March 24, 2020

Family Planning, Get Involved, Reproductive Justice, Reproductive Rights

We at Maine Family Planning want to keep you updated on the status of advocacy efforts that YOU have supported related to family planning.

Last Tuesday, the Maine State Legislature adjourned sine die, which means they do not know when they will return. At the time of adjournment, our family planning funding bill—LD 1613, which would replace gagged Title X funds with state funding—had not yet been moved out of the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee, despite the committee’s majority Ought to Pass vote in February. There are a couple possible avenues for our bill going forward:

  • The legislature can reconvene for a special/emergency session before December 3rd and the HCIFS committee can report out LD 1613 and then House and Senate votes will take place, OR
  • If the legislature cannot convene prior to December 3rd, 2020 then the bill will die and need to be resubmitted during the next legislative session.

We will keep you updated as things evolve, but we wanted you to know about the status of this important bill so many of you championed. Other bills we advocated for, including LD 2085, which would ensure reproductive health care for incarcerated people, and LD 1946, which would pave the way for reproductive health centers to provide mental health and substance use treatment, remain similarly stalled.

For now, Maine Family Planning and our fellow family planning providers continue to find ways to meet patient needs, amid the pandemic, and without critical public funding.

We appreciate your ongoing support and wish you health and safety during this time.

  • Stay informed about developments related to Covid-19 in our state by regularly checking the Maine CDC website or calling 2-1-1 with questions.
  • You can find information about MFP’s services during the pandemic here and here or by calling 207-922-3222.
  • Information on critical safety net systems—like unemployment benefits and food and financial security programs—during Covid-19 can be found at this webpage launched by our allies at Maine Equal Justice.

Additional Legislative Updates

Before adjourning, legislators worked hard to pass the following emergency measures related to public health and safety, which went into effect immediately:

The legislature also passed bills specific to the Covid-19 pandemic. The most notable are:

  • LD 2163, “An Act To Address Funding Needs Related to COVID-19”:  This bill authorizes transfers from the Reserve for General Fund Operating Capital to a COVID-19 response fund in order to address funding needs associated with COVID-19 through January 15, 2021.
  • LD 2167, “An Act To Implement Provisions Necessary to the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Citizens of Maine in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”
    • This bill provides the Governor, on a temporary basis, with additional powers for the duration of the state of emergency declared by the Governor due to the outbreak of COVID-19 to enable the Governor to reduce the impact of the pandemic. It includes:
      • The ability to waive the compulsory school attendance requirements, including the minimum number of school days, or allow the compulsory attendance requirements to be met through nontraditional learning systems, including but not limited to remote access; and continue to provide nutrition services to students of schools that are closed due to COVID-19.
      • Revisions to certain unemployment insurance eligibility and benefit charging provisions under the Employment Security Law to protect public health during the state of emergency by allowing an individual who takes a temporary leave of absence due to COVID-19 to qualify for unemployment benefits.
      • Establishing the prior year’s budget as the budget for the ensuing year if an annual municipal budget meeting is delayed beyond the date the annual budget is customarily submitted to the legislative body of that municipality for approval due to public health concerns arising from COVID-19 until a final budget is approved. If a final budget is not approved in a timely manner and the municipal officers determine that property taxes must be committed in a timely manner to the collector, the municipal assessor or assessors may commit property taxes on the basis of the budget deemed approved.
      • Authorizing the Governor, only for the elections scheduled to be held on June 9, 2020, to take any reasonable administrative actions the Governor considers necessary to facilitate voting by all residents registered to vote in this State in a manner that preserves and protects public health in response to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, issuance and receipt of absentee ballots for the June 9, 2020 elections.

MFP is honored to fight in Augusta for YOUR reproductive freedom, economic security, and health care access. We will get through this, together.