AUGUSTA—On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee overwhelmingly endorsed a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash to support Maine’s federal workers during any government shutdown occurring this calendar year. The vote was 11-2.
The bill — LD 477, “An Act To Provide Relief to Federal Employees Affected by the Federal Shutdown” would provide a state guarantee on private loans from banks and credit unions to federal government employees living in Maine and working without pay.
“No one should have to work without pay. But when the government shut down for more than a month around the holidays, that is exactly what happened for 1,000 Mainers. The government shut down, the paychecks stopped, but the bills and the work did not,” said President Jackson. “While I’m glad that the shutdown has ended, the hardships have not, and the threat of another shutdown still hangs over workers’ heads. This bill is our opportunity to step in to relieve the financial stress and personal anxiety many of these workers face should the government shut down again.”
The original bill was introduced after hearing from federal workers and families during the monthlong federal government shutdown that ended mid-January. The amended version of the bill would provide a state guarantee on private loans during a federal government shutdown occurring before Dec. 31, 2019. The loans would be limited to one month’s net pay up to $5,000 per employee.
LD 477 has earned support from Gov. Janet T. Mills, Speaker Sara Gideon, State Treasure Henry Beck, President of the Maine Credit Union League, Todd Mason and President of the Maine Bankers Association, Chris Pinkham.
The bill will now go to the floor of both the Senate and House for a vote.