New laws championed by Sen. Millett take effect today
AUGUSTA— A number of new laws sponsored and supported by Sen. Rebecca Millett take effect today, Sept. 19. Maine people will begin to benefit from new laws that work to make health care more affordable, create good-paying jobs, protect workers, invest in children and preserve Maine’s natural resources.
“This session, we got back on track in the Legislature and made substantial progress in many areas,” said Sen. Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth. “We tackled prescription drug costs, worked to increase access to health care, expanded worker’s rights, restarted our efforts to address climate change and increased funding and safety in our schools.”
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. Millett is available below:
Senate Democrats 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, and cosponsored by Sen. Millett, 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.
Other important legislation includes:
- Ensuring Maine workers get paid time off when they need it. Sen. Millett sponsored a first-in-the-nation statewide earned paid time off policy. Under this new law, more Mainers won’t have to choose between their paycheck and dealing with an unexpected emergency. This includes caring for a sick kid, bringing an aging parent to a doctor’s appointment or dealing with a flat tire. This new law provides earned paid time off to 85 percent of all Maine workers while exempting more than 40,000 of Maine’s 50,792 businesses.
- Banning vaping on school grounds. Anew law sponsored by Sen. Millett bans the use or possession of all electronic smoking devices and tobacco products on school grounds, school buses and at any school-sponsored event. Sen. Millett introduced the bill after hearing from Maine teens about how worried they were about e-cigarette use among their peers.
- Increased school funding. This session, serious investments were made 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 Renovation Revolving Loan Fund to repair crumbling buildings in response to several bills, including one from Sen. Millett.
- Paying our teachers a living wage. After Sen. Millett introduced teacher salary bills three sessions in a row, lawmakers built a plan to pay our teachers a $40,000 minimum salary by 2022. If we want our kids to be taught by the best teachers, we need to pay educators a professional wage.
- Preventing lead poisoning among children. Several new laws passed this year, including one that is already in effect, aim to address lead poisoning in children. A new law sponsored by Sen. Millett requires all schools test for lead contamination in drinking water.
- Affordable, efficient, clean energy goals. Sponsored by Sen. Vitelli and cosponsored by Sen. Millett, a new law 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.