Maine Legislature Roundup

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

Public Hearings & Work Sessions

Wednesday, Feb. 19

  • Work session for LD 2094, Restoring Tribal Sovereignty. Read more. 

Thursday, Feb. 20

  • Work session for LD 1613, Support Maine’s family planning system. Read more.


All hearings and work sessions are open to the public. For a full schedule, visit the Legislature website.

Upcoming Votes

  • LD 1948, A ban on pelvic examinations without consent. Read more. 
  • LD 1923, Clean up of “forever chemicals” on farms. Read more.

 

Watch this space for updates on other bills with upcoming votes. 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 VOTES

 

 

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) and has voted that the bill ought to pass as amended, but has not yet sent the bill to the House for a vote.

ACTION:
»  A vote on the bill could come soon. Email your legislators and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1923. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

Ban on pelvic examinations without consent. LD, 1948, An Act To Prohibit, Except in Emergency Situations, the Performance without Consent of Pelvic Examinations on Unconscious or Anesthetized Patients. Sponsor: Rep. Vicki Doudera (D-Camden).
This bill would make it illegal for clinicians, health care providers, and students to perform a pelvic examination on an unconscious or anesthetized patient without prior consent. Although at least 10 states have passed similar bans, the majority currently allow clinicians or medical students to perform pelvic examinations without a patient’s consent, even if they are medically unnecessary. Despite denouncements by the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Association of American Medical Colleges, there are reports of widespread use of unauthorized pelvic examinations in medical schools around the country. Among those supporting the bill are the Maine Medical Association, Maine Osteopathic Association, and the Maine Nurse Practioner Association. The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services held a public hearing Jan. 28. (Read the testimony.) The committee voted the bill ought to pass as amended, but has not yet sent the bill to the House for a vote. 

ACTIONS:
»  A vote on the bill could come soon. Email your legislators and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1948. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

BILLS WITH UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS OR WORK SESSIONS

 

Work Sessions

 

Restoring Tribal Sovereignty. LD 2094, An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act. Sponsor: Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center (D-Rockland).
This bill would 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, 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. LD 2094 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, as the Tribe was not part of the 1980 law. The Committee on the Judiciary held a public hearing Feb. 14 (read the testimony) and will hold a work session on Feb. 19. 

ACTION:
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Judiciary Committee, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 2094. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at JUD@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» Watch videos and read transcripts from task force meetings on the Sunlight Media Collective website.

 

 

Support Maine’s family planning system. LD 1613, An Act Regarding Women’s Health and Economic Security. Sponsor: House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport).
This bill would provide much-needed funding for Maine’s family planning system, a network of 50 health centers that provide reproductive health care to 23,000 patients across the state, including cancer screenings, disease testing and treatment, birth control, annual exams, and other reproductive and sexual health care. Last year, the federal government implemented a new rule targeting reproductive health services funded through the Title X family planning program. The rule, part of an effort to deny patients’ access to legal abortion services, dictates the treatment and medical guidance clinicians can offer patients. As a result, Maine Family Planning, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and others centers in Maine’s family planning system were forced to withdraw from the Title X program or compromise patient care. LD 1613 would make up for some of the resulting funding shortfall. Studies show that Maine’s publicly funded family planning centers help prevent 5,400 unplanned pregnancies each year and have helped Maine achieve one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. Other research suggests that investment in family planning also reduces Maine’s overall health care costs. This legislation would ensure Mainers continue to have access to critical health care services, regardless of their ability to pay. As was the case with the Title X program, funding through the bill could not be used to cover the cost of abortion services. The Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services held a public hearing Feb. 13 (read the testimony) and will hold a work session Feb. 20.

ACTION:
»
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 1613. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at HCIFS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

OTHER BILLS WE’RE TRACKING

 

 

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. The Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing Feb. 13 (read the testimony) but a work session has not yet been scheduled.

ACTION:
» 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 1760. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at HHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

 

Expanding MaineCare transportation coverage. LD 1142, Resolve, To Expand Transportation Services for Seniors Who Are MaineCare Members. (Emergency). Sponsor: Rep. Chloe Maxmin (D-Nobleboro).
This bill would 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 1142, which was introduced last year, 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. A public hearing was held last session (read the testimony) and the Committee on Health and Human Services held a work session Feb. 11. The legislation is an emergency bill, meaning it requires two-thirds support in both chambers to pass.

ACTIONS:
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the HHS Committee, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1142. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at HHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.

 

 

Overtime protections for Workers. LD 402, An Act To Restore Overtime Protections for Maine Workers. Sponsor: Rep. Ryan Tipping (D-Orono).
This bill would restore lost overtime protections to about 28,000 Maine salaried workers who currently are ineligible for overtime, increasing wages by $8.8 million. A 1938 federal law established overtime protection designed to protect low-wage earners from being forced to work more than 40 hours without pay. But the salary threshold for eligibility hasn’t been raised in decades. In 1999, Maine passed a law that tied that income threshold to minimum wage. Today, salaried workers who earn more than $36,000 a year can be made to work more than 40 hours a week without compensation for the extra hours. That means that only about 20% of Maine’s salaried workers get overtime protection. LD 402, which was first introduced last year, would gradually increase the overtime threshold to about $55,000 by 2022—bringing it back to historic levels and restoring overtime for an estimated 28,000 low-wage salaried workers in Maine. Businesses will have the option of providing compensatory time instead of time-and-a-half pay, or giving workers time off during slow work periods to compensate for having to work extra hours during busier periods. The Committee on Labor and Housing held a public hearing in March 2019 (read the testimony) and has held two work sessions so far this year. Additional work sessions have not yet been scheduled. 

ACTIONS:
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Labor Committee, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 402. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at LBHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.
» Read Maine Center for Economic Policy’s legislative brief on LD 402

 

 

Ending forced arbitration. LD 1693, An Act To Enhance Enforcement of Employment Laws. Sponsor: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
This bill would 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. LD 1693, which would strengthen current whistleblower protections, addresses this problem as well as a lack of resources within the state Department of Labor. Workers would be allowed to hire a private attorney who would work on behalf of the state, at no cost to taxpayers. The legislation would boost funding for the state’s labor law enforcement agency by directing 70% of any financial award to the state, with the remaining 30% going to the attorney and the worker. The bill, which was introduced last session, had a public hearing in May 2019. (Read the testimony.) The Committee on Labor and Housing has held a number of work sessions this year, and more of planned soon. 

ACTIONS:
» 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 1693. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at LBHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

Right to strike for public employees. LD 900, An Act To Expand the Rights of Public Employees under the Maine Labor Laws. Sponsored: Rep. Michael Sylvester.
This bill would give the right to strike to teachers and all public employees, including municipal and county employees, state and legislative employees, university, academy and community college employees and judicial employees. The legislation does not apply to public safety workers. Under current law, public employees can go to jail for striking. Although it would apply to all public employees, Maine’s teachers have been the most visible supporters. This reflects a growing national trend of strikes by teachers in states around the country. Steep budget cuts, expanding classrooms, stagnant teacher salaries, and understaffing prompted more than 400,000 teachers in more than 6 states to go on strike in 2018. The 2019 PDK Poll, which has reported on public attitude toward public schools since 1969, found that the majority of teachers surveyed—and a majority of the parents of the children they teach—support teachers’ right to strike for better pay and working conditions. LD 900, which was introduced last year, had a public hearing in April 2019. (Read the testimony.) The Committee on Labor and Housing held a work session Feb. 5 and another one is scheduled for Feb. 12.

ACTIONS:
» 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 900. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at LBHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.
» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

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). The bill was tabled at a work session Feb. 12 and additional work sessions have not yet been scheduled.

ACTIONS:
»
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.
» 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. Send your testimony to the committee clerk at LBHS@legislature.maine.gov and it will be forwarded to all committee members.

» Turn your testimony into a letter to the editor. Find tips in our LTE Guide.

 

 

Tax credit for family caregivers. LD 1919, An Act To Provide a Tax Credit for Family Caregivers. Sponsor: Rep. 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. LD 1919 would help many of these caregivers by giving a tax credit to individuals who provide at least 150 hours per year of care to eligible family members, such as a spouse, registered domestic partner, or blood relative age 18 and older. 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. LD 1919 would provide a tax credit of up to $2,000 to single filers with annual incomes up to $75,000 and married households with annual incomes up to $150,000. Learn more in this MECEP fact sheet. The Committee on Taxation held a public hearing Feb. 6. (Read the testimony). A work session has not yet been scheduled.

ACTIONS:
» If your legislators are among the bill sponsors or sit on the Committee on Taxation, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 1919. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.
» Testify at the public hearing at 1 pm Thursday, Feb. 6 in Room 127 of the State House. 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.

 

 

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 held public hearing Feb 5. (Read the testimony.) A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

ACTION:
» 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 Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services, contact them and tell them you SUPPORT LD 2007. Find your legislators and their contact information, including email, HERE.

 

 

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. The Committee on Health and Human Services (HHS) held a public hearing on Jan. 27, with nearly 100 people submitting testimony, the majority of in support of the bill. (Read the testimony.) A work session will be scheduled soon.

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.
» Write a letter to the editor in support of the bill. Find tips in our
LTE Guide. Maine Equal Justice can also offer assistance in writing an LTE. For more information, email Kathy Kilrain del Rio
» 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 (HHS) held a public hearing Jan. 27, with the majority of testimony in support of the bill. (Read the testimony.) A work session will be scheduled soon.

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.
» Write a letter to the editor in support of the bill. 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.

 

 

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

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.