New laws championed by Sen. Chipman take effect
AUGUSTA— A number of new laws sponsored and supported by Sen. Chipman took effect yesterday, Sept. 19. Maine people will begin to benefit from new laws working to make health care more affordable, create good-paying jobs, protect workers, invest in children and preserve Maine’s natural resources.
“This session, the Legislature addressed many big issues that had not received proper attention in recent years. We took action to combat climate change, passed laws to regulate student loan providers and confront the crisis of student debt, tackled the high costs of prescription drugs, and increased school funding and safety. Overall, the past year was very successful, and I’m proud of what we accomplished,” said Sen. Chipman.
Highlights of this past session include taking on “Big Pharma,” and winning, passing $130 million in direct property tax relief in the state budget and adopting a first-in-the-nation earned paid time off policy. All non-emergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die, unless otherwise specified. An overview of laws sponsored and supported by Sen. Chipman is available below:
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Chipman includes the following:
- Working to reduce homelessness in Portland: A new law requires all cities and towns in Maine to provide housing locally for homeless residents using emergency general assistance funds. If they do not have a shelter, they must provide housing at the nearest hotel or motel. It will no longer be acceptable to displace homeless residents by sending them to Portland.
- Getting big money out of local elections: Another new law will limit the individual contribution a municipal political candidate can receive to $500. The limit previously was set at $750. Municipal campaigns should be centered on issues that matter in those communities, not on courting big donors. This law will help candidates focus on grassroots efforts.
- Making roads safer: Drivers will now be required to yield to transit buses, thanks to a law passed this session. This law will clear up any confusion in absence of a town or city ordinance.
- An environmentally friendly building code: Another new law will add energy conservation and efficiency requirements to the Maine Uniform Building Code for voluntary adoption by municipalities. It is time for new construction to be built with an improved level of energy conservation in mind.
Senate Democrats also introduced a suite of new laws to make medicine more affordable and more accessible, increase price transparency and hold corporate middlemen accountable.
- The first bill, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, allows Maine to wholesale import prescription drugs from Canada, which are both safe and more affordable.
- The second bill, also sponsored by President Jackson, creates a Prescription Drug Affordability Board that will give consumers a voice in drug pricing, curb public spending and help drive down costs.
- The third bill, sponsored by Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, holds accountable corporations, acting as middlemen, that have pocketed prescription drug savings designed for consumers.
- The final piece of this puzzle, sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, requires drug companies to share information on costs related to drug production, marketing, advertising and consumer price so we can understand why prescription drugs cost so much.
Some other important legislation includes:
- Affordable, efficient, clean energy goals. Sen. Vitelli sponsored a new law that expands Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard by increasing the proportion of electricity sold in Maine that comes from renewable sources, setting the goal of reaching 100 percent use of renewable sources by 2050. Another new law will incentivize more solar power projects in Maine, and make it easier for small- and medium-sized groups to move forward on solar projects.
- Fighting predatory lenders – Sen. Vitelli. Lawmakers passed a Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect Mainers who invest in their education and career from predatory student loan servicers that have a history of taking advantage of and lying to consumers who are just trying to responsibly pay down their debt.
- Oversight of for-profit colleges – Sen. Vitelli. Lawmakers passed a law that will hold for-profit colleges in Maine to the same standard as state and other private schools.
- Increased school funding. This session, we made serious investments in young Mainers’ education so they can become successful leaders and workers. The state budget provides $111 million in new funding for K-12 education and $18 million for the School Revolving Loan Fund to repair crumbling buildings.