The past week has been a series of highs and lows. The highs:Watching Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows testify before Congress in support of HR 1, the For The People Act.Tracking the progress of two bills to protect LGBTQ+ rights: a bill to restore benefits to LGBTQ+ veterans in Maine, which passed out of committee and is headed to the Maine House for a vote, and a bipartisan victory in the U.S. House for the Equality Act, which now heads to the Senate. And the lows:Learning that Sen. Susan Collins is taking her name off the Equality Act.Watching Rep. Jared Golden vote against a relief package that would bring $1.6 billion to Maine. You can get more details on these developments below, along with an update on what we’re tracking in the Legislature this week. One parting note to those in Maine Senate District 14: The special election that we hope will send Craig Hickman to the Maine Senate is one week from today! You can vote early in person until March 4 and at the polls on March 9. If you’re voting absentee, your ballot must be received by your town clerk by 8 pm election day. Find contact info for your town office.
The Suit Up Maine Admin Team
THIS WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE
Updates on bills we’re tracking in our Legislature Roundup.
Providing rental assistance. The state’s wait list for housing vouchers is more than 20,000 people long. LD 473 would address this problem by creating The Maine Rental Assistance and Voucher Guarantee Program to provide financial help for up to 1,000 Maine households and create a network of housing counselors to help people find and keep stable housing. A public hearing will be held at 10 am Wednesday, March 3. Learn about LD 473 and how to submit testimony.
Ranked choice voting for state elections. Ranked choice voting is currently available in Maine for state and federal primary races, but can only be used for federal offices in general elections. LD 202 would amend the state Constitution to apply RCV, also known as instant-runoff voting, to general elections for governor and Maine Legislature. The public hearing has already been held, but there’s still time to submit testimony. Learn about LD 202 and how to submit testimony.
LD 173 heads to Maine House for Vote. A bill that would restore veterans’ benefits to LGTBQ+ veterans in Maine has passed out of committee and will likely go to the House for a vote next week. Please email your legislators and ask them to support LD 173. Learn more about LD 173 and how to contact your legislators.
THIS WEEK IN D.C.
Federal legislation and nominations to keep an eye on.
COVID relief bill. 27% of Mainers are struggling to afford basic needs, 1 in 5 Maine children are food insecure, and nearly 20% of Mainers are on the verge of losing their homes. A massive relief bill that could bring $1.6 billion to Maine passed the House early Saturday morning…without the support of CD2 Rep. Jared Golden, one of only 2 Democrats who joined all Republicans to oppose the $1.9 trillion relief package. It heads to the Senate next, where passage is uncertain. Learn more about the bill and how to contact Senators Collins and King.
Equality Act. Last week, the U.S. House passed the Equality Act, which provides the broadest civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in U.S. history. Maine Representatives Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree co-sponsored the bill. Shortly after we sent out last week’s newsletter, which noted that Collins was a co-sponsor of the bill last year, news broke that Collins will not sponsor it now, citing the need for “unspecified changes.” The news follows last year’s decision by the Human Rights Campaign to endorse Collins’ Democratic opponent, the first time the LGBTQ advocacy organization hasn’t endorsed a Collins re-election bid. Please contact Collins and ask why she won’t stand up for LGBTQ+ equality now. Find her contact info in our Civic Dashboard.
On our website you’ll also find:
- Maine Legislature Roundup: A legislative tracker for the current session.
- Actions: Calls to action on a range of issues.
- Letter to the Editor Guide: Tips on writing LTEs and a list of Maine newspapers that accept them.
- Statements, Op-Eds, and Testimony: Legislative testimony, guest editorials, and statements from our admin team.
- 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.
Suit Up Maine is an independent, all-volunteer grassroots progressive group that seeks to build a more informed and engaged electorate in Maine. Founded in 2016, Suit Up Maine is run by and for Mainers, and is not engaged in fundraising of any kind. Representing thousands of constituents across Maine’s 16 counties, Suit Up Maine raises awareness of and advocates for state and federal policies and legislation that promote equity and equality in civil rights, social justice, health care, the environment, education, the economy, and other areas that affect the lives of all people. Suit Up Maine is beholden to issues and action, not parties or politicians.
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