Action Under the Dome for Monday, April 19

Monday, April 19, 2021
Jen Lancaster

It's Patriot's Day, commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Menotomy, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Celebrated mostly in Maine and Massachusetts (thanks to our shared history), it is also the traditional start of school vacation week.

Although legislative committees are taking today off, there will be no break in the action. Legislative leadership set some tough deadlines last week for committees to finish working and voting their outstanding bills. There are a lot of them, and all of the bills have not yet been printed, much less scheduled for public hearing and work session.

A lot of those bills that have been worked have not been voted or reported out of committee. Remember, the Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on April 28 — that’s just a little over a week away. They are out for Patriot’s Day today, but they will be cramming after that, and we can expect shorter notice on committee action from here on out.


What Just Happened Here: In a work session on Friday, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA) voted a majority “ought not to pass” on a suite of bad photo ID bills (LDs 253557, and 1083). They voted unanimously to kill the most damaging one, LD 1099, which would have rolled back a number of Maine’s cherished voting rights provisions. And they took a strong bipartisan majority vote in favor of banning referendum spending by foreign governments and government-owned companies (LD 194, sponsored by Senator Rick Bennett). We wish this bill had been stronger. Senator Luchini introduced an amendment that would have strengthened the bill by banning participation by more foreign-owned companies, but that amendment did not get much traction. The committee still has another vehicle, LD 479, that they could use to take another bite at the apple, if they choose.


The Pace Picks Up: The League will be following about a dozen election bills this week and testifying on about half of those, the most important of which is LD 1363, the Secretary of State’s omnibus bill on elections. This bill gives statutory authority to some important measures that were instituted during the COVID elections of 2020 that help voters and support the smooth conduct of election, including provisions for ballot drop boxes and fixing problems with absentee ballots. We expect to be supporting these measures.

Next week, on April 26, one of our top priority bills, LD 1417, will get its public hearing. This bill is sponsored by Senator Louis Luchini and will ban corporate contributions to candidates and leadership PACs. Learn more and let your legislators know that you support the corporate contribution ban

See the full VLA schedule here or the full SLG schedule here.


Emancipation Day: On Friday, April 16, Washington D.C. residents and the U.S. celebrated Emancipation Day. The D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 ended slavery in D.C., freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them, and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate. Today, 159 years later, D.C. residents continue to fight for equity and representation, hoping to pass HR 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, this session.  Visit our Action Center to contact your federal representatives to let them know you support HR 51.


Check it Off: The deadline for Maine individual income tax payments was moved from April 15 to May 17, 2021. When you are filling out your tax forms, you can check a box to designate $3 to the Maine Clean Election Fund. This helps to finance the election campaigns of qualifying Clean Election candidates. The Clean Election check-off is on Line 1 of the Maine Income Tax form. It doesn't increase your tax bill and it doesn't decrease your tax refund. For more information, click this link.


Save the date for our upcoming biennial Convention: The schedule is filling up, and the swag is being ordered. Reserve your spot by April 30th, and you could win a nifty prize. If you don't win, no worries! All participants will receive a packet of goodies in the mail. Learn more and register for Convention here