COVID-19 RESPONSE LEGISLATION
- Temporarily expand unemployment insurance benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. Learn about your eligibility and how to apply at this link.
- Empower the state Department of Education to waive certain school-day requirements and continue getting meals to kids who need them.
- Allow remote participation in municipal meetings. Town officials can get more information here.
- Establish a consumer loan guarantee program to help eligible Mainers access low- or no-interest loans. More information is available on the FAME website.
- Address the potential need to make changes to the way the June 2020 elections are carried out.
- Authorize the Governor to prohibit utilities from terminating residential electric and water service.
We also passed emergency legislation that grants Governor Mills access to at least $11 million in State funding to respond to COVID-19.
BUDGET AND BOND
Before adjourning, we passed a
$73 million supplemental budget
that prioritizes initiatives related to COVID-19, including a $1 million funding infusion for the Maine CDC, which will be used to supplement federal funds to expand capacity at the State laboratory and to hire and retain critical health care personnel including epidemiologists and public health nurses to respond to the pandemic.
The budget also includes $15 million for rate increases to support direct health care providers who are caring for Maine seniors, people with disabilities and children with behavioral health needs, $38 million for pre-K-12 education raising the State’s contribution by one percent from 50.78 to 51.78 percent, another step towards the 55 percent in state law, and $10 million to repair the State’s roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure.
I am proud to share that we also put an additional $17.4 million in the so-called “Rainy Day Fund,” so it will be available for future COVID-19-related expenses, shifts in the economy or any other crises our state may face. That increases the fund to roughly $257 million.
Finally, we also passed a bond in the amount of $105M for transportation needs and $15M for broadband that will be sent to voters in June.
UPDATES ON THE GOVERNOR’S ACTIONS
This week, Gov. Mills:
- Obtained for Maine’s small businesses greater access to loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Maine small businesses can now access and apply for Economic Impact Disaster Loans at this link.
- Signed a proclamation of civil emergency. The proclamation brings the State of Maine to highest alert and allows Gov. Mills to deploy all available state resources to protect the health and safety of Maine people and to take every action she reasonably deems necessary to help respond to and protect against the spread of COVID-19 in Maine. It also eases Maine’s access to critical federal aid to boost response efforts.
- Called for the classroom instruction to end as soon as possible.
- Prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Closed dine-in facilities at restaurants and bars statewide.
A full list of Gov. Mills’ actions and orders so far can be found
at this link
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS
The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still:
- Social Distancing: I urge you to follow the current guidance to avoid group gatherings of more than 10 people, limit physical contact such as handshakes and, if you’re an employer and haven’t already, consider instituting work from home or paid time off options to the fullest extent possible.
- Avoid Travel: Postpone any unnecessary out-of-state travel.
- Keep Healthy: Practice the same preventive measures you would to prevent catching a cold - wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are sick.
- Call Your Doctor: If you are exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, call your medical provider.
COVID-19 INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES
We are also offering a variety of resources to make sure you are aware of any changes in the coronavirus status or in the state’s response, including:
- 211 Maine: Get answers at any time by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Maine CDC Coronavirus Website: Sign up for email updates, learn more about the coronavirus and get the latest status in Maine at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus.
- U.S. CDC Coronavirus Website: Get nationwide and global updates and learn more about the coronavirus at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/.
REMOTE WORK/GET IN TOUCH
In addition to adjourning session and sending legislators home, this week our State House staff began working remotely. While working from home, we are still entirely available to you. I can be reached at my email address. You can also contact my legislative aide by calling 207-287-1430.