MPA's 2022 Legislative Priorities

This year is the second of the 130th session, and the third year when lawmakers are operating under the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when our world is shaken, it creates an opportunity to create something better. 

Most of us, whether we live in Lewiston or Caribou, and whether we’re from here or from away, believe in taking care of our friends, our family, and others in our community

Mainers have shown our best over the past two years. Our elected representatives in Augusta must build on this, and pass policies that will dramatically improve the lives and prospects of all Mainers. Let’s do it!

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Passing a budget that invests in our communities

Economic inequality is nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extent to which some of us are struggling, while others just keep getting richer – and it’s made the situation far worse.  

We should use our historic $822 million budget surplus to repair our broken social safety net and invest in making Maine more equal, across lines of race, class and geography.  That means, at the very least, making sure all the policies passed by the legislature are properly funded.

Creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Policy for all Mainers

Everyone should be able to take care of themselves or a loved one in times of illness or other crises without going into debt, risking their job or housing, or making other terrible tradeoffs.  

We should all have the time we need to care for a new child, care for ourselves or our loved ones when they are ill, take care of a loved one’s military deployment logistics, grieve the death of a loved one, or escape domestic violence. 

Maine’s PFML commission will be recommending how to create a paid family and medical leave program for Maine. The best program will be publicly administered, will be generous enough to meet real needs, will ask employers to contribute at least as much as employees, will be easy to access and administer, and employees will not be able to be fired for taking paid leave. (more on PFML in Maine) 

Correcting an Old Injustice Against Tribal Communities in Maine

Indigenous people lived in this region for thousands of years before European colonizers arrived, but they are still fighting for their rights as sovereign nations to be recognized. 

Tribes in Maine do not enjoy the same rights, privileges, powers and immunities as other federally recognized Indian tribes. We stand in solidarity with tribal nations as they defend their inherent rights of sovereignty and self-determination over their ancestral waters, land and territories. Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross’ bill LD 1626, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act”, would bring Maine in line with how every other state’s laws recognize the rights of tribes to govern themselves.

Closing the Juniper Ridge Landfill for Environmental Sustainability and Justice in Maine

Corporate waste companies are exploiting a loophole in Maine law to dump tons of toxic out-of-state waste, in the State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL). Sen. Anne Carney’s bill LD 1639, “An Act To Protect the Health and Welfare of Maine Communities and Reduce Harmful Solid Waste”, would close that loophole, and limit the tonnage that a Maine waste processing facility can send to JRL to be no more than what they take from original Maine sources; out-of-state waste would no longer be able to be disguised as Maine-generated waste.

It also clarifies that landfilling is not recycling, and no placement of waste in a landfill counts toward the 50% recycling standard that a solid waste processing facility must meet, requires Maine’s solid waste processing facilities to recycle more of the material they receive or cut down on the amount of out-of-state waste they accept. 

The leaching of toxics from JRL is having an outsized impact on local tribal lands and LD 1639 adds environmental justice to the public benefit determination standards for solid waste disposal facilities.

Emphasizing Compassion Over Criminalization

Sen. Chloe Maxmin’s LD 1862, “An Act To Strengthen Maine's Good Samaritan Laws Concerning Drug-related Medical Assistance”, makes it easier to do the right thing – to save a person’s life – without worrying about ruining your own life (or theirs) in the process. LD 1862 would expand the Good Samaritan Law to shield everyone at the scene of an overdose from arrest or prosecution for all non-violent crimes, probation and bail condition violations. This would ensure that everyone feels safe to call 911 and save lives.

Ensuring Health Care Access for All Mainers

Maine is a stronger, healthier, and more resilient state when everyone has health care, including our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers who are immigrants.

LD 718 “An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Residents By Closing Coverage Gaps in MaineCare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program”,  introduced by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, provides MaineCare and the Children's Health Insurance Program coverage for noncitizen residents of this State who are ineligible for coverage under the federal Medicaid program or Children's Health Insurance Program due to their immigration status. Last session the legislature voted to close that gap for pregnant people and people under 21, but now we need to close it for all, regardless of immigration status.

Protecting Maine’s Workers

Workplace rights are meaningless if employees are afraid to use them. Fear of retaliation can be a big factor in workers choosing not to take time off or exercise other rights they may be entitled to. LD 1338 “An Act To Prohibit Employers from Retaliating against the Use of Earned Paid Leave”, introduced by Rep. Rebecca Millett, would ensure that workers are able to exercise their workplace right to earned paid leave without fear of retaliation.

Fighting Climate Change While Creating Good Jobs

LR 2473 “An Act To Ensure Maine Citizens Benefit from Renewable Energy Generation Projects by Establishing Job Quality and Hiring Standards”, introduced by Rep. Scott Cuddy, would apply a prevailing wage to green energy projects would use apprenticeships to create a pathway to good clean energy jobs for women, people of color, new Mainers and other groups underrepresented in the construction industry.

Investing in Maine’s Housing for Now and the Future

COVID has exacerbated Maine’s housing crisis. Recommendations from a recent commission on zoning and land use present an opportunity to strengthen our zoning laws and create comprehensive housing reforms.

We also have the opportunity to invest in the development of new energy efficient affordable housing (LD 1656), expand access to housing vouchers (LD 473), and update the incentives and rules for affordable housing development (LD 1673).

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