Maine Legislature Roundup

The second session of the 129th Maine Legislature is underway and the Legislature will consider hundreds of bills during this short, four-month session. Suit Up Maine and Capital Area Indivisible collaborate with other grassroots groups, legislators, and statewide advocacy groups to identify and track bills on a range of progressive issues. On this page, you can find details on these bills, actions you can take, and information about participating in the legislative process. We are adding news bills as they become available, so check back often for updates!

 

Upcoming Public Hearings

Monday, Jan. 27

  • LD 1984, Clear the waiting lists. Read more. 
  • LD 1955, Expanding dental care for more Mainers. Read more. 

Wednesday, Feb. 5

  • LD 2007, Made for Maine Health Care Act. Read more. 


For a full public hearing schedule, visit the Legislature website.

Upcoming Votes

There are no upcoming votes on bills we’re tracking at this time. Watch this space for updates. When a vote is scheduled, you can 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.  And don’t forget to email your legislators about bills that are important to you. Not sure who your legislators are? Find them and their email and phone numbers HERE.

Other Bills We're Tracking

Other bills we’re tracking that are not yet scheduled for a public hearing, work session, or vote can be found HERE.  We track bills from their public hearings to their final votes and, for those that pass, to the governor’s desk. You can also check out other legislative trackers maintained by our sister progressive grassroots and advocacy organizations in the Legislative Tracker list below. 

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 for your legislators at one of the numbers above, including your legislators’ names, your name and town, the bill number, and how you’d like them to vote. Messages are transcribed and hand-delivered to legislators’ desks about every 15 minutes when the Legislature is in session.

Pro Tip: Our legislative liaisons tell us that emails from constituents are particularly persuasive so be sure to email as well!

BILLS WITH UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS OR WORK SESSIONS

 

Expanding dental care for more Mainers. LD 1955, An Act To Promote Cost-effectiveness in the MaineCare Program and Improve the Oral Health of Maine Adults and Children. Sponsor: Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook).
Maine’s Medicaid program, MaineCare, provides preventive dental care for children but offers emergency-only coverage for adults. LD 1955 would change that by adding adult preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental services for adults 21 years and older, reaching about 70,000 Mainers. Dental disease was the most common reason for ER visits for people 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, suggesting adding dental services to MaineCare could reduce overall health care spending. The MaineCare coverage expansion would cost an estimated $6.4 million annually, but would bring in $17 million in federal dollars. The bill is based on similar legislation submitted last year that was later amended to create a work group to study the issue. Thirty-five states offer at least limited adult dental benefits through Medicaid. The Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a public hearing Jan. 27. Maine Equal Justice recently delivered more than 1,500 postcards to Gov. Janet Mills in support of the legislation and is available to offer assistance with writing testimony or letters to the editor. For more information, email Kathy Kilrain del Rio

ACTIONS:
» Testify at the public hearing at 1 pm Monday, Jan. 27 in Room 209 of the Cross Building. Find out how to do that HERE. Can’t attend in person? Submit your testimony electronically HERE and listen to the hearing online
» 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, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1955. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Clear the waiting lists. LD 1984, An Act To Eliminate Waiting Lists for Home and Community-based Services for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Brain Injury and Other Related Conditions (Emergency). Sponsor: Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland).
This bill would provide needed services for adults with intellectual 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 October 2019, there were 1,918 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, 699 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 $80 million a year is needed to clear the wait lists for these Medicaid section recipients. LD 1984 is an emergency bill, meaning it requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers to pass. The Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a public hearing Jan. 27.

ACTIONS:
» Testify at the public hearing at 2 pm Monday, Jan. 27 in Room 209 of the Cross Building. Find out how to do that HERE. Can’t attend the hearing? Submit your testimony electronically HERE and listen to the hearing online.
» 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, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1984. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Made for Maine Health Care Act. LD 2007, An Act To Enact the Made for Maine Health Coverage Act and Improve Health Choices in Maine (Governor’s Bill). Sponsor: House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) and Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
This bill would create a state-run health care marketplace to help control out-of-pocket costs, make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, set Maine-specific deductibles and copays, and make shopping for health insurance simpler. Under the legislation, beginning in 2021, the first medical and mental health care visits of each year would be free, with no copay or deductible, and there would be no deductible for the second and third visits. Beginning in 2022, commonly used medical procedures and visits would have the same deductible, co-pay, and out-of-pocket spending limits. Maine would request a federal waiver to pool insurance plans and premiums for individuals and small businesses so small businesses can benefit from Maine’s reinsurance program. If approved, Maine would be the first state in the country to offer a small-business option such as this. A state-based marketplace run through the federal HealthCare.gov would launch in fall of 2020, with plans to transition to a fully state-run website and call center operated through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The legislation would utilize existing federal dollars and require no new state funding. The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services will hold a public hearing Feb 5.

ACTION:
» Testify at the public hearing at 10 am Wednesday, Feb. 5 in Room 220 of the Cross Building. Find out how to do that HERE. Can’t attend the hearing? Submit your testimony electronically HERE and listen to the hearing online.
» 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, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 2007. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Equal pay for workers with disabilities. LD 1874, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Subminimum Wage. Sponsor: Rep. Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford).
This bill would repeal a state law that allows employers in Maine to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. Under the Federal Labor Standards Act, employers can seek waivers to pay some workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. A bill passed by the House in July 2019 would end subminimum wage for workers with disabilities, but the Senate has not taken it up. According to the Maine Department of Labor, 33.2% of Mainers with disabilities work, with a median income of $18,434, significantly lower than the national average. Although no employers in Maine currently take advantage of the subminimum wage allowance for workers with disabilities, the law was used as recently as 2017 to pay workers as little as $2 an hour. LD 1874 would prevent the practice in the future. If passed, Maine would become the fifth state to ban subminimum wage for workers with disabilities and dozens more are considering similar legislation. A similar bill
failed in the Legislature in 2015. The Committee on Labor and Housing held a public hearing Jan. 22 (read the testimony). A work session has been scheduled for Feb. 12.

ACTIONS:
»
You can still submit 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, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1874. Find your legislators HERE.

OTHER BILLS WE’RE TRACKING

 

Clean up of “forever chemicals” on farms. LD 1923, An Act To Define as a Hazardous Substance under Maine Law Any Substance Defined under Federal Law as a Hazardous Substance, Pollutant or Contaminant. Sponsor: Rep. Jessica Fay (D-Raymond).}
This bill would classify chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) as a hazardous substance under state law. PFAS are resistant to fire, water, and oil and are used in many consumer products, such as non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics. Called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally, PFAS are found in soil and water supplies and are linked to increased cancer risk, infertility in men, preeclampsia in pregnant people, high cholesterol, immune disorders, liver disease, and other serious health conditions. Studies suggest as many as 98% of Americans have some level of PFAS in their blood and up to 110 million Americans may have PFAS in their drinking water supply. In Maine, farms that used PFAS-contaminated sludge as a fertilizer are now testing positive for the chemicals in their water, soil, and milk from dairy cows. The Environmental Priorities Coalition says some 500 farms used the sludge, but only a few have been tested and resources for remediation are limited. LD 1923 would allow the Department of Environmental Protections to utilize resources of the state’s Uncontrolled Sites Program (USP) for site cleanup. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a public hearing Jan. 24 (read the testimony). A 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 Environment and Natural Resources, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1923. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Health care for more Maine children. LD 1539, An Act To Provide Maine Children Access to Affordable Health Care. Sponsor: Rep. Anne Carney (D-Cape Elizabeth).
This bill, introduced in 2019, would provide health care coverage to thousands of 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). In 2017, 4% of children in Maine were uninsured, the highest rate of any state in New England. 41% of children in Maine are part of a low-income family and 14.2% live in poverty. In 2017, 22,310 children in Maine were eligible for Cub Care. LD 1539 would raise the income cap from 200% of the federal poverty level to 325%, eliminate the asset test, and remove the 3-month waiting period for coverage to begin after the loss of employer-based insurance
Thirteen other states have expanded CHIP coverage. A public hearing was held May 2 (read submitted testimony). The House passed the bill 97-47 (see how your rep voted) and the Senate passed it by a voice vote (no roll call). The bill was carried over from the last session and has been placed on the Appropriations Table to await a funding decision.

ACTIONS:
» If your legislators sit on the Appropriations Committee, write them and urge them to fund this bill. Find your legislators HERE.
» Would your family benefit from expanding CHIP? Consider sharing your story in a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide

 

 

Paid family and medical leave. LD 1410, An Act To Create Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits. Sponsor: Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport).
This bill, which was introduced in 2019, would create a universal paid family and medical leave (PFML) program that provides 12 weeks of paid family leave or 20 weeks of paid medical leave. 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. 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. Under Maine’s initiative, which would cover 95% of Maine’s workers, all wage and salary employees would be required to contribute less than 1% of their annual salary to a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund, which covers all benefits and program administration costs. Self-employed individuals would be allowed to opt-in. The program requires no contributions from employers or the state. After contributing to the fund for 26 weeks, employees are eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave or 20 weeks of paid medical leave. Participants are guaranteed job security under the bill. If passed, employees can begin contributing to the fund in January 2021 and begin drawing from the fund a year later. When on leave, employees would receive 90% of their weekly wage up to $415 per week, plus 67% of wages after that. The total weekly benefit would be capped a the state Average Weekly Wage of $830 per week, which is adjusted annually. A public hearing was held last session. (Read the public testimony.) The bill was carried over from the last session and no additional work sessions or committee votes have 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 sit on the Labor and Housing committee, email them and ask them to support LD 1410. Find your legislators HERE.

 

 

State Equal Rights Amendment. LD, 433, 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).
More than 100 legislators are co-sponsoring this bill, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit sex discrimination. 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. 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. The Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing March 7. The House passed the bill 87-54 even though every House Republican voted against it (see how your rep voted). The Senate passed the bill 26-9, which kept the bill alive (see how your senator voted) for another chance of 2/3 passage in the House. The final House vote was not scheduled before the session ended and the bill was carried over.

ACTIONS:
» If your representative voted against this bill in the last session, email and call them and urge them to vote yes on LD 433 when it comes back up for a vote. Find your legislators HERE.
» Consider writing a letter to the editor in support of a state ERA. Find tips in our LTE Guide

 

 

Expanding child care. LD 1760, An Act To Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness. Sponsor: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
This bill would create a pilot project to expand and enhance available quality child care in Maine. Maine families spend as much as 22% of their income on child care, according to Maine Children’s Alliance. In Maine, child care costs range from a low of $6,500 for full-time preschool care in Aroostook County to as high as $15,756 for infant care in Cumberland County. In 2018, 73% of Maine parents with children age 6 years and younger work, according to Kids Count. An estimated 52,535 children under age 6 in Maine need child care, but the state’s child care providers can only serve 46,879, according to Child Care Aware of America. The unmet need has increased, as the number of child care centers in Maine declined by 30% between 2011-2018. LD 1760 would create the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program, run by DHHS, to provide comprehensive, high-quality care for at-risk children under age 6 who are not in kindergarten. The project would increase the number of child care slots in Maine through a pilot program, expand existing facilities, and provide coaching and additional provider support. Funding for the project is under discussion, but would be funded by grants and private donations in addition to state and federal funds. The legislation is supported by a number of child advocacy groups, including Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine Head Start Association, and Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled. 

ACTION:
» Stay tuned for updates.

 

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.

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 19 standing joint committees and receive a public hearing. You may attend these hearings to observe or to testify. Learn where to go, what to bring, and what to expect in this guide from the Maine Legislature. You can also get some pointers from ACLU of Maine.

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.

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 Legislature’s website. Visit the Legislative Media Room, select the appropriate room, then select the hearing you wish to listen to.

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.