Highlights of Maine’s 2022 Legislative Session
Maine’s legislature has been hard at work to provide quality healthcare, affordable housing, a more equitable tax system, and a strong, secure election system.
Thank you! Mainers for Working Families applauds the strides our representatives have made this past legislative session to improve the lives of working Mainers across the state. Read on to see some of the highlights, and learn what’s still needed to get us back on our feet. Click here to see how your elected officials voted on important issues impacting working Mainers.
Ending the Dark Stores Loophole: Our leaders took on big box stores that shift their property tax burden onto local municipalities. The Maine Legislature passed LD 1129 to stop corporations like Walmart from exploiting what is known as the dark store assessment. That loophole allows corporations to lower their assessed property value and short-change the municipalities that house their big box stores. This new legislation effectively blocks them from evading their fair share of taxes.
Closing Tax Havens: Lawmakers also passed legislation to ensure that corporations do not manipulate the tax system to avoid paying their fair share of income tax. Representative Denise Tepler introduced LD 428 – An Act To Prevent Tax Haven Abuse – and worked with lawmakers to pass an amended version, which directs the Maine Revenue Service to review the impact of taxing income from jurisdictions outside the US and submit a report to the legislature. That report would then be used to draft legislation to close the tax haven loophole.
Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit: Lawmakers took decisive action to lessen the financial strain on many low-income Mainers and their families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Our leaders took action to ensure that working families are supported amid the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cost of living, and rising inflation. Expanding the EITC will give families in poverty more leeway to pay their bills and cover other basic living expenses.
Combatting the Housing Crisis:
This past session, House Speaker Fecteau worked with other lawmakers to address Maine’s housing crisis. Speaker Fecteau proposed LD 2003, a critical bill that deals with the many obstacles presented by zoning laws – many of which slow down the building process. Governor Mills signed the legislation into law, setting the stage for increased housing opportunities across the state in the near future.
Addressing Housing Disparities: Senator Craig Hickman sponsored LD 1961 – An Act To Help Alleviate Maine's Housing Shortage and Change the Membership of the Maine State Housing Authority – which, as enacted, addresses significant disparities in housing needs and promotes economic diversity in housing access throughout the state.
Investigating Barriers to Affordable Care: Healthcare was a major priority for the Legislature this session, beginning with addressing disparities in the health insurance system and possible solutions to obtain healthcare regardless of ability to pay. Introduced by Rep. Dr. Richard Evans, LD 1778 directs the Office of Affordable Health to study barriers to affordable healthcare and ways to expand coverage for families and small businesses.
Providing Easy Enrollment:
Also introduced by Rep. Evans, LD 1390 helps the state identify people without health insurance who may be eligible for MaineCare or a health plan in the Maine Health Insurance Marketplace (CoverME) by asking about health insurance status on state income tax forms. The Department of Health and Human Services and CoverME then contact uninsured individuals and families and help them to enroll in an affordable health insurance program.
Funding Paid Family and Medical Leave: As part of the 2022-2023 budget, the Legislature allocated additional funding to support the Commission to Develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program. This funding will assist the commission in crafting policy recommendations for a statewide paid leave system to be enacted by the Legislature.
Securing Maine’s Elections:
Across the country, claims of “election fraud” sowed distrust in our electoral system. LD 1779 strengthens our elections and protects voters by requiring that municipal clerks keep ballots in sealed containers, moving them only with permission from the Secretary of State. If for any reason ballots need to be inspected, they must remain in the sole custody of the inspector, and the inspection must be supervised by a public official.
Thanks to our leaders in Augusta, Maine’s equitable economic recovery from the pandemic is moving in the right direction. However, there is still more work to be done to reduce health care costs, establish a Paid Family and Medical Leave program, and more. We applaud Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature for working to meet the needs of our working families.