Welcome to our Legislative Watch. These are bills before the Maine State Legislature that may directly or disproportionately impact immigrants and asylum seekers, people of color, and women. We will post summaries and update the status and the important dates relating to these bills that may become new Maine laws or amend current Maine laws. The information below is summarized from legislature.maine.gov where anyone can look up a bill by name or number. If you know about other legislative actions that should be listed here, please contact us: [email protected].

Public Hearings that are happening soon:

  April 3, 2019, 1:00 PM, Cross Building, Room 202

LD 1077: “An Act To Ensure Fair Employment Opportunity for Maine Citizens and Legal Residents by Requiring the Use of the Federal Immigration Verification System” Sponsored by Representative John DeVeau

  • March 5, 2019: Referred to Committee on Labor and Housing. Not Reported Out.

Summary: This bill requires an employer to register with and use the federal immigration verification system, currently known as the E-Verify program, to determine the work eligibility status of new employees physically performing services within the State.

  •  April 12, 2019, 9:00 AM, Cross Building, Room 209

LD 1317: “An Act To Restore Services To Help Certain Noncitizens Meet Their Basic Needs”

  • March 19, 2019: Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services.

Summary: This bill removes limitations on food supplement program benefits and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program benefits, provides MaineCare coverage and modifies language for state-funded supplemental security income to maintain consistency throughout the law for certain noncitizens who are lawfully present in the United States or pursuing a lawful process to apply for immigration relief.

Maine Equal Justice Partners (mejp.org) provided this summary of the bill: “LD1317 is a bill in the Maine Legislature that will restore access to these anti-poverty programs for immigrants who were unfairly barred. This will result in a more equitable safety net that does not discriminate against people based on race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin. At a time when immigrants seeking freedom and opportunities in our country have been treated cruelly elsewhere, in Maine we can take steps to treat our immigrant neighbors with the same dignity we afford our other friends and neighbors – the same dignity and compassion we all deserve to be treated with when we fall on hard times.”

Other bills we’re tracking

LD 278: “An Act Regarding Pay Equality Screen reader support enabled” Sponsored by Senator Catherine Breen

  • Jan 22, 2019: Referred to the Committee on Labor and Housing
  • Mar 28, 2019: Latest Committee Report – Majority: Ought To Pass As Amended, Minority: Ought Not To Pass

Summary: This bill amends the Maine Human Rights Act to provide that evidence of discrimination with respect to compensation includes an employer seeking information about a prospective employee’s prior wage history before an offer of employment, including all compensation, to the prospective employee has been made. It provides that this discrimination is also evidenced by an employer requiring that a prospective employee’s prior compensation history meet certain criteria. The bill broadens a provision in the current equal pay law to prohibit an employer from preventing employees from discussing or disclosing other employees’ wages and makes the practice a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act as well.

LD 369: “An Act to Support Healthy Workplaces and Healthy Families by Providing Earned Paid Sick Leave to Certain Employees” Sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett

  • Jan 24, 2019: Referred to the Committee on Labor and Housing
  • Mar 6, 2019: Work Session Held, Voted, Divided Report
  • Mar 27, 2019 Work Session Reconsidered, Voted, Divided Report

Summary: This bill creates a right to earned paid sick leave for employees who are employed by an employer that employs more than 5 employees. The bill also creates a right to earned unpaid sick leave for employees of an employer that employs 5 or fewer employees. This bill takes effect January 1, 2021.

 LD 532: “Resolve, Directing Professional Licensing and Certification Boards To Study the Barriers To Obtaining Professional Licensure and Certification” Sponsored by Representative Victoria Morales

  • Jan 31, 2019: Referred to the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business
  • Feb 19, 2019: Public Hearings held
  • Latest Committee Report: Not Reported Out

Summary: This resolve directs each professional licensing and certification board under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 32, in consultation with the Department of the Attorney General, to undertake a thorough review of its rules and procedures and survey its licensees and certificate holders and applicants for licensure or certification to research barriers to obtaining licensure and certification, including existing deficiencies in reciprocity provisions. Each board is directed to submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business by January 15, 2020 with its findings and any proposed changes to its rules and procedures. The joint standing committee is directed to review and suggest alterations to the licensing and certification boards, which may submit rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375. The joint standing committee is authorized to submit legislation related to any report under this section to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature.

LD 647: “An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New State Residents To Strengthen the Workforce” – Sponsored by Representative Kristen Cloutie

  • Feb26, 2019: House referred the bill to the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business. Sent for concurrence.
  • Mar 28, 2019: In Senate as Unfinished Business.

Summary: This bill creates various programs to provide education, services and training for the State’s workforce immigrant populations in the following ways:

  1. It establishes the Welcome Center Initiative to operate welcome centers in adult education programs to provide education, services and training for foreign-trained workers in municipalities or regions of the State that have immigrant populations or that have industries that are experiencing a shortage of trained workers, patterned after the New Mainers Resource Center operated by the City of Portland adult education program through a pilot program created by the 126th Legislature. The bill provides funds for grants for proposed welcome centers;
  2. It directs the Department of Education’s office of adult education and family literacy to:
    1. Administer a vocation-specific English language acquisition and workforce training program for immigrants in the State and establish a statewide competitive grant process to carry out the purposes of the program;
    2. Establish and implement a local community planning support program to provide a planning process for communities to provide English language acquisition and training in vocational skills, identify employers or areas that would benefit from immigrant residency or employment and cultivate community support to integrate immigrants into the communities and local workforce. The office must establish a grant process to carry out the purposes of the program; and
    3. Develop and implement a grant process to award grants to adult education programs to increase English language acquisition instruction.

The bill provides funding for the vocation-specific English language acquisition and workforce training program, the local community planning support program and grants to increase English language acquisition instruction; and

  1. It directs the Department of Education to establish a welcome center under the Welcome Center Initiative within the City of Lewiston’s adult education program to attract, educate and retain in employment foreign-trained workers, patterned after the New Mainers Resource Center in Portland, and provides funding for that purpose. It also provides ongoing funding for the New Mainers Resource Center in Portland.

LD 718: “An Act To Increase Funding for Adult Basic Literacy, Workplace Education and College Preparedness” Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross

  • Feb 12, 2019: House referred the bill to the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.
  • Feb 14, 2019: Senate referred the bill to the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.
  • Latest Committee Report: Not Reported Out
  • No public hearings or work sessions have been listed for this bill.

Summary: This bill provides an increase in funding for the adult education subsidy to local school units that operate adult education programs. It also provides targeted funds to improve the capacity of local adult education programs to meet students’ academic and work readiness and training needs.

LD 768: “Resolve, To Establish the Commission To Research the Economic Disparities of Racial and Ethnic Populations” (Emergency) Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross

  • Feb 12, 2019: House and Senate referred the bill to the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business
  • Mar 14, 2019: Voted ONTP (Ought Not To Pass)

Summary: This resolve establishes the Commission To Research the Economic Disparities of Racial and Ethnic Populations.

LD 769: “Resolve, To Direct the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation To Create a Working Group To Study Credentialing Skilled Individuals with Foreign Credentials” Sponsored by Representative Denise Tepler

  • Feb 12, 2019: Referred to the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business.
  • Mar 14, 2019: Work Session Held. Tabled.

Summary: This resolve directs the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation to create a working group to study credentialing skilled individuals with foreign credentials in the State. The working group consists of 8 to 10 members representing licensing boards and professional organizations served by the licensing boards in professions for which there is a need for and an opportunity to credential skilled individuals with foreign credentials. The working group is required to submit its report along with any recommendations and suggested legislation to the Governor and the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation. The commissioner is required to submit the report with any recommendations and suggested legislation to the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing. The committee is permitted to report out a bill relating to the subject matter of the report to the First Regular Session of the 130th Legislature.

LD 857 An Act To Increase Accountability for Wage Violations

  • Feb 14, 2019: Referred to Committee on Labor and Housing
  • Mar 20, 2019: Work Session Held, Voted – Divided Report
  • Latest Committee Report: Not Reported Out

Summary: This bill amends the law regarding employment practices by increasing the fine for a violation of certain state wage and benefits laws to $500 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation and by providing a private right of action for a person aggrieved of such a violation. It amends the law regarding employees’ remedies to provide that in a judgment for an employee an additional amount of 3 times the unpaid wages must be awarded the employee. It also provides ongoing funds for 10 labor and safety inspector positions within the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards, wage and hour division beginning October 1, 2019.

Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (maineimmigrantrights.org) opposes the following:

LD 186: “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Specify the Qualifications of Electors” Sponsored by Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham

  • Jan 17, 2019: Referred to the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs
  • Latest Committee Report: Not Reported Out

Summary: This resolution proposes to amend the Constitution of Maine to specify that only a person who is a citizen of the United States may vote in a state, county or municipal or other local election.

LR 1700 “An Act To Facilitate Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities”

  • This bill is not yet being considered, so information about it is not searchable.

We are looking at a few more bills that have not yet been considered by the legislature that concern at-risk youth, paid family and medical leave, and state and local compliance with Federal immigration law.