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Updated: Sep 12

Maine’s 2023 legislative session proved to be one of the most eventful and historic in recent memory. With the session now closed, lawmakers were successful in passing strong safety nets for Maine families, making healthcare more affordable, improving the quality of life of working families, and protecting ballot access for Maine voters.

Check out our online tool to find out how your lawmakers voted on issues that matter to working families.

Here are a few priority bills lawmakers worked to pass:

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Our lawmakers approved a historic Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program in Maine. Starting in 2026, employees can take up to 12-weeks of paid leave to tend to a sick or dying loved one, care for a newborn, or recover from their own health challenges. This will ensure that working Mainers are able to care for themselves or a sick family member without missing out on a paycheck.

“A Paid leave program fills in the gaps to make sure people don’t lose their financial security when the worst happens,” said Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry.

Funding Childcare

22 percent of Mainers live in an area where there are more than three times as many children under the age of five as there are licensed child care slots, and nearly 85 percent of childcare providers see staff shortages.

The legislature added funds to the budget to ensure that both families and childcare providers have the support they need. This includes expanding childcare subsidies so more families are eligible, raising the monthly stipend for childcare workers, and directing the DHHS to implement a program to achieve affordable childcare by 2030.

Protecting Our Democracy

Maine legislators worked hard during this session to help safeguard democracy by making our elections safer and more accessible for everyone. They bolstered absentee voting by passing legislation to allow all registered voters the flexibility to automatically receive an absentee ballot in the mail each election. “What’s so exciting about this bill is it makes voting even more accessible and convenient for your average Mainer,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.

Lawmakers also passed legislation that prevents a foreign government or entity from contributing money to influence ballot initiatives. The bill also asks Maine’s Congressional delegation to support and promote an anti-corruption amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Janet Mills vetoed this bill, ignoring the will of the Maine people.

Exploring the Public Option

Our leaders approved the development of a commission to study how Maine could establish a public option health care plan in the state. A public option would essentially function as a health insurance coverage program run by the state and made available alongside existing private health insurance plans. The public option would be available to all Mainers, and could ensure lower insurance rates and more comprehensive coverage for everyone.

The commission’s work could start the process of improving healthcare accessibility for thousands of Mainers when they fall sick, and help reduce the rate at which many others accrue medical debt.

Preventing Political Rate Hikes

Mainers experience some of the highest electricity rates in the country while enduring the most power outages of any state. Companies can then take the profits from rate hikes to spend money on political campaigns or ballot initiatives.

Lawmakers passed legislation that prohibits utility companies from regaining any campaign expenses they had previously incurred from consumers via rate hikes. Corporations would no longer be able to spend exorbitant amounts of money on ballot initiatives and ask ratepayers to foot the bill for their political agenda.

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A recent survey revealed that a majority of Mainers believe they are one medical emergency or illness away from financial disaster. The growing cost of healthcare in Maine causes more than one in three residents to skip or delay going to the doctor when sick.

Now Maine lawmakers are looking to change that statistic by making healthcare more affordable. LD 1856: Resolve to Study the Establishment of a MaineCare Public Health Plan, would create a study commission to establish a public option health care plan in Maine.

Under the proposed legislation, the Office of Affordable Health Care and the Department of Health and Human Services would study the options for establishing a MaineCare public health plan. Once their findings are complete, they would submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services with its recommendations, including any suggested legislation.

A public option would function as a health insurance coverage program run by the state and made available alongside existing private health insurance plans. Maine currently has a MaineCare program, which according to the state website, provides free and low-cost health insurance to Mainers who meet certain requirements, based on household composition and income. This newly proposed measure would establish a program available to all Mainers.

As things stand, healthcare affordability remains a critical issue for working Mainers and their families. The Maine Beacon recently reported that more than four out of ten Mainers have medical debt in their household, and nearly all of them who’ve accrued that debt within the past two years still have it.

LD 1856 would initiate the process of developing a more comprehensive and affordable public health care option for working families. We look forward to seeing the Maine Legislature adopt and pass this bill.

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The influx of foreign money into American elections can stifle our democracy. Case in point: the more than $63 million dollars poured in to sway Mainers to support the cross-border corridor project—a project that would ultimately profit energy corporations with ties to Canada and Spain. And, as citizen group Our Power works to push forward their initiative to create a state-run not-for-profit utility company (Pine Tree Power), the foreign-owned parent companies have poured in money to prevent it, outspending Our Power 17 to 1.

This existential threat has spurred Maine lawmakers to introduce LD 1610: An Act to Prohibit Campaign Spending by Foreign Governments and Promote an Anticorruption Amendment to the United States Constitution.

LD 1610 will "reaffirm the power of citizens” by establishing measures that regulate campaign finance laws and secure the sovereignty of Maine voters. Some of these measures include:

  • Preventing a foreign government or entity, such as a corporation or an organization, from contributing funds to influence the nomination or election of a certain candidate.

  • Requiring media outlets to remove any communications created by such entities created to sway the public or government officials on issues related to state policy or foreign relations.

  • Calling on each member of Maine’s Congressional delegation to actively support and promote an anti-corruption amendment to the US Constitution.

This bill affirms the right that government power derives solely from the people. Staunching the flow of foreign donations will uphold free speech, fair representation, and full participation in self-government in the state of Maine.

Over 80,000 Mainers signed a petition supporting this initiative, and folks all across the state stand behind this measure because it will protect elections from corruption and foreign influence. The Legislature has passed LD 1610 and it’s currently on the appropriations table. We urge Governor Mills to sign this critical bill into law.

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