One of MPA’s continued priorities is ensuring that Maine accepts the federal health care dollars provided by the Affordable Care Act to expand health care to thousands of low-income Mainers. This bill was presented as a conservative compromise that would have expanded health care to 70,000 Mainers through a privatized MaineCare plan. The bill passed the House and Senate, but not with a veto-proof majority. The bill was tabled and died when the legislature adjourned for the session.
House Roll Call # 615
Senate Roll Call # 665
Maine is the oldest state in the nation and one of the most pressing questions this population shift raises is how to ensure that aging Mainers receive high quality care and age with dignity. Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach, and one crucial element is recognizing the hard work that homecare workers do for aging Mainers and ensuring they’re paid fairly for their labor. This bill increased the reimbursement rate the state pays to homecare workers and their agencies. It passed with nearly unanimous support in both chambers and became law without the Governor’s signature.
House Roll Call # 620
Senate Roll Call # 677
Governor LePage and Republican legislators have made it a priority to demonize and attack poor families under the guise of “welfare reform.” This bill imposes harsh and unenforceable penalties on poor families who rely on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Real, substantive welfare reform should seek to move people out of poverty, not punish them for being poor. An amended version of this bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate and with mixed support from Republicans and some Democrats in the House.
House Roll Call # 645
Senate Roll Call # 698
Real, substantive welfare reform should seek to move people out of poverty, not punish them for being poor. This positive bill would have reformed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program with a particular focus on helping Mainers transition into the workforce and creating more stability for families at risk of losing access to housing. The bill passed the House with mostly party-line support and was killed in the Senate.
House Roll Call # 598
Senate Roll Call # 679
Maine should be investing in education, health care and all the other critical priorities for our state instead of giving useless tax breaks to large, out of state corporations. This bill would have given $23 million in tax break to corporations for equipment purchases they already made. It did nothing to encourage investment - these companies have already spent the money - it was simply a handout to large corporations. The bill was amended to strip out the tax giveaway and add in education funding and it died between chambers.
Maine’s mental health institutions - Riverview and Dorthea Dix - are in serious crisis due to chronic mismanagement by the LePage administration that has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding. It’s a complex issue with a complex set of solutions; however, one of the most pressing issues facing these institutions, and one that can be addressed right now, is a severe staffing shortage due to low-pay and unreliable work schedules. This bill, which passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, raises the pay for workers to help reduce employee turnover and forced overtime due to staff shortages. The bill was vetoed by the Governor and then overridden by both chambers to become law.
House Roll Call # 599
Maine receives the best sunshine in New England, but we’re dead-last in the region in solar energy production because our state lacks good policies for it. This bill would expand solar power significantly in Maine over the next five years, allow community solar farms to grow, and make solar more accessible for businesses. After a contentious debate, the bill was amended in the Senate in an effort to find a compromise, however, it wasn’t enough to garner a veto-proof majority. The bill was vetoed by Gov. LePage and sustained in House after several Republicans left the chamber to avoid having to vote against the governor.
House Roll Call # 661
Once again, Governor LePage and conservative lawmakers attempted to target Maine’s immigrants by proposing a last-minute bill to cut off funding to towns in Maine like Portland that prohibit police from checking a person’s immigration status. Maine’s immigrant community should not live in fear of persecution because of their immigration status. Governor LePage’s bill would make immigrants more afraid to report crime and break down the trust between police and their communities. Fortunately, House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe tabled the bill as unassigned to a committee, essentially killing the bill.
LD 1661 - “An Act To Raise the Minimum Wage” (MPA Supported)
Too many families in Maine are working hard and not earning enough to make ends meet. It’s long past time Maine raised the minimum wage. Over the summer, MPA and our allies collected 90,000 signatures to put an increase in the minimum wage on the ballot this November. In order to be sent out to voters, the legislature first needed to vote either to pass the bill outright or vote to send it to the ballot. Despite a concerted effort by corporate lobbyists to attach a weaker, slower competing measure to the referendum to split support for an increase, the bill was sent out to voters on the final day of session without being altered.
At the behest of corporate lobbyists, Governor LePage and Republican lawmakers attempted a series of legislative maneuvers during the session to attach a weaker, slower competing minimum wage increase to the citizen-initiated referendum. The competing measure was designed to split support of a minimum wage increase in the hopes that no increase would pass at the ballot. This bill, introduced in the 11th-hour of the legislative session, was an attempt to pass a standalone minimum wage increase as emergency legislation. After it became clear that the bill would likely be interpreted by the courts as a competing measure, it failed to garner the support needed to pass as emergency legislation. The bill died between chambers.
Seniors who want to be able to stay in their home and age in their communities are far too often forced to choose facility-based care because of high housing costs and healthcare policies that favor facility treatment. Last November, voters overwhelmingly approved the housing bond referendum to invest $15,000,000 into energy-efficient homes for low income seniors. However, Governor LePage refused to issue the bond. In response, Speaker Eves introduced legislation to force the bond to be released. The bill passed the House on a mostly party-line vote and was killed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Roll Call # 525