The following e-newsletter is a joint communication from the Maine Women’s Policy Center and our sister organization, the Maine Women’s Lobby.
We hoped we would be able to give you a final rundown of how the legislature wrapped up. Unfortunately, as we send this e-news out, we still do not have a state budget and a government shutdown is very likely. What we know is that while House Democrats, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to a compromise, opposition by most House Republicans kept the Maine House from reaching the two-thirds majority needed to pass an emergency measure to avoid a shutdown. Governor LePage has threatened to veto any budget that he disagrees with—and to take the full 10 days he is allowed under law before issuing that veto. The Governor is also said to be introducing a new budget. To give you a sense of where things stand, here’s a quick roundup of the news on the budget stalemate. We are extremely disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about what a government shutdown will mean for Maine. We’ll try to keep you updated on developments on social media.
OTHER UPDATES FROM THE LEGISLATURE
While the budget is taking up everyone’s attention, anti-abortion legislators still hope to pass LD 327—a fetal personhood bill that is part of a national effort to chip away at abortion rights. Even though this dangerous bill has already been defeated twice in the House, it passed in the Senate along party lines and, as of the writing of this e-news, it still faces another vote in the Senate.
Read more about how our right to safe, legal abortion is at risk in America in this piece (which also touches on the threats of fetal personhood legislation): This Is How Abortion Ends In America.
LD 1259 was vetoed by the Governor earlier today. This bill would address wage discrimination and pay inequity by preventing employers from seeking information about a prospective employee’s past salary before offering employment. When companies use prior pay to determine an employee’s current wages, pay discrimination of the past follows employees into their next jobs. It would also clarify that under Maine law we can discuss salary information with coworkers—because if you can’t discuss pay, you won’t know you are experiencing pay discrimination. We don’t yet know when the legislature will hold the vote to decide whether to override the Governor’s veto.
Now for some good news! LD 1237 became law earlier this month. This was an important bill because it protected certain parts if the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in Maine law—in particular it requires insurers to cover up to 12 months of birth control at a time, which gives women more control over their personal family planning. It became law without the Governor’s signature. Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators about this bill!
And in more good news, LD 366 died earlier this month. That bill was a so-called anti-sanctuary bill from Rep. Lawrence Lockman. It would have forced local law enforcement to act as immigration agents. It would have further eroded trust between police and the communities they serve and made Maine a less welcoming place for immigrants. Again, we thank those of you who spoke up about this legislation or turned out for the public hearing.
If you want to make sure that women and girls have a voice in the halls of the State House when bills like these are being decided, please consider making a donation to support our work today. You can make a one-time gift or spread your support across the year as a monthly donor.
Donate online at bit.ly/MWLdonate. Or mail a check to the Maine Women’s Lobby at 124 Sewall Street, Augusta, ME 04330.
IMPORTANT DATE CHANGE!!
Due to a scheduling error at the Civic Center, we have had to move our fall Summit to October 11th. Please update your calendar (and put it in if it isn’t already there) so that you can join us.
Maine Women’s Summit on Economic Security
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Augusta Civic Center
More details soon.
At a time when the courts are so important in defending our rights, two nominees have expressed open hostility rendering them unfit to serve on the federal bench. Attorney John K. Bush was nominated by Pres. Trump to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. For a decade, Bush hid behind a “secret” online identity to post extensive rants attacking people and positions with which he disagreed, often using crude language and insults. Learn more about this terrible nominee at in this fact sheet http://bit.ly/BushFactSheet and this full report: http://bit.ly/JohnKBush.
Pacific Legal Foundation Attorney Damien Schiff was nominated by Pres. Trump to serve on the Court of Federal Claims. He has a long history of incendiary statements, including his remark that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is a “judicial prostitute” – clearly lacking judicial temperament. His view of the role of judges is extreme, as he believes judges should actively pursue a goal of undoing decades of legal protections in place since the New Deal. Learn more about why Schiff should not be made a federal judge in this fact sheet: http://bit.ly/SchiffFacts and this full report: http://bit.ly/DamienSchiff.
We are urging Senators Collins and King to oppose these nominees. Instead of extremists, we need judges who are ideologically independent and from diverse professional and personal backgrounds who instill confidence in our judicial system and reflect the communities they serve.
The Supreme Court just wrapped up its term. Justice Gorsuch has already demonstrated his conservative viewpoint with recent decisions: Gorsuch starts to show his conservative cards. These two pieces share more about the Court’s decisions this term:
SCOTUS also decided to hear the travel ban case—that will happen in October. In the meantime, the Court also said that foreigners from the six countries covered by the ban with ties or relationships in the US would not be prohibited from entering the US. But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited while we wait for the case to be decided. That has been further complicated by the way the Trump administration is interpreting what constitutes as an allowed tie to the country. Learn more in these stories:
ACCESS TO QUALITY CHILD CARE
A recent article in the Bangor Daily News highlighted new rules proposed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that would put the welfare of Maine kids at risk. The rules would apply to family child care providers. Some of our concerns include weakening the child-to-staff member ratio, no longer giving parents the right to be informed of licensing deficiencies, and taking away parents’ right to visit during the day. The story also discusses an increased child care subsidy rate for those providers. And while we are glad to see a rate increase for family child care providers, all child care providers who accept low-income children with subsidies need an increase in their rate—especially since the majority of kids are actually enrolled in larger child care centers. Read the article: DHHS is paying more for child care — after saying it wasn’t allowed to. We testified against these rule changes when they were first proposed and we are continuing to stand against them.
You’re Unlikely To Be Able To Afford Child Care In the US, & Here’s Proof focuses on another challenge that parents face. As the piece explains: “Child care costs in the United States are astronomical. Most families can’t afford to put their kids in day care or preschool on their own. State-subsidized programs help ease the burden of costs for families who want nothing but the best for their children. When lawmakers make deep cuts to assistance programs, they’re telling their constituents that their well-being doesn’t matter.”
If you care about these types of issues and would like to help us work on them, let us know by contacting Victoria firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIGHTING FOR PAID LEAVE AND EARNED PAID SICK DAYS
LD 1587 would create a system for paid family medical leave in Maine. Workers need paid leave to be able to care for a new child; recover from an illness, surgery, or accident; receive needed treatment for cancer and other diseases; care for an ill or aging spouse or parent; or to help a child with a serious illness or condition. This bill is sponsored by the House Majority Leader Erin Herbig and was carried over to next year. If you have an interest in this bill or have a story about how paid leave could help your family let us know by contacting Victoria at email@example.com.
We are also working on a Portland ordinance that would help more workers earn paid sick days. Far too many workers can’t earn even one paid sick day to take time to get well, to see a doctor, or to care for a sick child. This is bad for the financial security of workers, hurts businesses with employee turnover, and harms the health of our communities. If you live and work in Portland and can’t earn paid sick days now, please share your story with us by firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE TERRIBLE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL
We are quickly running out of room in this month’s e-news, but we have to include some information about just how bad the health care bill being considered by the US Senate would be for women. While Senator Collins has said that she doesn’t support it in its current form, we need to continue to ask herto reject any bill that will make access to health care worse for Mainers. Here are some quick hits about why it is so bad:
The Senate health care bill erodes protections survivors of domestic, sexual violence need from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Repealing the Affordable Care Act Puts Maine’s Health Care and Economy at Risk: U.S. Senate Proposal Maintains Most Damaging Elements of House Republican Plan and Would Especially Hurt Older and Rural Mainers from Maine Center for Economic Policy
We’ll be sharing our final legislative update when everything is resolved, and we’ll share roll-calls for our legislative priorities later this summer, too. In the meantime, be sure to get our latest news by connecting with us on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for your support!