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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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Seventy-eight percent of Mainers live paycheck to paycheck. Too many people are working longer days and longer hours due to mounting costs and stagnant wages, preventing them from enjoying the quality of life they deserve.

To uplift working Mainers, Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland has introduced LD 1376: An Act to Create a Livable Wage by Increasing the Minimum Hourly Wage. This bill aims to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour starting January 1, 2024, with a $1 increase every year thereafter.

If LD 1376 were to pass, Maine would be the fourth state—along with Massachusetts, California, and Washington—to have a minimum hourly wage of $15 or higher. Furthermore, it would be the first time since 2009 that Maine has increased the minimum wage. The current state minimum wage is $13.80 per hour, which was approved by a voter-led initiative seven years ago.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour will help Mainers keep up with costs of living, healthcare, and education. It will put money in their pockets and strengthen the state’s economy. Maine’s working families deserve a chance to thrive and get ahead. Now that the Legislature has given LD 1376 a preliminary approval, we urge Governor Mills to pass this bill to help tens of thousands of Maine families!

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