Legislation

An Act To Lower the Maine Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (LD 26)

This bill reduces motor vehicle excise tax mill rates by 10% each year beginning with 2018 registration years until the rates reach 50% of the current rates in 2022 and subsequent years.

Our Position: Support

Maine’s high motor vehicle excise taxes and car fees are a burden on many low-income households. By limiting transportation options for the poor, these taxes make it harder for them to find and keep a job, access child care and educational opportunities, and engage in their communities.

An Act To Reduce Penalties for Violations of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Laws (LD 29)

This bill revises the fines for a violation of the laws governing inspection of motor vehicles and removes imprisonment as a penalty.

Our Position: Support

While a concern for public safety should always be on legislators’ minds, Maine’s car inspection program is outdated and unnecessary. Drivers spend an estimated $16 million—and countless hours—getting their vehicles inspected each year, despite the absence of evidence that mandated inspections increase safety or reduce the number of accidents and injuries on our roads and highways. Reducing the costs of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle should be an important goal of policymakers seeking to alleviate poverty.

RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Require That Signatures on a Direct Initiative of Legislation Come from Each Congressional District (LD 31)

This resolution proposes to amend the Constitution of Maine to require that the signatures on a petition to directly initiate legislation be of voters from each of the State’s 2 congressional districts and that the number of signatures from each congressional district be not less than 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in that congressional district in the previous gubernatorial election. This resolution provides that, if the required votes are cast in favor of the proposed amendment to the Constitution, the proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution on March 1, 2018 instead of on the date of the Governor’s proclamation.

Our Position: Support

As Maine’s population has become more concentrated in southern and coastal areas over the last century, ballot measures have increasingly reflected the interests of urban populations. Petition gatherers often ignore whole counties when collecting signatures, to the detriment of rural areas. Half of the 24 states that have citizens’ initiatives laws have a geographic distribution requirement that signatures be gathered from multiple parts of the state, preventing petitioners from gathering signatures only in the most densely populated urban areas. These provisions ensure that all voters, not just those in urban areas, have a say in which proposals achieve ballot status.

An Act To Adjust the Lifetime Limit for the Receipt of TANF Benefits (LD 33)

This bill changes the lifetime limit for receiving benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from 60 months to 36 months.

Our Position: Support

For too long, Maine’s welfare programs have promoted government dependency instead of giving struggling families the help they need to become financially independent. Maine’s repeated expansion of eligibility criteria and lax work requirement standards have turned benefits designed to meet the needs of the truly needy into middle-class entitlements. Simply put, Maine’s welfare system is broken. Policymakers should also strengthen job search and work requirements, which have consistently been shown to boost long-term earnings of welfare recipients, shorten the amount of time spent on the rolls, and reduce the number of people dependent upon government.

An Act To Create a 9-month Time Limit on General Assistance Benefits for Certain Persons (LD 36)

This bill limits to a maximum of 275 days every 5 years the general assistance benefits a person who does not have any dependents and who is capable of working may receive.

Our Position: Support

Maine’s welfare programs have promoted government dependency instead of giving struggling families the help they need to become financially independent. Maine’s repeated expansion of eligibility criteria and lax work requirement standards have turned benefits designed to meet the needs of the truly needy into middle-class entitlements. 

An Act To Ensure the Right To Work without Payment of Dues or Fees to a Labor Union as a Condition of Employment (LD 65)

This bill prohibits a person, either in the public or private sector, from being required to join a labor organization or pay any labor organization dues or fees as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, notwithstanding any state law to the contrary. A violation is a Class D crime and is also subject to civil damages and injunctive relief. The Attorney General is responsible for enforcement and is required to prosecute all violations.

Our Position: Support

Under current law, an employee in Maine may be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, regardless of the employee’s desire to join the union or the benefits derived from the union’s activities. Based on data collected from other states, as many as 7,400 workers in Maine may choose to stop paying union dues if given the opportunity.

An Act To Prohibit Public Employers from Acting as Collection Agents for Labor Unions (LD 66)

Current law allows a public employer to deduct service fees owed by an employee to a collective bargaining agent pursuant to a lawful collective bargaining agreement. This bill prohibits a public employer from collecting those fees or collecting member dues.

This bill also eliminates language from the election statutes allowing a public employer to deduct dues or other funds from an employee’s pay and remit those funds to the employee’s collective bargaining agent.

Our Position: Support

Automatic dues deduction— in which public employers collect dues payments directly from employees’ paychecks and pass them on to the union—is another provision that is commonly found in public collective bargaining agreements in Maine. These arrangements use taxpayer-funded resources to the exclusive benefits of unions. Legislators should require unions to use their own resources to collect dues from their members, not taxpayer’s money.

An Act To Allow Sunday Hunting by Landowners and Those with Landowner Permission (LD 109)

This bill allows hunting on Sundays on private property with the permission of the landowner.

Our Position: Support

Maine is one of only three states that impose complete bans on Sunday hunting. The vast majority of states have never had such a restriction. The refusal of legislators to allow Sunday hunting has hurt Maine’s economy and hindered small business growth, especially in rural regions of the state. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “The benefits of Sunday hunting extend well beyond the sportsmen’s community……..it would create an estimated 1,800 new Maine jobs that would pay more than $45 million in wages and contribute more than $133 million in additional economic activity to the state.”

An Act To Establish New Monetary Caps for Legislative Candidates under the Maine Clean Election Act (LD 126)

This bill decreases by 1/3 the amount of the distribution from the Maine Clean Election Fund a participating candidate running for State Senator or State Representative may receive under the Maine Clean Election Act.

Our Position: Support

Since the passage of MCEA, at least $25 million in taxpayer money has been spent on taxpayer-funded political campaigns. Mainers are supporting a system that has failed to increase electoral competitiveness or diversify the Legislature. Despite the MCEA’s stated goals, negativity in campaigns and special interest money have never been more widespread in Maine politics. Any proposed legislation that curtails the amount of taxpayer funds spent on campaigns, short of a full repeal of the M.C.E.A., we support.

An Act To Reform Maine’s Motor Vehicle Inspection Guidelines (LD 154)

This bill provides that a motor vehicle may not fail its annual inspection for aesthetic reasons or for minor mechanical defects. A vehicle may fail the inspection only for defects that reasonably affect the safety of the vehicle.

Our Position: Support

While a concern for public safety should always be on legislators’ minds, Maine’s car inspection program is outdated and unnecessary. Drivers spend an estimated $16 million—and countless hours—getting their vehicles inspected each year, despite the absence of evidence that mandated inspections increase safety or reduce the number of accidents and injuries on our roads and highways. Reducing the costs of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle should be an important goal of policymakers seeking to alleviate poverty. Sixteen states have repealed their inspection programs over the last few decades. Maine passed its vehicle inspection law in 1930. Based on the evidence today, it is clear that the car inspection program constitutes a burdensome regulation that disproportionately impacts the poor.

An Act To Prioritize Use of Available Resources in General Assistance Programs (LD 219)

This bill makes an applicant for general assistance who voluntarily abandons or refuses to use an available resource without just cause ineligible to receive general assistance to replace the abandoned or refused resource for a period of 120 days from the date the applicant abandons or refuses the resource. The bill defines “available resource” as a resource that is immediately available or can be secured without delay. The bill also makes an applicant who forfeits an available resource due to fraud, misrepresentation or intentional violation or refusal to comply with rules without just cause ineligible to receive general assistance to replace the forfeited resource for the duration of the sanction imposed on the applicant for violation of a rule or 120 days, whichever is greater. The bill identifies circumstances relating to use of an available resource under which just cause must be found.

Our Position: Support

Maine’s welfare programs have promoted government dependency instead of giving struggling families the help they need to become financially independent. Maine’s repeated expansion of eligibility criteria and lax work requirement standards have turned benefits designed to meet the needs of the truly needy into middle-class entitlements. Policymakers should also strengthen job search and work requirements, which have consistently been shown to boost long-term earnings of welfare recipients, shorten the amount of time spent on the rolls, and reduce the number of people dependent upon government.

An Act To Align Time Limits in the Municipal General Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (LD 220)

This bill provides that a person who has exhausted the 60-month lifetime limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program benefits is ineligible to receive municipal general assistance program benefits except that a person who has been ineligible to receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for 5 or more years may be considered eligible and a person who is in the process of seeking an extension of benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program may be considered eligible.

Our Position: Support

Policymakers should strengthen job search and work requirements, which have consistently been shown to boost long-term earnings of welfare recipients, shorten the amount of time spent on the rolls, and reduce the number of people dependent upon government. Maine should use what are known as “diversion programs.” These programs are intended to deter welfare applicants from entering the system in the first place by providing lump sum payments to the needy as a way of assisting them with short-term financial problems—such as costly car repairs—that do not require full enrollment in the welfare system.

Maine’s Alternative Aid program could be described as a diversion program, but its design is flawed. Those who qualify can get the equivalent of three months of TANF cash assistance each and every year without any work requirements and without jeopardizing any other benefit such as food stamps.  Maine’s Alternative Aid program stands in stark contrast to Georgia’s diversion strategy. In DeKalb County, Georgia, for instance, “applicants are required to attend an orientation, develop a TANF Family Service Plan based on a comprehensive assessment and, for those deemed ready for work, complete an up-front job search period as a condition of program eligibility.”

The program’s intake meeting explores the applicant’s job skills, work interests, educational attainment, and personal and family challenges. Applicants considered work-ready “participate in a four-week structured job search program for 40 hours per week,” which includes “a series of workshops and group job search sessions to prepare for employment,” as well as time spent “contacting employers, completing resumes, and participating in job interviews.”

Georgia’s diversion program is remarkably successful. Out of every 100 TANF applicants, “25 to 50 percent complete the program and receive TANF,” with the remainder either finding employment or dropping out of the application process.

An Act To Protect and Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine (LD 226)

This bill authorizes the State to accept federal funds to provide health insurance coverage to adults with incomes equal to or below 133% plus 5% of the nonfarm income official federal poverty line for the applicable family size. Persons with incomes equal to or below 100% of the nonfarm income official poverty line receive coverage through the MaineCare program. The Commissioner of Health and Human Services is authorized to seek approval to provide that persons with income levels over 100% of the federal poverty line and up to 133% of the federal poverty line may receive coverage from a private health insurance plan or other mechanisms. In the event that the commissioner uses this authority, any funds made available from unexpended state matching funds must be used to help ensure that those persons with income levels between 100% and 133% of the federal poverty line receive affordable and comprehensive health coverage.

The bill provides for measures to be taken in the event that federal funding, as established under federal law, is reduced, so that the Legislature may act promptly to address the consequences of this action. The bill also authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to contract with health insurance plans to provide coverage in order to maximize savings and to ensure access to and quality of services.

The bill sets forth time standards for the start of the expansion of health care coverage, for submission of requests to obtain necessary federal approvals and for ongoing reporting to the Legislature during the start-up phase of this expansion. Further reporting is required on the status of any savings generated to state-funded programs as a result of this expansion. It requires the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Maine Revenue Services to report no later than 60 days following the end of the first 12 months of enrollment under the expansion on revenues generated as a result of expanded coverage. It requires that savings and revenues be verified by the Office of Fiscal and Program Review within 90 days after the end of the first 12 months of enrollment under the expansion. It transfers any savings to the MaineCare Stabilization Fund prior to the next fiscal year. It requires the Office of Fiscal and Program Review to report its findings to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters and to the joint standing committee having jurisdiction over appropriations and financial affairs.

The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to apply for and accept private foundation grants to be used to cover the cost of preparing and submitting any waivers and state plan amendments to the Federal Government required as a result of expanding health care coverage.

Our Position: Oppose

Spending on MaineCare—Maine’s Medicaid program—has ballooned since 2003, when substantial expansions of the program drove enrollment and expenditures to unprecedented levels. Despite efforts in recent years to stabilize MaineCare spending, it continues to account for an unacceptably large portion of the state budget. In 2015, MaineCare spending reached $974 million, compared to $794 million in 2009. Reforms must be made to reduce spending and focus resources on Maine’s most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and the disabled. Maine has already experienced the disastrous fiscal consequences of expanding MaineCare coverage to childless, able-bodied adults. When Maine expanded coverage in 2001 and again in 2003, MaineCare quickly experienced annual shortfalls of $50 million to more than $100 million. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that MaineCare expansion would cost taxpayers approximately $315 million over the next five years, forcing deep spending cuts elsewhere or significant tax increases. We oppose any expansion of Maine Care.

An Act To Maintain the Income Tax Rate on Persons with Taxable Income above $200,000 (LD 291)

This bill decreases the rate of tax imposed on the income of resident individuals on income in excess of $200,000 from 7.15% to 4.15%.

Our Position: Support

The ‘Question 2’ tax hike would decrease private sector jobs by 3,970 in the first year, rising to 4,050 in 2021. According to the latest IRS data, 50 percent of pass-through business income in Maine was reported on returns that earned more than $200,000. As a result, half of pass-through business income in Maine is currently taxed at the top marginal rate of 7.15 percent, and would be subject to the much higher rate of 10.15 percent now that ‘Question 2’ passed. In addition, 27 percent of Mainers earning more than $200,000 report having income from a sole proprietorship, while 41 percent derive income from a partnership or S-corporation. ‘Question 2’ would amount to a significant tax hike on the types of small businesses that generate the majority of Maine’s private-sector jobs; this is a clear recipe for declines in employment and slow business growth as entrepreneurs are deterred from opening businesses in Maine. Any proposed legislation that lowers the tax increase from ‘Question 2’, short of a full repeal, we support.

An Act To Preserve Funding for the Maine Clean Election Act by Removing Gubernatorial Candidates from Eligibility (LD 300)

This bill eliminates Maine Clean Election Act funding for gubernatorial candidates.

Our Position: Support

As policymakers have chased the illusory and unattainable goal of “clean” elections, beyond the reach of wealthy corporate donors or billionaire backers, it has become clear that these efforts are costing Maine taxpayers millions of dollars without improving the competitiveness or transparency of elections. Since the passage of MCEA, at least $25 million in taxpayer money has been spent on taxpayer-funded political campaigns. Mainers are supporting a system that has failed to increase electoral competitiveness. Despite the MCEA’s stated goals, negativity in campaigns and special interest money have never been more widespread in Maine politics.

An Act To Protect Jobs and the Maine Economy by Eliminating the 3% Income Tax Surcharge Imposed on Certain Mainers and the Fund To Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education (LD 337)

This bill repeals the provisions establishing the Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten 6 to Grade 12 Education and the income tax surcharge of 3% imposed on taxable income of $200,000 or more, which is the source of revenue for the fund.

Our Position: Supports

This a full repeal of the 2016 Question 2 Ballot Initiative. Click here to read the ballot question. Click here to read the MHPC analysis of the economic impact of the question.

An Act To Establish Universal Health Care for Maine (LD 386)

This bill proposes to establish a single-payor, universal health care system in the State. Portions of the system will be based on the single-payor system in place in Vermont and the single-payor proposals submitted previously in Maine and Colorado. The single-payor system proposed in this bill will also be responsive to any changes made on the federal level to the federal Affordable Care Act.

Our Position: Oppose

A single-payor healthcare system, would undermine the progress Maine has made toward a free-market oriented healthcare system. It would hurt patients, providers, and taxpayers by making medical services more expensive and less efficient.

An Act To Encourage Maine Consumers To Comparison-shop for Certain Health Care Procedures and To Lower Health Care Costs (LD 445)

This bill requires all carriers offering health plans in the State, beginning January 1, 2018, to provide a shared savings incentive program as a component of all health plans, except health plans offered through the federally facilitated marketplace established pursuant to the federal Affordable Care Act. The bill establishes the shared savings incentive program for enrollees who elect to receive a comparable health care service that costs less than the average price paid for that service by a carrier. The bill defines “comparable health care service” as a service for which a carrier offers a shared savings incentive payment and includes, at a minimum, a health care service in the following 7 categories: physical and occupational therapy services; obstetrical and gynecological services; radiology and imaging services; laboratory services; infusion therapy services; inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures; and outpatient, nonsurgical diagnostic tests and procedures. If an enrollee shops for services, the bill requires a carrier to pay that enrollee a shared savings incentive payment of at least 50% of the difference between the average amount for that comparable health care service and the amount paid, except that a payment is not required if the saved cost is $50 or less. The bill authorizes a carrier to establish its own methodology for calculating the average price paid by that carrier under its shared savings incentive program. If an enrollee elects to receive health care services from an out-of-network provider that results in a shared savings incentive payment, a carrier shall apply the amount paid for the comparable health care service toward the enrollee’s cost sharing as specified in the enrollee’s health plan as if the health care services were provided by a network provider. The bill also requires carriers to provide certain information to the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Bureau of Insurance on an annual basis relating to the payments made to enrollees, the use of health care services for which payments are provided and the saved costs if an enrollee elects to receive health care services from a provider that cost less than the average cost for a particular admission, procedure or service. The Superintendent of Insurance is required to report aggregate information from all carriers to the Legislature on an annual basis. This bill also requires providers to notify patients of their right to shop for certain health care services pursuant to a carrier’s shared savings incentive program.

Our Position: Supports

This bill harnesses transparency tools and market incentives to help patients shop for affordable, high quality healthcare.

An Act To Prevent Long-term Welfare Dependency (LD 477)

This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt rules requiring unemployed applicants for alternative aid who are seeking employment to participate in job search activities that are consistent with the job search activities for participants of the ASPIRE-TANF program.

Our Position: Supports

Maine’s welfare programs should offer a hand up, not a hand out. Aligning work requirements that are already in place with TANF for the Alternative Aid program moves us closer to that goal.

An Act To Prioritize Access by Maine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens to Welfare Resources (LD 480)

This bill accomplishes the following. 1. It repeals the provision that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a food supplement program for noncitizens who are ineligible for benefits under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. 2. It repeals the provision that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to provide supplemental security income for noncitizens who are ineligible for benefits under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. 3. It repeals the provision that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to provide financial assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to noncitizens who are ineligible for benefits under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Our Position: Supports

As Maine’s welfare costs have surged, our limited welfare resources, provided by Maine taxpayers, should be focused on the state’s most needy citizens. By bringing us closer to federal standards, this bill will move us toward more responsible fiscal management.

An Act To Repeal the Maine Certificate of Need Act of 2002 (LD 482)

Under current law, before introducing additional health care services and procedures 37 in a market area, a person must apply for and receive a certificate of need from the 38 Department of Health and Human Services. This bill eliminates that requirement.

Our Position: Supports

Despite its well meaning intentions, Certificate of Need is a failed program. Repeal of the Certificate of Need Act would promote competition and lower prices in Maine’s healthcare industry.

An Act To Remove the 100-megawatt Limit on Hydroelectric Generators under the Renewable Resources Laws (LD 532)

This bill removes the 100-megawatt maximum capacity limit for a hydroelectric generator that meets all state and federal fish passage requirements applicable to generators to qualify as a renewable capacity resource and for a hydroelectric generator to qualify as a renewable resource for the purpose of meeting the State’s renewable resource portfolio requirement.

Our Position: Supports

If Maine truly wants to promote growth in the renewable energy sector, capping clean hydroelectric power doesn’t make any sense. Restricting some renewable energy resources and not others stifles competition and raises electricity rates.

An Act To Require Biennial State Motor Vehicle Inspections (LD 623)

This bill changes noncommercial automobile inspection requirements from an annual inspection to a biennial inspection.

Our Position: Supports

Following in the footsteps of many other states, Maine should reduce the burden on motorists, particularly in low income households, and reform this outdated and onerous program.

An Act To Improve Access to Cost-effective Health Care Services (LD 666)

This bill requires health insurance carriers to apply the amount paid for a health care service provided by an out-of-network provider toward the enrollee’s member cost sharing as specified in the enrollee’s health plan as if the health care services were provided by a network provider if the cost of the out-of-network service is the same or less than the statewide average payment for the same service based on data reported on the publicly accessible health care costs website of the Maine Health Data Organization.

Our Position: Supports

This common sense reform would remove barriers to healthcare access for Mainers, while incentivizing patients to take advantage of cost-effective healthcare.