Legislative activity has been slow to date, but the pace will pick up quickly with numerous public hearings and subsequent work sessions on the hundreds of bills printed to date. Some bills are being printed as so-called “concept drafts” that beyond the title provide no description or only a brief outline of what the sponsor intends. About 1,000 bills are yet to be printed as of early March.
Energy bills include:
- Develop and implement new rate structures for electric utilities (LD 542)
- Reduce electricity rates (LD 683)
- Promote electricity price stability for Standard-offer Service (LD 987)
Health bills include:
- Mandate coverage of various tests, exams, procedures (LDs 267, 278, 663)
- Ensure health care for all Maine residents (LD 329)
- Establish a Constitutional right to Health Care (LD 590)
Labor bills include:
- Require progressive discipline and just cause in firing workers (LD 324)
- Improve labor conditions (LD 373)
- Increase overtime eligibility for Maine workers (LD 513)
- Establish a paid family and medical leave system (LD 738)
- Allow employees to request flexible work schedules (LD 827; LD 961)
- Use three-year inflation average for minimum wage indexing (LD 855)
- Reduce recurring workplace harassment (LD 856)
- Pay ranges disclosure and pay history record keeping (LD 936)
Tax bill titles include:
- Create tax incentives to employers to provide on-site childcare (LD 103)
- Impose a surcharge of 3% or 6% on high taxable incomes (LD 667)
- Establish a 4-day sales tax holiday weekend just prior to Labor Day (LD 708)
- Phase out the individual income tax; reduce state expenditures accordingly (LD 835)
- Establish a new top individual income tax bracket and rate (LD 843)
Other bills include:
- Eliminate the ban on single-use plastic bags (LD 425)
- Remove the 5-cent fee for bags in retail stores (LD 572)
- Evaluate strategies for improving the returnable bottle laws (LD 972)
Paid Family & Medical Leave for all Maine workers, employers and self-employed people – financed by a new payroll tax – was recommended last month by a two-year study commission but detailed implementation legislation has not been printed yet. The envisioned tax would be shared by employees and employers. Workers would be able to take 12-16 weeks of leave per year. Maine’s existing family and medical leave law (FMLA) provides 10 weeks of unpaid leave every two years. Thousands of small employers with 1-14 workers would lose the exemption that Maine law currently provides. The program would cost over $400 million a year, and paid leave would be on top of other types of paid and unpaid time off required by Maine employment law. Proponents of paid family leave are expected to hold “listening sessions” to drum up support and neutralize small employer opposition. NFIB is part of a coalition pushing back on this expensive and expansive new workplace entitlement program that exists to date in only 11 states.
Higher Income Tax Rates continue to be a goal of legislators and advocates who believe that upper income families in Maine currently do not pay their “fair share”. What is meant by “fair share” varies by state and apparently has no objective definition. LD 667 would impose a 3% surcharge on Maine taxable income in excess of $1,000,000 and 6% surcharge on the taxpayer’s portion that exceeds $10,000,000. Seventy-five percent of the new revenues would be dedicated to K-12 education and twenty-five percent to rural economic development. LD 843 would add a new top bracket of $125,000 for individuals ($250,000 for married joint filers) and impose a 11.15% tax, which depending on taxable income would be the nation’s highest or second highest state income tax for families in those brackets. NFIB strongly opposes these bills.
Health Insurance Premium Support for small employers and their employees was funded through the end of this year, as part of the supplemental State Budget signed into law last month. Governor Janet Mills used $39 million in federal funds in 2021 to establish the program and used additional $16 million in federal funds to extend the program beyond its planned April 30, 2023, termination.