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SUPPORTING 
POLICY

MCAN is working to advance a transformational climate justice agenda in Maine. Here are some priority policies we have supported to bring equitable, systemic change to our state.

131st LEGISLATIVE SESSION - 2024

Summary

Of the six pieces of legislation MCAN supported, housing and tribal sovereignty legislation (LD 1710 and LD 2007) showed hopeful steps in the right direction. 

 

Office of New Americans funding in the budget is a great sign that the program will continue despite the legislation itself being carried over to the next legislative session.

 

We also noticed the many pitfalls for legislation: amendments, the study table, the appropriations table, legislative deadlines, and the Governor’s veto power all prevented forward progress during the 2024 legislative session. 

 

Every piece of legislation we supported passed both the House and State Senate, but, due to these many hurdles, none became law while maintaining the full systemic climate justice changes we hoped for.

Final Breakdown

LD 373 (labor harmony for clean energy projects)

  • Passed both chambers, vetoed

LD 1349 (return lands and waters to Wabanaki)

  • Passed both chambers, died on appropriations table

LD 1667 (place names)

  • Passed both chambers, died after it was not signed by Mills on “veto day”

LD 1710 (HOME act)

  • Amended to become a study, then passed both chambers

LD 2007 (Tribal sovereignty)

  • Amended to focus on criminal jurisdiction, then became law

LD 2167 (Office of New Americans)

  • Passed both chambers, then was carried over (but program received funding)

LD 2261 (Legislative approval requirement for zero-emissions vehicle rules)

  • Became law (we opposed)

Tribal Sovereignty 

Background

For more than 40 years, the state of Maine has used legislation passed in 1980 to deny the Wabanaki Nations’ inherent tribal sovereignty, excluding them from many rights and protections guaranteed by Federal Indian Law. This has resulted in decades of social and economic barriers for the Wabanaki and surrounding communities.

Both chambers of Maine’s legislature passed tribal sovereignty bills in 2022 and in 2023. Despite overwhelming public and overwhelming and bipartisan legislative support, Gov. Janet Mills has vetoed each of these attempts. In 2024, Wabanaki tribal leadership and the Mills Administration reached a compromise agreement expanding criminal jurisdiction 

Housing

Background

Maine has the oldest average housing stock in the United States. Cold winters, a high energy burden, and the ongoing countrywide housing affordability crisis combine to leave many Mainers underserved. MCAN supports weatherization and efficiency programs, transitioning homes to renewable heating sources, and ensuring new buildings are net-zero. MCAN recognizes we don’t have to choose between affordable and climate friendly housing and is excited to work with housing organizations to combat both problems simultaneously.

Intersectional Climate Justice

Background

Climate justice examines how a transition away from an extractive, fossil fuel-based economy can be done in a way where no one is left behind. Concepts that may not seem connected at first glance (social and antiracist justice, transportation, education, energy efficiency, food sovereignty, tribal sovereignty, economic justice, and more) are all tied to the climate crisis and intertwined with each other. You can visit MCAN’s Climate Justice Crash Course to learn more.

Summary

Of the six pieces of legislation MCAN supported, housing and tribal sovereignty legislation (LD 1710 and LD 2007) showed hopeful steps in the right direction. 

 

Office of New Americans funding in the budget is a great sign that the program will continue despite the legislation itself being carried over to the next legislative session.

 

We also noticed the many pitfalls for legislation: amendments, the study table, the appropriations table, legislative deadlines, and the Governor’s veto power all prevented forward progress during the 2024 legislative session. 

 

Every piece of legislation we supported passed both the House and State Senate, but, due to these many hurdles, none became law while maintaining the full systemic climate justice changes we hoped for.

Session Breakdown

LD 373 (labor harmony for clean energy projects)

Passed both chambers, vetoed

LD 1349 (return lands and waters to Wabanaki)

Passed both chambers, died on appropriations table

LD 1667 (place names)

Passed both chambers, died after it was not signed by Mills on “veto day”

LD 1710 (HOME act)

Amended to become a study, then passed both chambers

LD 2007 (Tribal sovereignty)

Amended to focus on criminal jurisdiction, then became law

LD 2167 (Office of New Americans)

Passed both chambers, then was carried over (but program received funding)

LD 2261 (Legislative approval requirement for zero-emissions vehicle rules)

Became law (we opposed)

Tribal Sovereignty 

LD 1349 planned to initiate land return to the Wabanaki and identify co-management opportunities between the State of Maine and Wabanaki tribes. After passing both chambers, the legislation landed on the appropriations table. It was still on the table when the legislature adjourned, effectively killing the legislation. 

 

LD 2007, compromise legislation between Wabanaki leaders and the Mills Administration on some aspects of tribal sovereignty, passed both chambers earlier this month and became law


MCAN supported LD 1349 and supported LD 2007 through testimony and we recognize the job is not done – we will continue to advocate for tribal sovereignty legislation in future sessions.

"MCAN stands in solidarity with the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the Mi’kmaq Nation and recognizes there is no climate or environmental justice without the inclusion of the tribes. The Wabanaki Nations have a history of stewardship of natural resources and the land, and must have the right to manage the lands, waters, and resources they hold as sacred and traditionally significant"

                                  - MCAN Testimony on LD  1349 (2023)

Housing

LD 1710 planned to create a new program to help people afford rent, encourage landlords to participate in rental assistance programs, and ban discrimination against tenants who use these programs. To help increase the supply of affordable housing, LD 1710 planned to require landlords with over ten units to make sure at least ten percent are affordable housing. However, this legislation would guarantee owners a tax credit for any resulting loss of income following this rule. This legislation was substantially amended, instead creating a 14-person commission to uncover income-based housing discrimination and incentivize landlords to rent to tenants reliant on vouchers or other forms of income-based assistance. This legislation passed both chambers.

 

After LD 1710 became a study, LD 1540 remained another hope for rental relief to come out of the legislature. This bill planned to invest $15 million in a rental assistant pilot program that would provide $300 per month of aid to struggling tenants. LD 1540 was still on the appropriations table after being carried over from 2023 and unfortunately remained on the table when the legislature adjourned this year, effectively killing the legislation.


Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, an MCAN coalition member, supported LD 1540 and supported LD 1710 through testimony, drawing the connection between justice for immigrant and asylum seekers and housing justice.

"As this committee has heard throughout this year’s legislative session so far, Maine has an ongoing housing crisis. As the bill language says, over 40% of Maine renters are spending more than 30% of their income on rent. Not surprisingly, to quote the bill again, “the months of January and February in 2023 saw more eviction filings for 12 renters than the previous 10 years.” As federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds run out, the crisis shows no signs of slowing down. A Stable Home Fund program would help both renters and landlords, as it will provide rental assistance from low-income existing tenants directly to landlords. With evictions at record levels, anything that would help at-risk families and individuals is a welcome development."

                               - MIRC testimony on LD 2167 (2024)

Transportation

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection rejected the Advanced Clean Cars Act II, which MCAN supported. 


Additionally, LD 2261, which MCAN opposed, passed and became law earlier this month. This law defines future rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding new motor vehicle emission standards (including rules to establish zero-emission requirements) as major substantive rules. This means future car emission standards must now pass through the full legislature rather than just the DEP.

 

"Nearly half of Maine’s current greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector. To effectively combat the climate crisis, Maine and other states need to undergo a swift transition away from fossil fuels. Among other things, this means phasing out gas-powered cars on a reasonable timeline."

                               - MCAN testimony on LD 2261 (2024)

Offshore Wind 

LD 373 planned to require companies leasing state-owned land for clean energy projects to negotiate with unions and ensure strong labor standards for these projects. The immediate applicability for this legislation would be for the construction and operation of an offshore wind port, like the one currently planned in Searsport. 

 

The legislation passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Mills, who claimed that these labor standards might “apply to the operation of any clean energy project, including biomass, hydroelectric, solar, wind and geothermal”. 

 

We supported this legislation and do not understand why a wider-reaching application of labor standards for Maine’s green workforce is a bad thing.

"Our work as a coalition is to center equity and justice in climate action especially in the transition towards clean renewable energy. Our state has one of the most ambitious renewable energy requirements in the country with a goal of increasing our renewable portfolio standard to 80% by 2030 and a goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2045. In order to make us resilient in the face of the worst effects of climate change and reach our ambitious reduction goals, we need to prioritize building out our clean energy infrastructure"

                                - MCAN testimony on LD 373 (2024)

Intersectional Climate Justice

LD 1667 planned to create a process through which Maine citizens could address problematic, harmful, racist, and/or derogatory place names in their communities. This bill planned to create a Maine Board on Place Names with the responsibility to make recommendations about renaming Maine features. This legislation passed both chambers and actually made it off the appropriations table. Unfortunately, Governor Mills decided not to sign it and 34 other bills sent to her on “veto day”, effectively killing the legislation.

 

We supported LD 1667 through testimony.

 

LD 2167 planned to create “the Office of New Americans within the Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and also [establish] an advisory council to the Office of New Americans.” This legislation planned to support New Mainers by strengthening English-language learning opportunities, building workforce pathways and entrepreneur support, streamlining the work already being done to support immigrants and refugees, and improving Maine’s data about these populations. Governor Mills had created Maine’s Office of New Americans through executive action in 2023. 

 

Although LD 2167 itself was carried over, Maine’s 2024-2025 budget (p. 47) includes $300,500 to support a public service coordinator, a public service executive, and fund other costs needed to support the Office of New Americans. MCAN and MIRC supported this program through legislative testimony.

"An important part of climate justice is ensuring all people, regardless of background, feel represented in the places they call home. Place names may at first glance be trivial, but are an important part of our shared culture. How areas are named, and who and what they honor, communicate the values we hold as a state."

                                - MCAN testimony on LD 1667 (2024)

"LD 2176 emphasizes the importance of strategic collaboration in addressing the unique needs of Maine's immigrant communities. It highlights the need for effective resource utilization and establishing a strong foundation for the Office of New Americans. Maine has seen an increase in immigrant population over the last decade, but we need to grow our infrastructure and state funding at the same rate to support their economic and social integration. MIRC believes that immigrants need to be developed intentionally and systematically."

                                - MIRC testimony on LD 2176 (2024)

ONGOING CLIMATE JUSTICE ADVOCACY 

Tribal Sovereignty 

MCAN is continuing our work with the Wabanaki Alliance Coalition to support tribal sovereignty this year (See LD 2007 above).

MCAN firmly believes that this issue is also our issue. The tribes in the land we call Maine deserve the rights, privileges, powers, duties and immunities similar to those of hundreds of other federally recognized Indian tribes. MCAN understands that this is not an instance of our state granting their rights but rather restoring their rights as well as a measure of their sovereignty that was compromised by the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.

 

  • MCAN testimony on LD 2094 (2020) An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act

Transportation

Join with allies to focus on increasing public transportation and reducing transportation emissions by transitioning away from gas-powered vehicles.

 

Nearly half of Maine’s climate emissions come from the transportation sector. MCAN recognizes increasing public transit is a large part of the solution to reducing our emissions as well as bringing community benefits statewide, especially to rural Mainers. MCAN looks forward to working with public transportation advocates to simultaneously help the state curb its transportation emissions and reduce the sense of isolation many Mainers feel across this geographically large state.

 

Just Transition

Offshore Wind

  • Work in coalition to bring the offshore wind and port process and education to Maine stakeholders through educational events and community conversations.   

  • Offshore wind has the power to transition our state away from fossil fuel dependency. Our proximity to the Gulf of Maine provides much potential for the state to construct, maintain, and benefit from floating offshore wind power.

  • In 2023, Maine’s Legislature passed a bill to develop offshore wind and ports with strong environmental and labor standards. This legislation also incentivizes wind developers to build outside Lobster Management Area 1, where most lobstering takes place in the Gulf of Maine.

Divestment

  • MCAN collaborates as part of the intergenerational team urging the Maine Public Employee Retirement System to divest its holdings from fossil fuels in accordance with signed law (LD99).

  • In 2021, Maine passed legislation that requires its public employee retirement fund (MainePERS) to divest the 1.2 billion of pension funds currently tied up in industries which directly fuel the climate crisis.

  • MainePERS has not listened. They are taking an overly cautious approach to divestment that conflicts with the timeline that science and justice require. To make matters worse, they are using vague language and not explicitly committing to forgoing new fossil fuel investments.

Pine Tree Amendment 

  • The Pine Tree Amendment (PTA) adds language to the Bill of Rights in the Maine Constitution that will protect the rights of all people in the state, including present and future generations, to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural and healthful qualities of the environment.

  • The PTA serves as a check on government authority and makes clear the government's duty to protect the state’s natural resources.

  • MCAN continues to support this amendment and is looking forward to working with a coalition in the upcoming years to continue our support of this goal.

PAST LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS 

2023

MCAN Testimony on LD 78 (2023), RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Require All Provisions in the Constitution to Be Included in the Official Printing

 

MCAN testimony on LD 2004 (2023) An Act to Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations

  • Passed both chambers of the Legislature, but failed after Gov. Mills vetoed and the House did not reach the ⅔ majority threshold needed to override.

MCAN Testimony on LD 2, An Act to Address Chronic Homelessness by Creating the Housing First Fund

  • LD 2 Passed but did not receive funding.

 

MCAN Testimony on LD 3, An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs

MCAN Testimony on LD 1559, An Act to Advance the State's Public Transit Systems by Reinvigorating the Public Transit Advisory Council

 MCAN Testimony on LD 259 An Act Making Unified Allocations from the Highway Fund … (support for public transit)

MCAN Testimony on LD 258, An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund (in support of funding rural rental program)

MCAN testimony on LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore

Wind Resources

  • LD 1895 Passed and became law.

LD 1708 Passed in both the House and the Senate in 2021 but was vetoed by the Governor. MCAN supported Our Power Coalition’s gathering of signatures for a referendum to get this issue on November 2023’s ballot. It failed. We will continue to educate Mainers on the benefits of a COU.

MCAN Testimony for LD 1611, An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a Nonprofit, Customer-owned Utility.

  • Did not pass.

MCAN Testimony on LD 1562, An Act to Protect the Retirement of State Employees and Teachers by Establishing Standards for Fiduciary Responsibility (would have undermined LD 99 Divestment law - MCAN testified Ought Not to Pass) 

LD 1659, An Act to Create the Maine Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator

  • Signed into law, 2021.

LD 99, An Act to Require the State to Divest Itself of Assets in the Fossil Fuel Industry. 

Read Cassie’s 350 Maine + MYCJ testimony here. (Not submitted through MCAN)

  • Signed into law, 2021.

LD 437, An Act to Establish the Maine Healthy Soils Program

  • Signed into law, 2021.

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