The League is fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organizations’ current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy.
Here at the League, we stand with Wabanaki communities and their claim to tribal sovereignty. LD 1626 was originally introduced last year but was carried over into 2022. We supported and testified in support of this bill, with attention to protecting the voting rights of tribal members.
In 2020, the League supported LD 2094, which would increase tribal sovereignty and give Maine’s tribes equal status with other federally recognized tribes. A vote was postponed due to the early adjournment of the 129th Legislature.
In the 130th legislature, the League joined the Wabanaki Alliance — a coalition of over 90 non-profit, faith-based, and racial and social justice organizations — working to pass LD 1626, a renewal of the prior year’s efforts. Two hundred thirty-four League members and volunteers submitted written testimony in favor of LD 1626, the successor of LD 2094 from the 129th Legislature. LD 1626 did pass in the House and Senate but died on the Special Appropriations Table at the end of the legislative session. The League of Women Voters of Maine will continue to advocate for the full recognition of sovereignty for the Wabanaki tribes.
We work on several other pieces of legislation expanding the state’s recognition of tribal sovereignty. LD 585 was a bill from the governor’s office that contained a few areas of expansion of tribal sovereignty, but not the full list of recommendations from the Task Force. This passed as was signed into law.
We also worked on LD 906, which would provide Passamaquoddy tribal members access to clean drinking water. The League also attended the Wabanaki Alliance’s Lobby Day and the Sipayik Rally for Clean Drinking Water, organized to urge passage of LD 906. That rally was enormously successful and was followed by an overwhelming vote in both the House and the Senate for LD 906, which the governor then signed into law.
The League will continue to seek out opportunities to support bills that move Maine toward racial equity. We are also learning how to apply a racial equity lens to all our advocacy work.
Neighbor to Neighbor
Neighbor to Neighbor is a project of the League of Women Voters of Maine designed to increase voter engagement and participation by canvassing neighborhoods with low voter participation. Low propensity voters are often the most marginalized and face the greatest obstacles to the voting booth. Our project consists of knocking on doors and talking to residents about elections, voting, and other forms of civic engagement. For ESL residents, we have easy-to-read voting booklets translated into Arabic, English, French, Somali, and Spanish, with additional languages coming soon. Volunteers are always needed, and we are preparing to knock on doors this fall ahead of the November 2022 election. Interested? Learn more here.
This year, the League also testified on several bills on racial justice issues, along with our partners in the Coalition on Racial Equity (CORE). Those bills included:
Racial Impact Statements (LD 2): Signed into law! A racial impact statement, like a fiscal impact statement, is a tool to aid legislators in detecting unintended and unforeseen disparate impacts of proposed legislation prior to adoption and implementation.
An Act To Promote Equity in Policy Making (LD 1610) This bill is a critical step towards improving demographic analysis and data sharing in Maine government that builds on the promise of LD 2 which this committee passed last year. As ardent followers and champions of the evidence-based public policy process, we have long observed the challenge captured by the statement “no data, no problem.” LD 1610 provides structures to make more of this data available so we can begin to identify the problems, and develop policy solutions to address them.