The Maine Legislature will vote soon on cuts to the minimum wage, a solar power tax, lunch shaming, and school health centers and hold hearings and work sessions on guns on school grounds, a Constitutional convention, and DHHS’ use of federal funds. Contact your legislators to let them know how you’d like them to vote.
SUM Admin Team C2A
The Maine Legislature hears hundreds of bills each session. Here, we offer brief details on some of the bills scheduled for upcoming committee hearings or votes. To see the full hearing and vote schedule, visit the Legislature’s website for February, March, and April calendars. To search for a bill by LD number, legislative sponsor, or by keyword text, visit the Advanced Bill Search. Want to participate but can’t make a public hearing? Listen in via the Legislature’s live audio stream. To find your legislators, instructions for testifying at a public hearing, or more information on the legislative process, visit the Maine Government section of our Civic Dashboard. To let your legislators know how you’d like them to vote on the day of the vote, call the House at 1-800-423-2900 and the Senate at 1-800-423-6900 and leave messages for your reps that include your name, town, the name of the bill and how you would like them to vote. The clerk who receives the messages leaves notes on each rep’s microphone on the House/Senate floor. And check back often! We update this list regularly. Know of other bills coming up for a hearing or a vote? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BILLS WITH PENDING VOTES
Cuts to Maine’s minimum wage. LD 1757, HP 1210: An Act To Protect Maine’s Economy by Slowing the Rate at Which the State’s Minimum Wage Will Increase and Establishing a Training and Youth Wage. This bill would reduce the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $9.50 an hour, repealing the living wage increase passed by the majority of voters in a citizen referendum in 2016, and also create a sub-minimum wage for teens. With all Republican’s voting in favor, the bill passed out of committee and is headed to the floor. Because this is classified as an emergency bill, we expected it will be scheduled for a vote in the House very quickly. Learn more in our Call to Action.
QUICK ACTION: Contact your legislators and tell them to vote NO on LD 1757. Find your legislators’ contact information.
School-Based Health Centers for Kids. LD 1710, HP 1190: An Act To Restore Maine’s School-based Health Centers. This bill would restore funding for 15 school based health centers (SBHCs) that fell victim to last year’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget cuts. A public hearing was held Jan. 18 before the Committee on Health and Human Services, which voted 8-3 that the bill “Ought to Pass.” It now goes to the Maine House for a vote. Learn more in our Call to Action.
QUICK ACTION: A vote could come on this legislation at any time. Contact your legislators and ask them to vote YES on LD 1710. Find your legislators’ contact information.
Ban on Food Shaming. LD 1684: An Act Forbidding Food Shaming, Food Denial and the Use of Food as Discipline Involving Any Child in Maine’s Public Schools. This bill bans “lunch shaming,” the practice of publicly shaming children with unpaid food bills, which occurs in schools around the country, including in some Maine schools,. A public hearing was held Jan. 17 and the HHS Committee voted 8-3 that the bill “Ought to Pass.” The bill now goes to the Maine Senate for a vote. Learn more in our Call to Action.
QUICK ACTION: A vote could come on this legislation at any time. Contact your legislators and ask them to vote YES on LD 1684. Find your legislators’ contact information.
No New Tax on Solar Power. LD 1444: An Act to Prohibit Gross Metering (formerly An Act Regarding Large-scale Community Solar Procurement). This bill prevents Central Maine Power from imposing a new tax on solar energy made by Mainers for use in their own homes–electricity that never touches the electrical grid. The bill also increases solar power accessibility by allowing up to 50 people to participate in a community solar project instead of the current arbitrary limitation of 9 people.
QUICK ACTION: A vote could come on this legislation at any time. Contact your legislators and ask them to vote YES on LD 1444. Find your legislators’ contact information.
BILLS WITH UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS & WORK SESSIONS
DHHS Oversight. LD 1435, HP 990 An Act To Ensure Transparency in the Distribution of Federal Block Grant Funds. This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to submit plans for expenditures of federal block grants to the Legislature’s Joint HHS Committee before spending the funds. The legislation was introduced following the discovery that, under former commissioner Mary Mayhew, DHHS misspent $13.4 million in federal funds earmarked for low-income children. A public hearing was held during the last session, with widespread support from five nonprofit agencies and the National Association of Social Workers. The only testimony against the bill was delivered on behalf of DHHS in the LePage administration. A work Session is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20.
QUICK ACTION: If your legislator sits on the committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote YES on LD 1435.
Changing the U.S. Constitution. LD 0, HP 1251, Joint Resolution Making Application To The Congress Of The United States Calling A Constitutional Convention Under Article V Of The United States Constitution Limited To Proposing An Amendment To The United States Constitution To Require A Balanced Federal Budget. Although seemingly innocent, the resolution could open the door to radical changes to the U.S. Constitution, possibly limiting federal jurisdiction in a host of areas, including overriding rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. The legislation in Maine and other states is modeled after legislation drafted by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive, corporate-funded group that encourages businesses to write legislation and pass it on to state lawmakers. ALEC gets much of its funding from businesses in the energy, pharmaceutical, mining, telecommunications and chemical industries. A similar resolution was quashed last year. This is the second resolution before the Legislature this session calling for a Constitutional Convention. The second bill, LD 0, HP 1232 Joint Resolution Making Application to the Congress of the United States Calling a Constitutional Convention Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution Limited to Proposing an Amendment to Impose Congressional Term Limits, was tabled during a work session Feb. 7.
QUICK ACTION: Attend a public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 9 am in Room 214 of the Cross Building. Can’t attend the hearing? You can submit testimony in advance to Committee Clerk Rebecca Harvey and listen to the hearing via the Legislature’s live audio stream. If your legislator sits on the committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote NO on both of these bills.
Guns on school grounds. LD 1761, An Act Regarding the Prohibition on the Possession of a Firearm on School Property. This bill would allow people to have firearms in their cars on school grounds when they are dropping off or picking up a student, as long as they remain in their vehicle and the gun is unloaded and in a locked container or gun rack. The legislation—which is opposed by the Maine Gun Safety Coalition—is similar to a bill that was defeated last year and takes advantage of a loophole in the federal gun-free school law. A public hearing was held Jan. 24, with the majority of testimony opposed to the bill. A work session will be scheduled soon before the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.
QUICK ACTION: If your legislator sits on the committee, contact her/him and ask them to oppose this bill. And send an email to your legislator via a form from Maine Gun Safety Coalition asking them to vote NO LD 1761.
OTHER BILLS WE’RE WATCHING
A ban on conversion therapy. LD 912, An Act To Clarify the Scope of Practice of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy. This bill would ban “conversion therapy”—any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The result of a year-long conversation with stakeholders, including EqualityMaine and GLAD, the legislation would apply to counselors, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other licensed health care professionals. If passed, Maine would be the tenth state to ban conversion therapy, which has been discredited by leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association.
A public hearing was held before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development February 14. A work session has not yet been scheduled. If your legislator sits on the committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote YES on this bill.
Reducing child poverty. LD 1774, An Act to Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments in Families for Tomorrow (LIFT 2.0), aims to increase access to training and education, add more skilled people into Maine’s shrinking workforce, and increase families’ abilities to earn higher wages. Funds for LIFT 2.0 will come from existing federal programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). The bill would provide support for childcare, transportation, and job coaches. A public hearing before the HHS Committee was held Feb. 14. A work session has not yet been scheduled. If your legislator sits on the committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote YES on this bill. Learn more in our Call to Action.
Limits on public referendums. LD 1726: An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Elections. This bill would ban signature gathering for citizen initiatives at polling places on Election Day. The public hearing on this bill was held in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on January 3 and was overwhelmingly opposed. The bill was tabled Feb. 14 during a work session before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has yet to issue a report. If your legislator sits on this committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote NO on LD 1726.
A fee on electric vehicles. LD 1806, HP 1252: An Act To Ensure Equity in the Funding of Maine’s Transportation Infrastructure by Imposing an Annual Fee on Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. This bill would impose an additional annual fee of $150 a year to register a hybrid motor vehicle in Maine and $250 a year to register a battery-electric motor vehicle. The bill unfairly penalizes Mainers for choosing fuel-efficient vehicles and would not meaningfully increase transportation funding. A public hearing was held February 13 before the Transportation Committee. A work session will be held Thursday, Feb. 22. If your legislator sits on this committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote NO on LD 1806.
Transparency in prescription drug pricing. LD 1406, SP 484 An Act To Promote Prescription Drug Price Transparency. This bill requires that drug manufacturers disclose costs for drug production, research and development and marketing and advertising, and gives the Maine Attorney General’s office authority to investigate companies that fail to comply. Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC), which supports the legislation, says it is a critical first step in identifying factors leading to steep hikes in drug prices. According to a 2016 report from the General Accounting Office, more than 300 of the 1,441 established generic prescription drugs it analyzed had at least one price increase of 100% or more in 2010-2015. The Committee on the Judiciary held a public hearing on the bill last year, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A second work session on this bill will be Tuesday, Feb. 20. If your legislator sits on this committee, contact her/him and ask them to vote YES on LD 1406.
Paid family leave. LD 1587, HP 1091 An Act To Provide Economic Security to Maine Families through the Creation of a Paid Family Medical Leave System. The bill, first introduced to the Legislature last year and carried over to the current session, would create a paid family medical leave program for Maine patterned after the unpaid family medical leave program existing in current law. It establishes a state-run program to which eligible employees or self-employed people could voluntarily contribute no more than 0.5% of the employee’s or self-employed person’s wages to an account that they could later draw on during leave for various family-related medical issues. A public hearing was held Feb. 7. A work session has not yet been scheduled.
Protections for people with disabilities. LD 1676, HP 1164: An Act To Reestablish the Office of Advocacy within the Department of Health and Human Services. This bill would re-establish an office eliminated by the LePage administration in 2011 that investigates complaints from people who had family members with developmental disabilities who were receiving state services. A public hearing was held Jan. 31. A work session has not yet been scheduled.
These Maine organizations also track legislation before the current Maine Legislature. Visit the pages below to learn about more bills in the current session.