March 19, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

AUGUSTA– A bill sponsored by Assistant House Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, to give the Legislature the ability to assess the racial impact of pending legislation was signed by Gov. Janet T. Mills on March 17.

“Understanding the impact of legislation on Maine’s historically disadvantaged populations is important work as we seek to address inequities and ensure equality of opportunity in our state,” said Gov. Mills. “I thank Rep. Talbot Ross for spearheading this important, bipartisan legislation.”

LD 2, “An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process,” creates a process of reviewing legislation to evaluate the impact it would have on historically disadvantaged racial populations.

“This legislation is the culmination of work that has taken place for years throughout our long fight for equity and justice. It is a powerful tool to enact laws that consider the impact on populations that experience disproportionate outcomes,” said Rep. Talbot Ross. “It is also the first measure of its kind in the country used to examine racial equity in multiple policy areas. I hope our work here in Maine will inspire other states to pass similar legislation. Last summer, when we took to the streets to march for Black lives, there was a recognition that that alone wasn’t enough to interrupt systemic racism. However, those marches gave us the momentum to pass this groundbreaking bill. I want to thank Gov. Mills for signing it into law and everyone who has lent their voice to this cause.”

“This is landmark legislation for Maine,” said House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford. “This is a significant step toward advancing racial justice in Maine.”

The Legislative Council will begin studying how to implement a system of using racial impact statements and consider which policy areas would benefit from this analysis, including education, health care, employment and wages, housing and criminal justice. The study will be completed no later than Nov. 1, 2021 and the pilot project started no later than Dec. 1, 2021.