Speaker Fecteau lauds Maine House for unprecedented session
AUGUSTA – On Monday, the Legislature completed voting on over 1700 bills. These bills have now had public hearings, work sessions, and votes in the House and Senate since December 2020. The Legislature completed allocating $983 million in federal relief funds before adjourning.
House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford released the following statement:
“This was a Legislative session like no other. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we accomplished together for Maine people, tackling issues that have been impacting our state for years but the pandemic laid bare; urgent needs around affordable housing, workforce issues, and critical health care reforms. Representatives worked together, both in person and remotely for seven months of public hearings, work sessions, and Legislative sessions at the Augusta Civic Center and in the State House. Like so many Mainers who had to make major changes to continue working through the pandemic, I am incredibly grateful to every lawmaker, member of the public and the nonpartisan staff who made this session possible through their innovation and flexibility.”
Speaker Fecteau’s legislative highlights include:
- Extending preventative dental care to 217,000 Mainers: The bill shifts Maine’s reliance on emergency-only dental coverage to a preventative dental care model to improve health outcomes and save the state money over time. LD 996, An Act To Improve Dental Health Access for Maine Children and Adults with Low Incomes received support from public health experts and economists as a smart investment for Maine and passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support. This bill was funded in the biennial budget.
- Bolstering career and technical education centers: LD 144, Act To Fund Capital Improvements to Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions To Bolster Maine’s Future Workforce will provide Maine CTE schools with funding for much-needed equipment so Maine’s workforce has access to the tools they need to learn. This bill was funded in the biennial budget.
- Making voting more accessible by establishing ongoing absentee voting: This bill LD 148, An Act To Establish Ongoing Absentee Voting will allow Mainers over age 65 and those with disabilities to opt-in to have their absentee ballots sent to them for every election. This bill was funded in the biennial budget.
- Reforming Maine’s broken unemployment insurance system: LD 1564, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Unemployment Compensation will help employers and employees navigate the unemployment insurance system and make meaningful changes to improve it. This initiative was enacted this month.
- Defending LGBTQ rights by striking down discriminatory proposals: The Legislature struck down several bills aimed at discriminating against transgender Mainers.
- Cutting red tape standing in the way of creating affordable housing: In an affordable housing crisis, LD 609, Resolve, To Establish a Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions will establish a commission to review barriers to producing more affordable housing in Maine. Some commission positions have now been appointed.
- Passing a bipartisan budget that invests in Maine’s future: The budget includes 55 percent state funding for education, a full restoration to revenue sharing by the end of the Fiscal Year 2023, and critical funding for senior living facilities and direct care workers, plus funding for preventative dental care, CTE schools, and investments in the environment. LD 221, An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General 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, 2021, June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023 was passed with bipartisan support in June. This bill was signed by the governor on July 1.
- Allocating federal pandemic relief funds to aid in Maine’s recovery: On the final day of the special session, the Legislature voted to allocate federal relief funds through LD 1733, An Act To Provide Allocations for the Distribution of State Fiscal Recovery Funds. The $983 million in one-time federal funds will make large-scale investments in affordable housing, emerging and heritage industries, workforce training, high-speed reliable internet, community colleges and universities, state parks, health equity measures and childcare infrastructure. This bill was signed by the governor on July 19.
The House and Senate passed a bipartisan biennial budget earlier in July and completed voting on all bills on July 19. The Legislature will reconvene in January 2022.