With January behind us, we’re now three weeks into the new Biden administration and two months into the current Maine Legislative session. We’re tracking a number of bills this week, which can you can find below. We’re also following the push to relocate the statue at the Kennebec County Courthouse of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who joined the majority in the 1896 “separate but equal” ruling that upheld segregation. And, like most of you, we’ll follow Tuesday’s opening of Trump’s second impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in launching the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol. The Associated Press has a good explainer of the impeachment trial that is free to access. But if you have a subscription, the New York Times has a more in-depth analysis. All major networks and news channels will carry the impeachment trial live, and you can livestream on C-SPAN. If you haven’t already done so, please call Senators Susan Collins and Angus King Jr. and ask them to vote to convict. Find their contact information in our Civic Dashboard.
After the past four years, we’re all a little weary. But one thing we’ve learned is that apathy opens the door for injustice. If each of us pledges to take just one action every day, that door will close more easily. And together, we’ll keep it closed.
Stay engaged and stay safe.
The Suit Up Maine Admin Team
Public comments on Fuller status in Augusta
The Kennebec County Commissioners are soliciting comments from all Maine residents on the possible removal of a statue of Justice Melville Fuller on the grounds of the Kennebec County Courthouse in Augusta. In 1896, as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Fuller joined the majority in Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. This case was used as legal precedent for the restrictive and discriminatory Jim Crow laws that followed. In August, Maine’s state supreme court justices asked county officials to move the statue away from the courthouse, saying its placement isn’t “consistent with our values.” The commissioners heard public comments in December and will convene Feb. 16 to make a decision on whether to relocate the statue. No public comments will be accepted at that meeting. However, Mainers may submit comments before the Feb. 16 meeting by email to Robert Devlin, assistant county administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week at the State House
Legislators will hold public hearings and work sessions this week on these bills, we’re tracking in our Legislature Roundup. Follow the links below to learn more about the bills and find out how to submit testimony and contact your legislators to support them. See all the bills we’re tracking HERE.Honoring Maine veterans. This legislation would provide a pathway to a discharge upgrade for veterans who were less than honorably discharged solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Learn more Learn more here. Expanding MaineCare transportation coverage. This bill seeks to create a pilot program to expand MaineCare to cover non-medical transportation for basic needs for seniors and adults with disabilities. Learn more here. Making absentee voting more accessible. This bill would create a permanent absentee voter option in Maine, allowing voters who sign up to receive an absentee ballot for all local, state, and federal elections without having to submit a request. Learn more here. Implement rank-choice voting for state races. This bill would amend the state Constitution to apply ranked-choice voting to the governor’s and legislative races. Learn more here. Payment for unused earned paid vacation. This bill would require employers to pay workers for any unused earned vacation time if they are laid off or choose to leave their jobs, ensuring workers aren’t penalized for not taking their vacation time. Learn more here. Increasing racial equity in legislation. This bill would allow legislators to request “racial impact statements” to measure how proposed legislation might create new or deepen existing racial disparities in Maine. Learn more here.
On our website you’ll also find:
- Maine Legislature Roundup: A legislative tracker for the current session.
- Letter to the Editor Guide: Tips on writing LTEs and a list of Maine newspapers that accept them.
- Top Events: A list of upcoming progressive events across the state.
- Guides & Explainers: Resources on complex topics.
- Civic Dashboard: Contact info for your elected officials, tutorials on the legislative process, and more.
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