By Fatima Saidi

Legislative round-up
As the first special session of the 130th Legislature comes to a close, we reflect on MIRC’s policy priorities and our political advocacy. As always, MIRC prioritized the top issues facing the immigrant community and enhancing the well-being of the immigrant and refugee communities. This session, our policy platform mostly surrounded COVID-19 emergency response and support.

The legislation we supported focused on the racial and ethnic disparities reflected in COVID-19 cases and in vaccine access and distribution.

Other top issues were community-led needs assessments, BIPOC community investment, contract/grant support for ethnic-based organizations, and digital equity.

We promoted legislation that provides housing assistance, healthcare, childcare, and access to MaineCare. Additionally, our policy platform focused on workforce development, adult education, credentialing and licensing fairness, English language classes, and translation and interpretation services.

Throughout this pandemic, we have seen time and again the structural and institutional barriers that deprive our communities of equitable access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, and more. This session, we pushed to begin to break down these barriers through systemic change in Maine state law.

Below are just some of the pieces of legislation that we supported in the first special session:

Legal and Racial Equity
• LD 132: “An Act To Implement the Attorney General’s Recommendations on Data Collection in Order To Eliminate Profiling in Maine” (Sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross)
• LD 2: “An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process” (Sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross)
• LD 1034: “An Act Regarding the Permanent Commission (Sponsor: The Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations) (Sponsored by Representative Rachel Talbot Ross)
• LD 1329: “An Act To Establish the Career Advancement and Navigation Initiative in the Department of Education To Lower Barriers to Career Advancement” (Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross)
• LD 1167: “An Act Relating to Fair Chance in Employment” (Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross)

Work Development
• LD 1684: “An Act to Strengthen Maine’s Workforce by Expanding English Language Acquisition and Workforce Training Programs” (Rep. Kristin Cloutier)
• LD 149: “An Act to Facilitate Licensure for Credentialed Individuals Other Jurisdictions” (Rep. Kristin Cloutier)

Benefits: Healthcare, Housing, General Assistance
• LD 718: “An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Residents By Closing Coverage Gaps in MaineCare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program” (Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross)
• LD 473 “An Act To Create the Maine Rental Assistance and Voucher Guarantee Program” (Rep. Kristin Cloutier)
• LD 211: “An Act to Support Emergency Shelter Access for Persons Experiencing Homelessness” (Rep. Kristin Cloutier)
• LD 372: “An Act to Provide Maine Children with Access to Affordable Health Care” (Sen. Ann Carney)
• LD 1533: “An Act to Amend the Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program”* (Rep. Kristin Cloutier)