New laws will help working families, seniors, students and veterans
Measures to invest in education, increase property tax relief, lower taxes for working families and expand access to health care marked the first regular session of the 127th Legislature that wrapped up for the year on Thursday.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers worked collaboratively to accomplish many of these key goals despite obstruction by Gov. Paul LePage and his allies in the House.
“We made great strides to help improve the lives of Maine families against the odds of a divided government,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “Lawmakers came together to do right by our citizens. If you are a senior or a young family struggling to pay your property taxes, you will see more money in your pocket this session. If you are a student struggling to pay for college or a worker looking for job training, you will have more opportunity to get a good job and a better wage. If you are a parent or student or teacher, you will see more investment in the classroom.”
Lawmakers considered approximately 1,464 bills this session, with 436 bills becoming law. Democrats, Republicans and unenrolled members came together to override 126 of 178 of Gov. LePage’s vetoes.
“Time and time again this session, Democrats, Republicans and independents came together to support good policy and stand up to the governor’s politics of obstruction,” said House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “We stood together in recognition of the Legislature’s role with the understanding that our constituents sent us here to get work done.”
Democrats rejected measures to roll back women’s rights, worker’s rights, mining regulations, and voting rights, while fighting to raise the minimum wage and to expand access to health care for working families.
“We made smart, targeted investments to grow our economy and increase prosperity for Maine families. We passed measures that invest in students, workers, schools and higher education. We protected the reproductive rights of women, improved public safety, increased access to health care and boosted public health efforts. Our work will protect our environment and decrease our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. “This is the kind of governance that moves Maine forward, and we did this even with the challenges of a divided government and obstructionism from the governor.”
The Legislature will reconvene for the Second Regular Session of the 127th Legislature in January.
Key New Laws from the First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature
Bipartisan Budget (LD 1019)
Provides a middle-class tax cut for working families: Provides a fully paid for $135 million tax cut per year for 579,000 Maine families, with 75 percent of the benefit going to the bottom 90 percent of families.
Makes Earned Income Tax Credit refundable. Nearly doubles the standard deduction to $11,600.
Bolsters direct property tax relief: Doubles the homestead property tax credit for all Maine families from $10,000 to $20,000.
Increases investment in Maine students, schools and teachers through K-12 public education by $80 million.
Invests in job training: Provides $1 million for job training for workers.
Provides meaningful welfare reform: Encourages welfare-to-work by eliminating the so-called welfare cliff, which has forced struggling Mainers to lose benefits if they earn even $1 more than the income threshold to receive assistance.
Supports veterans: Eliminates income tax pension for all military families.
Measures sponsored by House Democrats and unenrolled members who caucus with Democrats:
LD 1413 An Act To Allow an Attorney To Speak or Provide a Written Statement for a Victim at Sentencing
LD 921, An Act To Strengthen the Right of a Victim of Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence To Take Necessary Leave from Employment and To Promote Employee Social Media Privacy
LD 1176, "An Act To Prohibit the Sale and Possession of Powdered Alcohol in the State
LD 500, “Resolve, To Create a Working Group To Develop Solutions To Meet the Needs for Municipal Volunteer Personnel”
LD 164, “An Act To Establish the Maine Length of Service Award Program”
Education & Economy
LD 878, An Act To Support College Affordability in Maine
LD 231, An Act To Ensure That Schoolchildren with Dyslexia Receive the Assistance Needed
LD 1063, An Act To Promote Community Broadband Planning and Strengthen Economic Opportunity throughout Maine.
Energy / Environment
LD 1215, An Act To Provide Lower Energy Costs to Maine Businesses and Residences by Carrying Out the Legislature's Intent Regarding Funding of the Efficiency Maine Trust
LD 1263, An Act To Create Jobs and Promote Investment in Maine's Economy through Increased Access to Solar Energy
LD 1310, An Act To Amend the Community-based Renewable Energy Program
LD 568, “An Act To Protect Maine Lakes”
LD 1348, An Act To Protect Older Adults from Financial Exploitation
LD 87, Resolve, To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Continue the Study of Long-term Care Facilities
LD 831, Resolve, To Reduce MaineCare Spending through Targeted Prevention Services
LD 787, An Act To Provide Tax Credits for Adult Day Care and Respite and Hospice Care
LD 1205, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support the Independence of Maine's Seniors
Health Care and Public Health
LD 319, An Act To Strengthen the Economic Stability of Qualified Maine Citizens by Expanding Coverage of Reproductive Health Care and Family Services
LD 359, An Act to Assist Persons with Breast Cancer
LD 556, An Act To Require Public Schools To Offer Instruction Related to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and the Use of an Automated External Defibrillator
LD 1125, An Act To Expand Public Access to Epinephrine Autoinjectors
LD 140, An Act To Expand Access To Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Medication
LD 905, An Act To Study Allocations of the Fund for a Healthy Maine
LD 1108, An Act To Protect Children and the Public from Electronic Cigarette Vapor
LD 220, An Act to Require Proper Notification of Life Insurance Cancellation
LD 136, An Act To Clarify That the Medical Records of Applicants for Disability Variances Submitted to Municipal Boards of Appeal Are Not Public Records
LD 401, An Act To Create Transparency in the Mortgage Foreclosure Process
LD 774, An Act To Assist Victims of Crime To Obtain Restitution
LD 1259, An Act To Increase Consumer Protections
LD 844, An Act To Improve Transit Services Statewide
LD 987, An Act To Suspect the Right of an Out-of-state Toll Violator to Operate on Maine Roads
LD 1080, An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, Highway Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017
LD 721, Resolve, To Establish the Commission To Strengthen and Align the Services Provided to Maine's Veterans
LD 170, An Act To Remove the 180-day Active Duty Requirement for the Property Tax Exemption for Vietnam Veterans