126th Legislature’s Actions are Now Law

Dear Friends,

As of August 1st, all bills passed by the 126th Maine Legislature are now law. Below you will find a brief overview of some of our accomplishments. I hope you find this information useful.

Maine House Democrats 2014
I was honored to lead this group of legislators and staff for the past two years.

All the best,

Seth
A responsible, bipartisan budget

The 126th Legislature passed a responsible bipartisan budget in the first regular session. It prevented massive property tax hikes that would have resulted from the governor’s plan to shift more than $400 million in costs to local communities.

This two-year budget passed by the Legislature also averted a state government shutdown and restored $37 million in funding to Maine’s public schools. It ensured that seniors and Mainers with disabilities could pay for their health care and medicine. It supported early education and job training efforts.

This year, the Legislature faced the unprecedented situation of having to develop a budget without a proposal from the governor. This supplemental budget for the upcoming fiscal year protects our most vulnerable, pays our bills and invests in our future. It promotes early childhood education, college readiness and workforce training. It also reduces wait lists for Mainers with disabilities who need home care services and supports nursing homes that serve low-income, elderly Mainers.

 

Honoring the state’s funding promise to communities

The 126th Legislature recognized that revenue sharing supports vital services like schools, road maintenance and first responders while keeping property taxes in check. These funds for local communities faced possible elimination and cuts from the governor.

Lawmakers in the first session restored the bulk of revenue sharing, averting a shift of enormous expenses onto local property taxpayers and the middle class. This year, legislators kept the state’s commitment to local communities by delivering $40 million in promised revenue sharing funds.

The Legislature also doubled the Property Tax Fairness Credit. The credit will be $600 for low- and middle-
income residents under the age of 65 and $900 for filers 65 and older. More renters will be eligible for the credit.

Here are some additional legislative highlights. The measures below were passed by the Legislature. As of August 1st, all are now law.

 

Jobs and the Economy

• Addressed the skills gap – the mismatch between the current skills of the workforce and those needed by employers – through first-of-its-kind legislation supported by business, education and labor communities.

• Developed a comprehensive bond package that voters approved last year to create jobs, inject money into the economy and invest in roads, working waterfronts, higher education and National Guard armories.

• Created bond proposals for the November ballot to promote small business growth and job creation, boost high-tech innovation and invest in clean water infrastructure.

 

Preparing young Mainers for success

• Restored funding for public schools and supported Head Start, the Bridge Year college readiness program and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates.

• Supported voluntary pre-kindergarten programs with start-up funding and increased access quality child care;

• Provided hungry students with meals during summer vacations.

• Trained school employees to recognized the warning signs of youth suicide.

 

Supporting veterans

• Granted all veterans in-state tuition rates at Maine’s public universities and community colleges.

• Ensured that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans can access a modest property tax exemption that veterans of earlier conflicts already receive.

• Expedited the professional licensing process for service members and veterans.

• Funded rides to medical appointments for veterans, increased outreach to homeless veterans and added veteran service officers at the Veterans Administration Hospital.

• Provided financial support for the Veterans Treatment Court in Kennebec County and pave the way for expansion to other parts of Maine.

 

Public safety and health

• Protected domestic violence victims with changes to the bail system and by keeping contact information confidential.

• Allowed first responders to carry naloxone, a life-saving drug overdose reversal medication.

• Held the worst drunk drivers on our roads more accountable.

• Protected vulnerable Mainers, including the elderly with dementia, from financial exploitation.

• Banned the toxic chemical BPA from formula cans and jar lids.