked voters whether they think winning at least 50% of the vote in an election is important. There was broad bipartisan agreement, with 93% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, and 81% of Independents saying candidates should only be elected if they capture more than 50% of the votes cast. A similar bill was defeated in the Maine Legislature in 2019. Learn more about RCV from the Maine Secretary of State. The Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs held a public hearing Feb. 10 (read the testimony) and the majority of committee members voted the people Ought to Pass. The Senate could vote when the Legislature reconvenes in Augusta. 

ACTIONS
» Email and call your legislators and ask them to support LD 202 when it comes up for a vote. Find your legislators and their contact information HERE
» Help persuade your legislators to support this bill by writing a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

BILLS WITH UPCOMING HEARINGS OR WORK SESSIONS

All bills in the Legislature are assigned to one of 18 standing joint committees, whose members hold public hearings and work sessions. Usually, you can attend these hearings to observe or to testify. However, due to the pandemic, oral testimony must instead be offered virtually via Zoom or via a toll-free number and you must register with the committee clerk no later than 30 minutes before the hearing begins. You can also watch committee hearings on YouTube. The list below is updated weekly with bills with upcoming hearings or work sessions.

 

 

Clear the waiting lists. LD 962, An Act To Appropriate Funds To Eliminate Waiting Lists for Home and Community-based Services for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Brain Injury and Other Related Conditions. Sponsor: Rep. Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth)
This bill would provide needed services for adults with developmental disabilities, autism, and brain injury and similar conditions who are currently on waiting lists for health, home and community-based services through MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. These services are provided through waiver programs for Section 29, Section 21, Section 20 or Section 18 of Medicaid. As of January 1, 2021, there were 2,111 people on waiting lists for these waivers, the majority of whom are young adults who have recently transitioned or are in the process of transitioning from child services to adult care. Of those on the waitlist, 608 are currently not receiving any services at all, while others are covered under different MaineCare sections. Federal funds cover two-thirds of the cost of these waivers, with the state paying for the rest. Although funding for adults with disabilities was increased in the 2019 state budget, an additional $28 million a year ($16.6 million in 2021-22, $40.1 million in 2022-23) is needed to clear the wait lists for these Medicaid section recipients. The Committee on Health and Human Services (HHS) held a public hearing Jan. 27, 2020, on a similar bill, with the majority of testimony in support of the bill. (Read the testimony.) The committee unanimously voted the bill ought to pass as amended, but it died when the legislature adjourned for the pandemic emergency. A public hearing for LD 962 has not been scheduled. 

ACTIONS
» Testify at the public hearing at 10 am Wednesday, April 21 virtually or via a toll-free number. To testify, you must register no later than 30 minutes before the hearing begins. If you can’t testify during the hearing, you can submit your written testimony electronically. Register and submit your testimony electronically HERE. Watch the hearings HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 962. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Addressing affordable housing and homelessness in Maine. Maine ranks 25th in the nation for housing affordability, with an average rent for a 2-bedroom residence running more than $1,000 a month. The wait list for Maine’s 12,000 Section 8 housing vouchers is more than 20,000 people long, with some applicants waiting years to receive one.Increased demand in combination with limited affordable housing units has resulted in landlords often rejecting vouchers in favor of renters who can pay more. The lack of affordable housing options is one reason Maine has the 12th highest rate of homelessness in the nation and the third highest in New England. We are tracking a number of bills that address the housing crisis in Maine, including these below and LD 211, which has already passed out of committee. Check back often as we will add more bills here as they print.

» Providing rental assistance. LD 473, An Act To Create the Maine Rental Assistance Program. Sponsor: Rep. Victoria Morales (D-South Portland). Maine does not provide enough affordable housing assistance to meet the demand, with a wait list of 20,000 people for section 8 vouchers. 59% of renters who qualify face a severe cost burden, spending more than half their income on housing and utilities. For an extremely low-income family of four, that means annual income not over $25,100. Yet the income required to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at HUD’s fair market rate for Maine is $41,156. LD 473 would address this issue by creating The Maine Rental Assistance and Voucher Guarantee Program, within Maine State Housing Authority. The program would provide financial help for up to 1,000 Maine households and create a network of housing counselors to help people find and keep stable housing. The Committee on Labor and Housing held a public hearing March 3 (read the testimony). The bill was tabled during a work session April 5 and another work session has been scheduled for 12 pm Wednesday, April 21.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Labor and Housing, tell them you support LD 473. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.


» 
S
upporting housing programs and stabilizing property taxes.
LD 1337, An Act To Increase Affordable Housing and Reduce Property Taxes through an Impact Fee on Vacant Residences. Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Kessler (D-South Portland).
This bill would address Maine’s housing crisis by encouraging owners of homes that stand vacant for half the year to put those homes to use for housing, while raising millions of dollars to fund housing programs and stabilize property taxes for Maine residents. An estimated 140,000 residences in Maine—19% of all the homes in the state—remain vacant much of the year, the largest percentage in the country. Under LD 1337, an owner of a residential property that is not used as a primary residence for at least 6 months of the year would pay an impact fee of .05% of the home’s assessed value. The bill exempts most Mainers, including snowbirds, people with low incomes, and those with seasonal camps, and owners could avoid the fee by renting out their residence. The bill’s sponsors note that while many of Maine’s coastal towns are in the midst of a dire housing crisis, far too many homes remain empty much of the year. In Kennebunkport, for example, 47% of the homes are seasonal or vacant. A recent demand for housing has sparked a dramatic increase in housing prices over the past year, with prices up 20%. Those high prices come at a time when there are fewer houses for sale and amid a serious lack of affordable rental housing, leaving many Mainers unable to find or afford a home. In fact, a study by the Maine State Housing Authority found that rent was unaffordable in 15 of the state’s 16 counties and home prices were too high for families with media incomes in 7 counties. LD 1337 addresses that by directing half the funds raised from the impact fee to the HOME Fund, which provides funding to build affordable housing and provide assistance to home buyers and owners and services for homeless individuals. The other half would be used to reimburse municipalities for the homestead property tax exemption. Learn more about LD 1337 in this fact sheet from Rep. Kessler. The Committee on Taxation held a public hearing April 14 (read the public testimony) and will hold a work session at 9 am April 21.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Taxation, tell them you support LD 1337. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Removing barriers to health care for all Mainers. LD 718, An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Residents by Closing Coverage Gaps in the MaineCare Program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Sponsor: Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland).
This bill would expand health care coverage to more Mainers with low incomes by extending MaineCare and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage to noncitizen residents who are ineligible for coverage under the federal health programs, regardless of their immigration status. In 1996, after Congress blocked access to Medicaid and other safety net programs for all but a few categories of immigrants, the Maine legislature took bipartisan action to use state funds to continue coverage in Maine. But in 2011, former Gov. Paul LePage signed a budget that disqualified many immigrants from most benefits, stripping MaineCare coverage from about 1,550 legal noncitizens. LD 718 would reverse that LePage-era policy. Research suggests that providing coverage to noncitizens has positive economic impacts, as delayed care or lack of prenatal care can result in higher long-term costs. Learn more about LD 718 in this toolkit from Maine Equal Justice. The Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing on April 15 (read the public testimony) and will hold a work session at 2 pm April 21.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 718. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» Need help drafting your testimony, a letter to the editor, or an email to your legislators? Maine Equal Justice can help! Share your story here or email Kathy Kilran del Rio or Ambureen Rana. 

 

 

Payment for unused earned paid vacation. LD 225, An Act Regarding the Treatment of Vacation Time upon the Cessation of Employment. Sponsor. Rep. Amy Roeder D- Bangor.
This bill would require employers to pay workers for any unused earned vacation time if they are laid off or choose to leave their jobs, ensuring workers aren’t penalized for not taking their vacation time. The number of people who forgo their earned paid time off, which includes vacation and sick time, has increased in recent years. In 2019, 55% of employees didn’t use all their PTO—a 9% increase over the previous year—leaving an estimated $65.5 billion in benefits on the table. Although there are no federal laws mandating compensation of accrued vacation time when an employee separates from their employer, eight states have passed laws addressing the issue. Maine, along with 41 other states and the District of Columbia, stipulates that only employers with an “established policy or practice” of paying out vacation time are required to compensate when an employee leaves their job. This leaves many Maine workers vulnerable to lost compensation, a jarring reality for many Maine families in the wake of historic job losses during the pandemic. LD 225 classifies earned vacation as wages, which would be due to employees when they leave. A public hearing was held Feb. 10 (read the testimony). The bill was tabled during a March 17 work session and another session has been scheduled for 12 pm Wednesday, April 21. 

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Labor and Housing, tell them you support LD 225. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Expanding dental care for more Mainers. LD 996, An Act To Improve Dental Health for Maine Children and Adults with Low Incomes. Sponsor: Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford).
MaineCare provides preventive dental care for children but is one of only 10 state Medicaid programs to offer emergency-only coverage for adults. LD 996 would change that by adding preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental services for adults 21 years and older. Dental disease was the most common reason for ER visits for Mainers age 15-44 who receive MaineCare or who are uninsured. According to the American Dental Association, 1 in 5 low-income Mainers say their mouth and teeth are in poor condition and that the appearance of their teeth has negatively impacted their performance in job interviews. Research suggests that preventive dental care is far less expensive than emergency treatment and can improve overall health. In fact, an analysis by the Health Policy Institute suggests that within 3 years of passage, LD 996 could result in a savings of nearly $4 million to the state in reduced medical costs from people with diabetes, heart disease, and pregnant people alone. This bill was first introduced in 2019 and again in 2020. Last year, advocates estimated expansion would reach an estimated 70,000 Mainers and have an annual cost of $3.9 million. That investment would yield an economic return of $21.6 million annually through an increase in federal funds and an increase in dental spending, with the largest boost coming to Maine’s rural areas. The Committee on Health and Human Services has not yet scheduled a public hearing. Learn more in this toolkit from Maine Equal Justice.

ACTIONS
» Testify at the public hearing at 1 pm Monday, April 26 virtually or via a toll-free number. To testify, you must register no later than 30 minutes before the hearing begins. If you can’t testify during the hearing, you can submit your written testimony electronically. Register and submit your testimony electronically HERE. Watch the hearings HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 996. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

OTHER BILLS WE’RE TRACKING

 

 

 

Making health care work for more Mainers. In 2014, Maine ranked 11th in the nation in per capita health care spending, at an average of $9,531 per person. That’s a 49% increase since 2000 and more than $1,500 higher than the national average. A package of health care reform bills seeks to address this issue by reigning in health care spending, holding drug manufacturers responsible for unnecessary price hikes, increasing transparency in prescription drug pricing, and making an emergency supply of insulin available from pharmacies around the state. Called the “Making Health Care Work for Maine,” the package is among a slate of bills the Legislature will consider to increase health care access for Mainers. The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services will hold public hearings on these bills at 10 am Tuesday, April 13. Learn more about this package below and in this review from Maine Center for Economic Policy

Reigning in health care spending. LD 120, An Act To Lower Health Care Costs through the Establishment of the Office of Affordable Health Care. Sponsor: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
This bill would establish an independent, nonpartisan legislative office charged with creating evidence-based solutions to address the rising cost of health care and limit the amount of annual cost increases.The office would make recommendations to the Legislature to help keep health care costs down and be required to share its findings in an annual report and public hearing. The office is similar to a commission in Massachusetts credited with an estimated $7.2 billion health care savings and with keeping that state’s health care spending growth rate to below the national average for more than a decade. Read the public testimony from the April 13 public hearing.

Emergency access to insulin. LD 673, An Act to Create the Insulin Safety Net Program. Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Breen (D-Cumberland).
This bill requires manufacturers to provide pharmacies with supplies of insulin to be used by Mainers with diabetes and an urgent need for insulin who don’t have health insurance, a prescription, or can’t afford the cost of the drug. Maners could receive a 30-day supply from a Maine pharmacy for no more than $35. It is modeled after a similar bill passed last year in Minnesota, which has already withstood a legal challenge from the pharmaceutical industry. Read the public testimony from the April 13 public hearing.

Blocking unnecessary prescription price increases. LD 675, An Act to Protect Maine Consumers from Unsupported Price Increases on Prescription Medicines by Creating an Independent Review Process. Sponsor: Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin).
Maine is 1 of 5 states considering legislation to block unnecessary prescription drug increases. Prescription drugs account for 10% of overall health care spending in the U.S. This bill would block manufacturers from arbitrarily hiking the cost of prescription drugs without a legitimate reason. The legislation levies fines against any company that raises prices without strong clinical evidence supporting the price increase, as determined by the independent Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which regularly reviews costs of new and expensive prescription drugs. Any fines collected would be deposited in a new Unsupported Prescription Drug Price Increases Fund, which will be used to offset costs to consumers. Read the public testimony from the April 13 public hearing.

Increasing transparency for pharmaceutical companies. LD 686, An Act to Increase Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency. Sponsor: Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc).
This bill would increase transparency in drug pricing by requiring the Maine Health Data Organization to publicly post information they’ve collected from drug manufacturers about plans for price increases each year. Legislators say greater transparency gives consumers more information on drug pricing, makes it easier to spot areas ripe for prescription drug reform, and makes it more unlikely that price hikes will go unnoticed. Read the public testimony from the April 13 public hearing.

An end to pharmaceutical price gouging. LD 1117, An Act to Prevent Excessive Prices for Prescription Drugs. Sponsor: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
This bill would block pharmaceutical industry price gouging by setting a threshold for maximum price increases for common generic and off-patent prescription drugs. A price increase would be deemed excessive if it exceeds 15% of the wholesale acquisition cost of the previous year or 40% of the previous 3 years or $30 for a 30-day prescription. Any price hikes above these levels would trigger a review by the Maine Attorney General, which could lead to a fine. Maine is 1 of 6 states to consider legislation to prevent prescription price gouging. Read the public testimony from the April 13 public hearing.

The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services held public hearings on these bills April 13, but no work sessions have been scheduled.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of these bills, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE

» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services, tell them you support these bills. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

 

Expanding recovery centers in Maine. LD 488, An Act To Expand Recovery Community Organizations throughout Maine. Sponsor: Senator Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln). This legislation provides funding for recovery community centers in the seven Maine counties that do not already have one: Kennebec, York, Waldo, Hancock, Franklin, Somerset, and Piscataquis. Recovery Community Centers (RCCs) are independent nonprofits led by people in recovery that offer peer-based recovery services, public education, and policy advocacy. While they are not treatment centers, they connect people and their families to those services. Maine currently has 13 RCCs in nine counties, all part of the Maine Recovery Hub, an initiative funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and overseen by the Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC). In 2020, RCCs offered more than 6,000 activities for more than 55,000 people statewide. Following a decline in accidental overdose deaths, Maine saw a sharp increase in 2020, with 503 deaths. State leaders, providers, and advocates attribute this 25% increase in part to increased social isolation during the pandemic. A top priority in Governor Mills’ recently updated Opioid Response Strategic Plan is to build and support recovery-ready communities by providing funding for additional community-based recovery centers. This legislation makes an important investment in expanding RCCs across the state as a means of providing innovative, community-based services, led by people in recovery, to respond to the needs of Mainers who are in recovery. Learn more in this fact sheet from Maine Recovery Advocacy Project. The Committee on Health and Human Services held a hearing on the bill April 12 (read the public testimony) but has not yet scheduled a work session. 

ACTIONS
»
You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 488. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Create online voter registration. LD 1126, An Act To Update the Voter Registration Process. Sponsor: Rep. Teresa Pierce (D-Falmouth). With this bill, Maine would join 40 other states and Washington, D.C. in offering online voter registration (OVR). Studies show that OVR reduces barriers for voting, costs less than paper registration, and increases opportunities for participation—especially among people of color and young voters. A study of Georgia’s online registration system found that 71% of people who registered online turned out to vote, compared with a turnout rate of just 48%-52% among those who registered by mail or in-person. After Arizona launched its OVR system in 2002, the state saw a 24% increase in registration among voters age 18-24, while also slashing the state’s registration costs, from 83 cents for each paper registration to just 3 cents for an online registration. Contrary to some claims, OVR offers a number of security protections to prevent fraud and reduces the risk of errors caused by the manual transcription of paper forms. LD 1126 would allow voters to register, enroll in a political party or change their party affiliation, and submit a name or address change, all online. ID requirements for registering online would be the same as those for registering in person. The Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs held a public hearing on April 5 (read the public testimony). The bill was tabled during an April 9 work session and additional work sessions have not yet been set.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, tell them you support LD 1126. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE. You can also contact your legislators using this form from the League of Women Voters of Maine.
» Need help with your testimony or a letter to the editor? Contact Will Hayward with the LWVME at will@lwvme.org

 

 

 

Helping Maine children living in poverty. LD 78, An Act To Protect Children from Extreme Poverty by Preserving Children’s Access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Benefits. Sponsor: Rep. Michele Meyer (D-Eliot). Between 2010-2019, the number of Maine children living in poverty who received Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) decreased by 73%, with more than 18,000  children losing access to the federal program, which provides assistance to low-income families. The cuts were a result of policies enacted under former Gov. Paul LePage, including inflexible time limits and “full family sanctions,” which required the state to strip TANF aid from entire families if just one parent fell out of compliance with program requirements. In 2019, there were 33,026 children in Maine living in poverty, but only 6,692 of them were receiving TANF benefits. Studies suggest that families who lose TANF benefits have increased risks of homelessness, food insecurity, and even family separation. LD 78 would allow children in a household to continue to receive assistance, terminating benefits only for the parent who is out of compliance. The legislation comes at a critical time, as the number of Maine children living in poverty remains among the highest in New England. Although the full impact of the pandemic on child poverty in Maine is not yet known, the number of Maine children receiving TANF in 2020 rose 8%, the first increase in a decade. The Committee on Health and Human Services (HHS) held a public hearing April 1 (read the public testimony). The bill was tabled during an April 9 work session and additional work sessions have not yet been scheduled.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide. Need help with your LTE? Contact Deborah Ibonwa with Maine Equal Justice at dibonwa@mejp.org.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 78. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Clear the waiting list for children’s mental health services. LD 496: An Act To Clear Waiting Lists for and Ensure Timely Access to Mental Health Services for Maine Children. Sponsor: Representative Lori Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach).
More than 1 in 4 Maine children have at least one mental health disorder, the highest rate in the nation according to a new study. With a months-long waiting list that includes more than 3,300 children needing mental and behavioral health services, the situation is only expected to worsen as a result of stress and anxiety during the pandemic. Maine has a concerning track record when it comes to meeting children’s mental needs. In December 2018, the state released its first comprehensive assessment of behavioral health services in 20 years, citing access to services and a shortage of child behavior health workers as primary barriers to addressing mental health issues among Maine children. Those interviewed for the report cited low salaries as one reason for the lack of providers. The last significant reimbursement rate increase came nearly 15 years ago, and remains low. At an agency reimbursement rate of less than $60 an hour, bachelor level behavioral health professionals are lucky to make an hourly wage of just $16-$17. Providers who aren’t required to have a bachelor’s degree earn even less, at an average of $12.80 per hour. Compounding the issue of pay is a lack of access to care in more rural areas of the state due to a lack of local providers. LD 496 seeks to address this issue by funding a 30% increase in MaineCare reimbursement rates for behavioral and mental health services, a move that would help the state attract and retain providers across Maine. The Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing April 2 (read the public testimony), but not work session has been scheduled. 

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 496. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Making absentee voting more accessible. LD 148, An Act to Establish Ongoing Absentee Voting. Sponsor: Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford).
This bill would create an ongoing absentee voter option in Maine, allowing voters who sign up to receive an absentee ballot for all local, state, and federal elections without having to submit a request. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 57.2 million people voted early, absentee, or by mail in 2016, more than double the number in 2004. In Maine in 2016, one-third of all votes cast were made via absentee ballot. In 2020, absentee ballots accounted for more than half of the total. Federal law already allows all overseas voters to request absentee ballots on an ongoing basis, and 15 other states and Washington, D.C. offer some sort of permanent absentee voting option. Ongoing absentee voting is convenient for voters, with 68% of voters in states with permanent absentee laws voted with an absentee ballot in 2018. Permanent absentee ballot voting also reduces the number of absentee ballot requests elections officials must mail and process. And contrary to some claims, studies have found no evidence that absentee voting increases the risk of voter fraud or favors one party over another. LD 148 requires election clerks to match the signature on the back of an absentee ballot envelope with a voter’s registration card and requires clerks to contact voters if there are any problems. Voters are removed from the permanent absentee voter list when they die, move to another town, ask to be removed, or if their voter status is marked inactive or cancelled. Ongoing absentee voter status would go into effect in 2023. A public hearing was held Feb. 8 (read the testimony). The bill was tabled during a Feb. 22 work session and another session has not yet been scheduled.

ACTIONS
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, tell them you support LD 148. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

Expanding MaineCare transportation coverage. LD 17, Resolve, To Provide Rural Nonmedical Transportation Services to the Elderly and Adults with Disabilities Receiving Home and Community Benefits under the MaineCare Program. Sponsor: Sen. Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln).
This bill seeks to create a pilot program to provide seniors and adults with disabilities greater access to their communities by expanding MaineCare coverage of non-medical transportation for basic needs to people who have no other means of transportation. Currently, MaineCare provides reimbursement for transportation for non-emergency medical appointments. LD 17  would expand that coverage to include non-medical appointments for people who receive services through Section 19, which includes seniors and people with disabilities age 18 and over who qualify for nursing facility level of care. Studies suggest that 21% of people 65 and older don’t drive; far more have no transportation options. These non-drivers are more likely to skip doctor’s visits and make fewer trips out to eat, shop, or visit with friends and families. In Maine, 72% of seniors live in communities without access to fixed or flex route transit systems. The legislation would also expand transportation access to people with disabilities, which could allow them to remain independent. Currently, 1,600 people receive Section 19 waivers and could benefit from expanded MaineCare access. The pilot project would last 18 months and be followed by a report outlining how such a program would be implemented statewide. The bill was originally introduced in the 2020 session, and was approved by the Committee on Health and Health Services (read the testimony). An early adjournment due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a floor vote on the bill, so it begins the legislative process anew this session. A public hearing was held Feb. 10 (read the testimony). The bill was tabled during a Feb. 23 work session and another work session has not yet been scheduled. 

ACTIONS:
» You can still submit your testimony in support of this bill, which will be shared with committee members and included in the permanent record, although it will not be added to the bill web page. Submit your testimony electronically HERE.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Health and Human Services, tell them you support LD 17. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

 

Ban seclusion and restraints in Maine schools. LD 1373, An Act To Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools. Sponsor: Rep. Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth).
Maine schools used more than 20,000 restraints and seclusions on Maine students in 2017-2018, a rate 4-11 times higher than the national average. According to a report from Disability Rights Maine, the vast majority of these children—77% of those subjected to restraint and 79% of those subjected to seclusion—are students with disabilities. LD 1373 would end that by banning seclusion, chemical restraints, mechanical restraints and certain physical restraints of students in all Maine schools. The Department of Education passed rules in 2012, known as Chapter 33, governing the use of seclusion and restraints in schools. Advocates say the rules have failed to reduce the use of this treatment and have called on the Legislature to ban the use of restraints and seclusion. Legislators passed a similar measure in 2019, carrying the bill over to 2020 for funding. It died on the Special Appropriations table when the Legislature adjourned early due to the pandemic. Seclusion and restraint are used in schools across the nation, with one report citing their use on more than 100,000 students in 2017-2018. An analysis of that report found that Maine ranked 14th in the use of seclusion and 26th for the use of restraints. As is the case here, the majority of students nationwide who are subjected to this treatment are children with disabilities. Congressional Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to pass a federal bill to ban these practices nationwide, with the most recent version introduced in November 2020, with Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree as a co-sponsor. Learn more about LD1373 in this fact sheet from the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council and Maine Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion (CARS). The Education Committee has not yet scheduled a public hearing. 

 

 

 

Tax credit for family caregivers. LD 296, An Act To Provide a Tax Credit for Family Caregivers. Sponsor: Kristen Cloutier (D-Lewiston).
An estimated 181,000 Mainers provide 152 million hours of care to adult family members who need help with daily activities such as bathing, eating, and dressing. Most of that work is unpaid and may actually cost families lost wages when a caregiver has to leave their job to provide the care a family member needs. In Maine, 14% of workers have had to quit their jobs or reduce their work hours for more than 2 weeks to care for a loved one. A recent study found that the average caregiver loses more than $300,000 in lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits. Legislators plan to introduce a bill to help many of these caregivers by giving a $2,000 tax credit to individuals who provide care to eligible family members, such as a spouse, registered domestic partner, or blood relative age 18 and older. The credit would be available to individuals making less than $75,000 or married couples filing jointly who make $150K or less. A similar bill introduced last year received unanimous support in committee, but was unable to go for a floor vote before the Legislature adjourned. The Committee on Taxation has not yet scheduled a public hearing.

 

 

 

State Equal Rights Amendment. LD 344, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Explicitly Prohibit Discrimination Based on the Sex of an Individual. Sponsor: Rep. Lois Reckitt (D-South Portland).
A bill to amend the state constitution to prohibit sex discrimination will be re-introduced this year. If passed, Maine would become the 26th state to adopt a state constitutional Equal Rights Amendment. Legislators came close to passing a state ERA in 2017, but Republicans blocked the two-thirds passage required for state constitutional amendments. The bill came close again in 2020, but the session adjourned before final votes could be taken. ERA opponents say sex discrimination is already banned in existing federal law and the 14th and 19th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. However, legal scholars—including Supreme Court justices—have said those amendments don’t prohibit sex discrimination. Current laws only protect federal and state employees and public school students and can be repealed by Congress. Maine ratified the federal Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1974. Constitutional amendments must be passed by two-thirds majorities in the Senate and House and then go to the voters for passage. The Committee on the Judiciary has not yet scheduled a public hearing. 

 

 

Restoring Tribal Sovereignty.  (Bill not yet printed)
Lawmakers are re-introducing legislation to
enact consensus recommendations from the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act, which was established by the Legislature last year. The recommendations, released in January 2020, address long-standing issues with the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980, a negotiation between the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the state and federal governments. For 40 years, language in the settlement has been used to treat the Tribes as little more than municipalities, leaving them with fewer rights than those of all other federally recognized Tribes across the country. Tribal leaders have argued that the act is a “failed experiment” and created barriers to Tribal economic development and disparities in education, health care, and public safety between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Proposed legislation would address this by restoring the Tribal sovereignty of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians over a range of issues, including the prosecution of crimes on tribal lands, the regulation of fishing, hunting, and other uses of natural resources on tribal lands, gaming, taxation, and land acquisition. The task force’s recommendations do not affect the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, who are pursuing their own sovereignty proposal through parallel efforts. Although Democratic leaders in the Legislature support the bill, Gov. Janet Mills has expressed concerns about its “sweeping nature,” objections that took some task force members by surprise. The bill, originally introduced in the last session, garnered strong support when it came before the Judiciary Committee early in 2020 (read the testimony). An early adjournment due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a committee vote, but legislators will consider the issue again this term. 

 

 

 

Paid family and medical leave. (Bill not yet printed)
The U.S. is the
only industrialized nation in the world without a paid family leave system, even though 85% of Americans support the idea. Legislators are proposing a bill to create a commission to study the need for paid family and medical leave in Maine and draft a plan to implement a program. Studies suggest that paid family leave reduces the financial burden of illness, boosts worker morale and productivity, and supports economic growth. PFML also is associated with a 10% drop in infant mortality. Under a similar law in California, one of 5 states with PFML, 87% of employers report no increased costs as a result of their paid family leave program, and 9% reported decreased employee turnover. 

 

 

Ending forced arbitration. (Bill not yet printed)
Legislators plan to re-introduce a bill to end “forced arbitration,” which blocks employees from suing their employers over lost wages, unsafe working conditions,
sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other labor law violations. Under arbitration, workers must resolve legal disputes through an arbitrator, who is usually chosen by the employer. Only about 1 in 5 workers win their case through arbitration and their financial settlements are usually far lower than they would be in court. Nationwide, about 60 million workers are unable to sue their employers. In Maine, as many as half of all employers force employees to sign arbitration agreements. Last year, lawmakers proposed a measure to strengthen current whistleblower protections to address this problem as well as a lack of resources within the state Department of Labor. The bill, which was introduced last session, had a public hearing in May 2019. (Read the testimony.) 

BILLS THAT PASSED OR DIED

 

Honoring Maine LGBTQ+ veterans. LD 173, An Act To Restore Honor to Certain Service Members. Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Wood.
This legislation would provide a pathway to a discharge upgrade for veterans who were less than honorably discharged solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Before 1993, service members who engaged in homosexual conduct were likely to receive discharges that were “less than honorable,” denying them access to full VA benefits, such as the GI Bill and health care coverage, that they should otherwise have received under state law. Nationwide, more than 100,000 people were released from the military due to sexual orientation from World War II to the present. Military discharge decisions can only be formally changed by the federal government, but legislation to do this on a national level has been stalled in the U.S. House since 2013. LD 173 would require the Maine Bureau of Veteran’s Services to treat such discharges as honorable, so those veterans would then be entitled to certain rights, privileges, and benefits under state law. New York passed similar legislation in 2019 and federal legislators have recently re-introduced the Restore Honor to Service Members Act. The future of that bill is unclear. For veterans in Maine who were denied the rights and benefits solely because of their sexual identity, LD 173 is an important step in addressing the impact of discrimination in the workplace, and in making reparations. A public hearing was held Feb. 8 (read the testimony) and the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs voted that the bill “ought to pass.” 
PASSED. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers by a voice vote (no roll call) and is headed to the governor for signature!

 

 

Increasing racial equity in legislation. LD 2, An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process. Sponsor: Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland). This bill would allow legislators to request “racial impact statements” to measure how proposed legislation might create new or deepen existing racial disparities in Maine. Legislators already use impact statements to predict unforeseen economic or environmental harms before a bill is passed. Racial impact statements offer a similar tool to predict how proposed legislation might negatively affect racial and ethnic populations. Long viewed as a vehicle for dismantling systemic racism in the criminal justice system, racial impact statements are being used to draft legislation in a number of areas, ranging from education policy to budgeting. The nation’s first law requiring racial impact statements was passed in Iowa in 2008. Since then, at least 13 other states have passed or introduced similar measures. Including racial impact statements in Maine’s lawmaking process was one of several recommendations in a report from the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations, released last year. LD 2 would commission a study of how racial impact statements have been employed in other states and how they could be generated and used in Maine, with a pilot project launching in January 2022 during the 130th Legislature’s second regular session. Depending on the results, racial impact statements could be fully implemented beginning in 2023. More details on LD 2 and racial impact statements is available in this fact sheet from the Coalition on Racial Equity. A public hearing was held Feb. 3, with almost all testimony in support of the bill. (Read the public testimony, including testimony submitted by Suit Up Maine.) The Committee on State and Local Government voted 7-5 in support of the legislation.
PASSED. This bill is now law! It passed unanimously in the House and by a vote of 25-7 in the Senate (see how your senator voted).

 

COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights. LD 1, An Act To Establish the COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights. (Emergency) Sponsor: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford).
This legislation would help Mainers avoid financial or other barriers to getting tested and vaccinated for COVID-19. As of Feb. 14, 2021, 42,529 Mainers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 649 have died. LD 1 would enshrine many of the temporary federal rules related to testing and vaccination into state law, including requiring that all Maine-regulated health insurance plans cover the cost of COVID-19 screening, testing, and vaccination and waive all co-pays. It also eases requirements for telehealth visits and allows health care professionals to prescribe a longer supply of medications to reduce pharmacy visits. Other key provisions include requiring testing sites to inform uninsured Mainers if they charge a testing fee and to provide a list of no-charge testing sites; increasing vaccine distribution capacity by allowing additional health care providers to administer it; and extending coverage to other groups as vaccine approvals are expanded. This legislation would significantly reduce barriers of cost and access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination for Mainers. A public hearing was held Feb. 23 (read the testimony) and Gov. Janet Mills has announced her support for the bill. The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services had a divided voted on the bill, with two Ought to Pass as amended reports.
PASSED. This bill is now law! It passed unanimously in both chambers (no roll call). 

Other Legislative Trackers

 A number of advocacy organizations we work with maintain legislative trackers as well, often tracking far more bills than we can. Find links to them below. 

 

Legislative Advocacy Training

Advocacy organizations we work with offer trainings to help you learn how to effectively lobby your legislators.

 

  • Maine Women’s Lobby: Bill Bites weekly livestream lunches with legislators every Thursday from 12:15-12:30 pm. Sign up here. 
  • Natural Resources Council of Maine: Take Action Toolkit, with tips on contacting legislators, testifying, and writing LTEs. Find it here.
  • ACLU of Maine: Legislative Action Center, with tips on testifying and the legislative process. Find it here.
  • Maine Equal Justice: Advocacy 101 training program on advocacy and leadership skills. Find it here.
  • League of Women Voters of Maine: Legislative advocacy webinars and other resources. Find it here.
  • Maine People’s Alliance: Lobby Team trainings and updates every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30-11:30 AM.  Find it here. 

How do I…

Find my legislators?

Not sure who your legislators are? Find a list of all your state and federal elected officials HERE. Or visit the Legislature website to find a full list of all Maine Senators and Maine Representatives.

Look up a bill?

You can look up any bill that has been introduced into the Legislature on the Maine Legislature web site, by searching by the bill number, the sponsor’s name, or the bill title. Bills are added to the search once they have been printed and assigned an LD number.

Easily track legislation?

The Legislature considers thousands of bills each session. We track several dozen key bills, as do a number of advocacy organizations (see above for links). You can also search for a bill by LD number or text search.

Pro Tip: You can also sign up to receive email alerts on House and Senate calendars, legislation status, public hearings dates, and more through the Maine Legislature Mailing List.

Testify at or attend a public hearing?

All bills and state agency commissioner nominees are assigned to one of 18 standing joint committees and receive a public hearing. Usually, you can attend these hearings to observe or to testify. However, due to the pandemic, testimony cannot be offered in person at the State House this session and must instead be offered virtually or via a toll-free number during committees’ public hearings. To provide oral testimony, you must register no later than 30 minutes before the hearing begins. You can register and submit your testimony electronically HERE. Have questions? A list of committee clerks and their contact information is below. 

People with special needs who require accommodations to participate in a hearing should contact the Legislative Information Office as soon as possible by phone (207) 287-1692 or email lio@legislature.maine.gov.

Pro Tip: Find out if one of your legislators serves on the committee before you testify and contact her/him/them in advance with your concerns. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE. Find a list of members of each committee from the drop-down menu of Joint Standing Committees HERE.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to testify but can’t make the hearing, you may submit written testimony via the Legislative Information Office’s online form. While all submitted testimony is shared with committee members and becomes part of the public record, only testimony submitted online by midnight on the day of the bill’s public hearing will be included on the bill’s web page.

Legislative committee clerks

Submit testimony or listen to a public hearing if I can't attend in person?

If you’d like to testify but can’t make the hearing, you may submit your testimony electronically via the Legislative Information Office’s online form. While all submitted testimony is shared with committee members and becomes part of the public record, only testimony submitted online by midnight on the day of the bill’s public hearing will be included on the bill’s web page.

All public hearings are broadcast via the committees’ YouTube channels. 

Pro Tip: You can find the room assignments for public hearings on the legislative calendar.

Watch or listen to the House and Senate during a session?

House and Senate sessions are livestreamed via the House Chamber Live Video or the Senate Chamber Live Video.

Find my legislators' committees?

Find out where your legislators serve on the list of Joint Standing Committees.

Pro Tip: Committee clerks are a great resource, and every committee has one. They track legislation, sometimes know in advance when a public hearing might be scheduled, and often can provide updates on a bill’s status. They are helpful and respond quickly to inquiries from Maine residents. Find clerks’ contact information on each committee’s page at the link above.

Find out how my legislators voted?

Check the websites for the House Roll Call and Senate Roll Call. Individual roll calls are also listed on the bill listings.

Pro Tip: Some bills will pass by a voice vote, also called “under the hammer,” in which unanimous approval is presumed unless an objection is raised. Voice votes do not have a roll call.

Learn how a bill becomes a law in Maine?

Thousands of bills can be introduced in a single legislative session. Many don’t get far but those that do travel a complicated path. Learn more about how a bill becomes law in Maine in this overview from the Clerk of the House and Secretary of State.

Pro Tip: The Legislative Information Office is a nonpartisan public information office whose staff can answer questions about the legislative process, bill status, committee meetings, and just about anything else related to the Legislature.

You can reach them at 207-287-1692 or by email at webmaster_lio@legislature.maine.gov.

Find a copy of the Maine State Constitution?

Read the Maine State Constitution and other session laws and statutes on the Maine Legislature website.

Register to vote?

Really want to effect change in Maine government? Vote! Find information about registration on the Secretary of State webpage.