Laws championed by Senate Democrats take effect

AUGUSTA — Non-emergency laws introduced and supported by the Maine Senate Democrats during the Second Regular Session of the 130th Legislature took effect Monday, Aug. 8. This session, lawmakers championed measures to combat high-energy prices, improve access to health care and prescription drugs, promote economic opportunity and support working families, seniors and veterans.

“Maine people deserve a government that puts them at the heart of their agenda. If you look back at the laws passed this year, it’s clear that is exactly what we did. My colleagues and I took the stories, concerns and ideas we heard from working families, seniors and small business owners and turned them into legislative action. We passed laws to improve access to birth control, fertility care and postpartum care, while also combating outrageous energy prices and creating new economic opportunities,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “As an everyday, working-class person I’m proud of what we accomplished this session but I know our work is not over — and I don’t plan on backing down anytime soon.”

“When the Maine Legislature reconvened in January, we didn’t hesitate to get to work. In the wake of sky-high energy prices, we passed a series of laws to hold utility companies accountable, improve heating assistance programs and deliver relief to small businesses. At the same time, we sought to remove barriers to the workforce, support survivors of domestic violence and help rural communities get online,” said Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic. “This work would not have been possible without the residents who showed up at public hearings, spoke out in support of proposed laws and bravely shared their stories.”

“On the heels of last year’s success, lawmakers worked across the aisle to come up with creative, innovative solutions to our state’s most daunting challenges. We partnered with industry experts and affected Mainers to pass a historic law designed to help ease the housing shortage. We also seized the opportunity to boost emerging industries that hold untold economic potential,” said Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick. “I’m confident that the laws passed this year will not only support Maine people and businesses now but also set our state up for a strong, prosperous future.”

All non-emergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die, unless otherwise specified. Emergency measures, including provisions adopted as a part of the supplemental budget, take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Some key non-emergency laws sponsored and supported by Senate Democrats can be found below:

Improving contraceptive coverage. A new law requires state-regulated health care plans renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2023, to cover all prescription contraceptive medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration at no out-of-pocket cost to patients.

Improving access to postpartum care. A new law improves access to postpartum care by requiring state-regulated health care plans to include 12 months of postpartum care that meets the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a part of the plan’s maternity care. The requirements apply to individual and group health plans issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2023.

Improving access to fertility care. A new law requires health insurance carriers to provide coverage for fertility diagnostic care, for fertility treatment if the enrollee is a fertility patient and for fertility preservation services. The requirements apply to state-regulated health care plans issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2024.

Improving access to lifesaving, chronic medication. A new law allows a pharmacist to dispense an emergency supply of a chronic maintenance drug to a patient without a prescription if the pharmacist is unable to obtain authorization to refill the prescription from a health care provider and the pharmacist has a record of the prescription in the name of the patient, including the amount of the drug dispensed in the most recent prescription or the standard unit of dispensing the drug, so long as the record does not explicitly prohibit the pharmacist from dispensing an emergency supply

Supporting local EMS departments. Lawmakers created a new program to help emergency medical services departments, especially those in rural areas, recruit and retain workers, as well as grow their departments and plan for the future.

Studying international reference pricing. A new law requires the Maine Health Data Organization to annually report on the 100 most costly prescription drugs and the 100 most frequently prescribed prescription drugs in the State and determine the potential savings that could be achieved by subjecting those drugs to a referenced rate.

Funding for Meals on Wheels. A new law provides ongoing funding to provide home-delivered meals to homebound seniors. It also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse an area agency on aging for mileage that exceeds the state reimbursement rate.

Property tax relief for Maine veterans. Lawmakers passed two new laws to improve property tax relief for Maine veterans. The first measure allows persons who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during the period from February 1, 1955, to February 27, 1961, to qualify for veterans’ property tax exemptions based on the status of the property beginning on or after April 1, 2023. The second law provides an additional refundable property tax fairness credit for veterans who are 100 percent permanently and totally disabled. 

Electric rate relief for small businesses. A new law creates a one-time tiered energy bill credit worth up to $3,000 for eligible businesses with high-energy burdens. The credit targets locally owned grocery stores, convenience stores and dairy farms. Eligible business owners should see the credit automatically applied to their utility bill by Oct. 30, 2022.

Boost the emerging aerospace industry. A new law establishes a public-private partnership to facilitate the growth of space and aerospace industries in Maine referred to as the Maine Space Complex. This will boost Maine’s emerging aerospace industry, create high-paying jobs and grow the state’s economy.

Supporting municipal broadband programs. A new law will help municipalities access the capital necessary to leverage grants and other resources to get connected.

Remove barriers to employment. A new law prevents postsecondary schools in Maine from withholding a transcript or diploma on the grounds that a student has outstanding debt. The refusal to provide this document often stands in the way of employment which would enable students to pay off debt.  

Closing the justice gap in rural Maine. A new law directsthe University of Maine System to establish a rural practice clinic in Aroostook County as a 3-year pilot project of the existing legal aid clinic of the University of Maine School of Law. A report is due back to the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee no later than Jan. 15, 2024.

Create safer college campuses. A new law combats sexual violence on college campuses by improving prevention efforts, investing in long-term resources to support survivors and gathering comprehensive data on the sexual violence that occurs on campus. 

Better support survivors of domestic violence. A new law recodifies and restructures the Protection from Abuse Statutes so that the language is clear, easy to read and accessible to survivors of domestic violence, attorneys and judges.


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