It’s over! It lasted from December to July, but the 2023 session of the Maine State Legislature has ended. It was a bittersweet session, with some good, some bad, and some carried over.

There were some truly significant bills passed this session which will improve the lives of thousands of Mainers in major ways. Some of the biggest highlights include a transformative Paid Family and Medical Leave bill, a fully refundable Child Tax Credit, several investments and positive changes to housing policy and tenant protections, and notable boosts in funding for civic legal aid and child care. Moreover, for bills which benefit non-immigrants and immigrants alike, there were a lot of huge wins to celebrate this session.

We were also able to celebrate the defeat of a number of bills which would have disproportionately harmed Maine’s immigrant communities, such as legislation making it harder for people to access General Assistance and implementing Voter ID requirements.

Where it gets tricky, though, involves the bills which would have benefitted traditionally marginalized communities; in this area, we found the legislature not nearly as forward-thinking as people like to think they are. Notably, despite getting closer than it has before and passing the House by a large margin, the “All Means All” healthcare expansion (i.e., removing immigration status as a barrier to MaineCare access) fell just a few votes short in the Senate. The years-long push to improve public safety by removing immigration status as a requirement for getting a driver’s license was carried over for another year without making it out of committee this year, even as other states around the country enacted a similar policy. Finally, vetoes from the Governor on two monumental bills (each sponsored by Speaker Talbot Ross) which would have helped farmworkers and our Wabanaki friends did not get enough support to be overruled. 

“So we beat on, boats against the current…” 

A number of our 2023 priority bills were carried over to next year’s session, and we will continue to push for those. We will also be watching closely for new legislation introduced by the cloture date next month (September 29). What follows here is a look back at what happened this session – the Good, the Bad, and the Carried Over to 2024 – organized by our four general priorities: Housing, Healthcare, Workforce and Economic Development, and Civil Rights.

The 2024 session will start in January. It remains to be seen how that session will go, but we will continue to advocate for policies to enhance the lives of Maine’s immigrant communities. We hope you will join us as one of our valued allies and partners in this work. See you then!


  • GOOD
    • Back to December, the first real action taken by the State Legislature this year involved passing emergency heating and housing relief (LD 3), led by House Speaker Talbot Ross and Senate President Jackson. Most of the funding went to Mainers for heating assistance in the form of $450 checks, but over $20 million was allocated for temporary housing to get people through winter following the end of the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. As one of the recipients of this short-term funding from the state, MIRC was able to open a 77-bed shelter in coordination with the Salvation Army and YMCA of Southern Maine.
    • Speaker Talbot Ross also sponsored An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis (LD 2), which gave a big boost to Housing First initiatives and will help provide support and stabilization services for people who face chronic homelessness.
    • Tenants now have more protection against evictions thanks to legislation from Sen. Carney (LD 45, which prohibits retaliatory evictions) and Sen. Tipping (LD 330, which boosts tenants’ legal protections and representation).
      An Act Regarding the Monitoring of Municipal Abandoned Property (LD 144), sponsored by Rep. Sachs, will help determine new opportunities for development.
    • Many bad bills about General Assistance were blocked, like proposals to create a time limit (LD 182 and LD 183) or residency requirements (LD 268 and LD 454) for G.A. eligibility. We are grateful to the majority of members on the Labor & Housing Committee who voted against all this harmful legislation.
    • Rep. Kessler was a champion of tenants’ rights and sponsored some significant bills which passed: LD 691 eliminates application fees for rental units and LD 701 requires tenants to be given more notice of large rent hikes.
    • A pilot program that works with McKinney-Vento liaisons to provide financial assistance with students at risk of becoming unhoused was included in the state budget thanks to legislation introduced by Sen. Rafferty (LD 1609).
  • BAD
    • Overall, there was still a general lack of urgency in terms of immediate housing / shelter needs. Over $70 million was included in the state budget for the construction of affordable housing via the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (which is great!!!), but that will not address the issue of shelter space needed immediately.
    • A bill sponsored by Rep. Rana which would have prevented landlords from asking about previous evictions (LD 557) did not make it out of committee, nor did Rep. Roeder’s bill to create a statewide rental registry (LD 1905).
      • An Act to Address Maine’s Affordable Housing Crisis (LD 226)
      • An Act to Establish the Permanent Commission on the Status of Housing in Maine (LD 314)
      • An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Fund New Affordable Housing for Low-income Households (LD 1074)
      • Many General Assistance bills (LD 1426, LD 1664, LD 1675, LD 1710, LD 1732)
      • An Act to Create the Stable Home Fund Program (LD 1540)


  • GOOD
    • Probably the biggest single highlight of this year’s legislative session overall is the success of Paid Family and Medical Leave (LD 1964), culminating years of work by members of the Maine Paid Leave Coalition (of which MIRC is a proud member), lead sponsors Rep. Cloutier and Sen. Daughtry, other legislators, staff, committee members, and key advocacy partners. Under this new policy, eligible employees will be able to take up to twelve weeks of paid time off each year for qualifying events, with job protections in place. Advocates have called it the most important labor legislation in Maine in thirty years, and Maine is now a national leader in the paid family leave movement.
    • Over $5 million for the Meals on Wheels program was included in the biennial budget (LD 258), which will keep hundreds of older people from going hungry.

    • Rep. Madigan sponsored a successful bill supporting translation services for hospital patients who are unable to speak English (LD 430).

    • Rep. Moonen led successful efforts to provide reimbursements for gender-affirming Care for MaineCare Members (LD 1040).
    • The Maine Council on Aging championed a bill sponsored by Rep. Fill which amends the laws governing the Medicare savings program (LD 1522), which they assert will provide economic justice to historically disadvantaged older Mainers.
  • BAD
    • In contrast to the success of Paid Family Leave, probably the biggest single heartbreak of this year’s legislative session is the narrow, last-minute failure of the “All Means All” legislation (LD 199) sponsored by Speaker Talbot Ross after a half dozen Senate Democrats voted against the original version on June 27 and an amended version from Rep. Meyer on July 6. On the bright side, support for MaineCare regardless of immigration status gained more support in the Maine State Legislature than ever before, and hundreds of advocates made their voices heard in Augusta, on Zoom, and in Letters to the Editor across the state. On the downside, the fight for health access to large numbers of Maine’s immigrant communities will continue, and thousands of people in Maine remain ineligible for health insurance for at least another year. This has been one of MIRC’s biggest legislative priorities for a long time now and we have seen tremendous support from our partners, so there is no denying that this defeat stings a lot.
    • A bill sponsored by Senator Rotundo of Lewiston which would have created culturally informed halfway houses (LD 895) did not make it out of committee.
    • RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Establish a Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (LD 928)


  • GOOD
    • Rep. Terry’s fully refundable Child Tax Credit bill (LD 1544) joins Paid Family and Medical Leave as potentially lifechanging legislation passed this session.
    • There was some successful legislation introduced by Rep. Meyer to make improvements to the TANF program (LD 80 and LD 945). To quote Maine Equal Justice, LD 945 “raises the amount families with TANF can save up to plan for emergencies and their futures and allows one car per licensed driver to be excluded from the asset limit,” and LD 80 provides clarity to TANF recipients.
    • Rep. Cloutier’s bill to create a Commission Regarding Foreign-trained Physicians Living in Maine (LD 937) was passed after some very strong advocacy efforts!
    • There was bipartisan support recognizing the need to reduce the amount of time asylum seekers need to wait to gain work authorization (Sen. Bennett’s LD 1050), though since that is a federal issue, that legislature was more idealism than realism. Our Congressional Delegation has introduced the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, but it remains to be seen whether that will be passed this year. 

    • One incredible bill that perhaps flew a bit under the radar was Rep. Cloutier’s legislation to change the Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program to a Grant Program (LD 1169), while at the same time increasing the fundable amount from $750 to $1,000. This is a big deal!

    • The Public Transit Advisory Council was reinvigorated thanks to Rep. O’Neil’s LD 1559, sending a message we need to enhance safety, reliability, and options.

    • Maine’s child care situation got a boost from President Jackson’s LD 1726, which will raise wages for child care workers (doubling monthly salary stipends from $200 to $400) and make improvements to Maine’s Child Care Subsidy Program. 

    • After several rounds of negotiations, a compromise was reached on Sen. Lawrence’s offshore wind bill (LD 1895) which ended up being celebrated by the Governor’s Office, labor unions, and climate organizations. We were encouraged by the recognition of environmental justice issues.
  • BAD
    • If not “All Means All,” this year’s biggest disappointment was arguably the Governor’s veto of the farmworkers bill sponsored by Speaker Talbot Ross (LD 398). Despite a strong show of support from advocates ranging from MECEP to MOFGA to Mano en Mano to MIRC, and several rounds of negotiations, farmworkers will continue to be considered ineligible for wage / overtime laws. The Governor has expressed an interest on working on this issue in 2024, though.
    • Legislation which would have created more tax fairness in Maine (like Rep. Osher’s LD 843) did not have much success this session.
    • Two other farmworkers’ rights bills:
    • An Act to Protect Farm Workers by Allowing Them to Organize for the Purposes of Collective Bargaining (LD 525)
    • An Act to Protect the Rights of Agricultural Workers (LD 1483)
    • An Act to Require Disclosure of Pay Ranges & Records of Pay History (LD 936)
    • An Act to Improve Work and Family Mobility by Altering and Removing Certain Requirements for Driver’s Licenses and Nondriver Identification Cards (LD 1138)
    • An Act to Reduce the Number of Children Living in Deep Poverty by Adjusting Assistance for Low-income Families (LD 1877)


  • GOOD
    • Some bad Voter ID bills (LD 34 and LD 1365) were successfully blocked. Photo ID requirements for voting have repeatedly been shown to be disproportionately discriminatory against BIPOC and low-income voters.
    • Another bad bill successfully killed was one (LD 123) which would have punished educators and censored ideas in schools as part of “culture wars.”
    • Voters will have a chance to “restore language regarding Maine Indian treaty obligations to all printed copies of the Maine Constitution” (according to the Wabanaki Alliance) this fall thanks to LD 78, sponsored by Speaker Talbot Ross. We encourage everyone to vote YES ON 6 on their ballot this fall. 
    • Rep. Brennan sponsored a bill (LD 155) which requires the state’s Department of Corrections to develop plans for community-based services and reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system.
    • The Maine Multicultural Center in Bangor received almost $200,000 in funding for new staff and programming thanks to a bill from Sen. Tipping (LD 320).
    • Sen. Carney’s Act to Improve Access to Civil Legal Services (LD 564) provides a much-needed $4 million funding boost to civic legal aid providers (e.g., UMaine, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Legal Services for the Elderly, Maine Equal Justice, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, and the Volunteer Lawyers Project).
    • Celebrating one of Maine’s oldest and largest immigrant communities, the State Legislature passed a bill from Rep. Ardell which designates March 17th of each year as “Maine Irish Heritage Day” (LD 628).
    • Rep. Woodsome’s bill to increase salaries for State Legislatures (LD 1155) from ~$29,000 to ~$45,000 will, in theory, do more to help create a more diverse legislative body with a wider variety of voices, especially from low-income and historically disenfranchised communities.
  • BAD
    • The “Parole-4-Maine” bill sponsored by Rep. Beebe-Center (LD 178) would have provided pathways to rehabilitation and transformation for incarcerated people; was narrowly rejected by the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee. 
    • As with her veto of the farmworkers’ bill, Governor Mill’s veto of LD 2004 (“An Act to Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations”) was one of the more depressing actions seen during this year’s legislative session. We will continue to stand with the Wabanaki Alliance in future years in their continued push for tribal sovereignty and will get there eventually.
    • An Act to Further Protect Survivors of Economic Abuse (LD 20)

    • An Act to Provide Support for Restorative Justice Practices in Maine (LD 179)

    • An Act to Protect Against Discrimination by Public Entities (LD 279) – [HELD BY THE GOVERNOR]

    • An Act Concerning Housing and Support Services for At-risk Youth and Youth Who Have Committed Juvenile Crimes (LD 288)

    • An Act to Create the New Maine Resident Service Coordination Program in the Department of Economic and Community Development (LD 787)

    • RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to Maine’s Constitution Establishing That All Maine Residents Have Equal Rights Under the Law (LD 1412)

    • An Act Regarding Environmental Justice (LD 1621)