Senate President Troy Jackson and a coalition of small Maine business owners yesterday announced LD 1411, "An Act To Establish the Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act." The bill would give preference to Maine-based businesses, workers, and American manufacturing when the state awards procurement contracts, supporting Maine workers, Maine-based businesses, and quality, good-paying Maine jobs whenever taxpayer dollars are spent.

“Buy American, Build Maine is about lifting up the workers, businesses and quality, manufactured products in our own backyard,” said President Jackson. “Throughout this pandemic, Maine workers, businesses and manufacturers have stepped up to serve and support our communities. We owe it to them to have their backs.”

Several states have already adopted legislation that either gives preference to companies based in that state for public contracts or gives preference to American manufactured goods. According to the National Association of State Procurement Officials, at least 38 states already provide some sort of preference to in-state businesses. With this legislation, Maine would be giving Maine and workers the same leg up that many other states are giving their businesses and workers.

“Buy American, Build Maine” legislation is supported by Kathie Leonard, Auburn Manufacturing, Inc.; Ben Waxman, American Roots; Chris Lausier, C. Lausier Family, Inc.; Dan Kleban, Maine Beer Company; Devin McNeill, Flowfold; Brian Lombardozzi, Alliance for American Manufacturing; Tim Kuebler, Dragon Cement; Maine AFL-CIO; Machinists’ Union Local S-89; and Ironworkers Local 7.

“For most Maine business owners, our state isn’t just a place to do business, it’s where we’ve chosen to live, work and put down roots. Our customers are our friends and neighbors. We care about our environment and the future of our state because it’s what’s happening in our own backyard,” said Dan Kleban of Maine Beer Company. "By passing Buy American, Build Maine legislation, Maine lawmakers can support Maine workers and businesses.”

Mainers For Working Families is proud to support “Buy American, Build Maine” legislation and applauds Senator Jackson for introducing this critical measure. Maine workers and entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, and we should be seeking out the wealth of experience in our own communities to support ourselves before looking farther afield.

LD 1411 will undergo additional work sessions in committee before moving to the floor of the House and Senate for votes.

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Over one hundred veterans and family members from across the state have signed on to a letter from Mainers For Working Families calling for the establishment of a statewide Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program. The Maine State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would establish a commission to develop a PFML benefit program.

“As a veteran, I know just how hard it can be to adjust back to civilian life,” said Auta Main, a community organizer for Mainers For Working Families. “Navigating the healthcare marketplace and benefit packages offered through your employer can be very challenging. Even if a veteran is eligible for VA healthcare, their family members may not be. A Paid Family & Medical Leave program would give veterans the security to retain employment, even if they need to take time off for their health or their family’s health.”

“Our veterans gave all of themselves for our country, but when they return home, they’re too often left behind,” said Evan LeBrun, Executive Director of Mainers For Working Families. “We need to do everything we can to help them readjust to life at home, while giving them the time and support they need to heal. A statewide Paid Family & Medical Leave program is crucial for our veterans, so they can care for themselves and support their loved ones, without losing their job.”

A comprehensive statewide PFML benefit program would provide Mainers with extended paid time off to care for a loved one or take care of a personal medical issue.

“We know that veterans experience mental health disorders, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury at a higher rate than people who have not served, and that about 20 veterans a day commit suicide,” the letter states.

“That’s why we, the undersigned, are advocating that Maine create a paid family and medical leave benefit program. We believe that this type of public policy is particularly important for veterans and their families.” To read the full letter, click here.

The Maine State Legislature is currently considering LD 1559, “An Act To Create the Commission To Develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program.” This bill, if passed, would bring together experts on postpartum and maternal care, elder care, employers, and members of the Legislature with expertise on labor issues and family and medical benefits to help make PFML a reality.

The Labor and Housing Committee will host a public hearing on LD 1559 on Friday, May 7 at 9:00 A.M. ET. You can view the hearing on the committee’s YouTube channel.

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Maine has a housing crisis on its hands. Bolstered by an influx of homebuyers from other states escaping major cities amidst the pandemic and driving up real estate prices, the supply of affordable housing is dwindling rapidly.

For those who are fortunate enough to own a home in Maine, these rising prices translate to increased property taxes. South Portland, for example, warned its residents that they could see a 30-50 percent increase in their property taxes as a result of changes to the region’s housing market. The regressive nature of property taxes means that two people in the same jurisdiction will pay the same amount in property tax, regardless of the income of the homeowner(s). With many people losing income as a result of the pandemic’s economic effects, hardworking Mainers are at risk of being driven out of their homes by these regressive taxes, and there is a very real possibility that they won’t be able to find another place to live.

Maine’s legislature is now actively working to provide vulnerable homeowners with property tax relief through a series of bills, including:

  • LD 576, “An Act To Increase Property Tax Relief For Veterans”: This bill, introduced by Senate President Troy Jackson in February, would raise the property tax exemption for senior and disabled veterans of federally-recognized war periods from $6,000 to $10,000 starting in 2022.

  • LD 1482, “An Act To Improve Access to Property Tax Exemptions for New Homeowners”: This bill would allow new home buyers in Maine to become eligible for the homestead property tax exemption as soon as they purchase their home.

  • LD 1514, “An Act To Provide for Fairness in Property Taxation by Assessing a One-time Tax on Financial Assets”: This bill increases funding for state-sponsored housing programs and municipal budgets using revenue from a one-time, 0.5% tax on financial assets over $5,000,000 for Maine’s wealthiest residents.

Mainers for Working Families strongly supports these measures to relieve the growing property tax burden in our state. Homeownership is a point of pride for many of Maine’s working families, and we must do everything we can to ensure every Mainer has continuing access to safe and affordable housing.

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