New laws put Mainers first
As your voice in Augusta, I take my responsibility to pass laws that make a real and positive impact on the lives of people in our community very seriously. I’ve done my best to be as accessible as possible so that I can understand what’s on your minds and what policies the Legislature can pass to make your lives easier. When the Legislature adjourned this May, I’m proud to say that we did so after passing some great legislation that directly addresses the concerns of Maine people. Many new laws go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, making Monday, Aug. 8 the day that these new laws finally went into action. I’m excited to share with you just some of the good work we were able to accomplish this year.
I know that many people in our community have been experiencing significant stress due to the high costs of home heating and energy. While these cost increases are largely due to global factors, my colleagues and I were determined to do whatever we could to ease this financial burden on Maine people. We passed laws to streamline access to existing heating assistance programs and created a tiered credit worth up to $3,000 to help small businesses dealing with high energy costs, like grocery stores, convenience stores and dairy farms. We also made structural changes, ensuring greater accountability and consumer input during the electric rate-setting process. And, we passed a law to hold utility companies accountable for failing to prioritize customers. Taken together, these measures help address needs in the short term while also planning for Maine’s electricity needs – including a more reliable and independent grid – in the future.
Access to quality, affordable health care is another top concern I hear from my neighbors time and time again. This year, the Legislature focused on making care more accessible by expanding insurance coverage for fertility treatments, postpartum care and contraceptives. It’s so important that Mainers be able to choose if and when to start a family, and these measures are critical to helping families get off to a healthy start when the time comes. I’m also very proud of a bill we passed to ensure that patients can access an emergency supply of their prescription medications in a pinch. The law allows pharmacists to dispense an emergency supply of a chronic maintenance drugs to patients without a prescription, so long as the patient has a history of receiving that medication. This is critical to the health and safety of people with chronic conditions, like the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Amy Roeder, who has previously needed an emergency refill of her inhaler to treat her asthma.
Also among the new laws that took effect on Aug. 8 are expanded Good Samaritan protections, which are meant to encourage people to call 911 when someone they are with is experiencing an overdose. These new protections will shield people from arrest and prosecution for certain crimes if evidence of those crimes is found at the scene of the overdose (violent crimes and crimes against children are not protected). I was proud to sponsor the legislation that expanded these protections, because it’s so necessary that we’re doing everything we can to prevent more overdose deaths. I’ll be eternally grateful to the recovery advocates who worked so hard to get this bill across the finish line; it’s a great example of the good policy we can pass when people are able to advocate for themselves and what they need.
This is just a small sample of the good work we were able to accomplish this year. We also prioritized property tax assistance; worked to make sure small, rural communities can access broadband; supported rural EMS departments; improved access to justice for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors; and so much more. While I’m sad I won’t be returning to the Legislature next year, I’m glad to have been a part of passing so much historic and useful legislation, and I’m confident my colleagues who return to the Legislature next year will carry on this mission.
If you have questions about any of the policies the Legislature passed last year, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time. You can send me an email to Chloe.Maxmin@legislature.maine.gov, call or text my cell phone at (207) 200-6224, or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChloeForSenate. You can also sign up for my regular e-newsletter by visiting www.mainesenate.org.