I hope everyone is having an awesome school year. At the MEA we have been hard at work getting ready for the next legislative session while also working on implementing the 20+ bills we successfully passed last session. But have no fear – we will not rest. We know there is a lot more work to do to improve the lives of MEA members and the students we serve, and we have a plan to see more success this legislative session. Here’s a quick update, but watch for more updates starting in January. I intend to send a legislative update every Friday with the news of the previous week and a look ahead.
Portland Event with Governor Janet Mills
The Maine Democratic Party is hosting an event with Governor Janet Mills on Wednesday, December 18th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in Portland and the MEA will be getting some tickets. To be honest, we are having some concerns with Governor Mills, since she vetoed two of our key priorities last session, but we hope to have fun at this event.
If you would like to attend, contact me right away and we will include as many as we can in our MEA contingent.
Save the Date – MEA Lobby Days
The last legislative session was so successful for MEA members because so many of you stepped up and communicated with your legislators. We must do that again and we must grow the number of members talking directly with legislators. The MEA has planned three Lobby Days for the February vacation week – please sign up now to attend one, two or three days: http://bit.ly/2020-Lobby-Day
These dates are tentative, and we will work to confirm them once we have a better sense of the legislative calendar but please sign up right away. We will need your help to make sure we have more success this session.
Legislative Priorities in the Months Ahead:
Below are some of the key bills the MEA will be advocating for in the next legislative session:
- $16 living wage for all school employees: Too many school employees live at or even below the poverty line. Representative Ben Collings (Portland) put in a bill to increase the minimum pay for all school employees to $16 per hour.
- Protect teachers from punitive transfers: Too many teachers have told us stories of being transferred involuntarily to different grade levels because they had a disagreement with their administrator. The MEA is working with Representative Dave McCrea, a former MEA member from Fort Fairfield, to make sure transfers cannot be done for punitive reasons.
- Loan forgiveness for teachers: The MEA intends to work with Senator Nate Libby of Lewiston on his bill to increase loan forgiveness for Maine’s teachers. We have a critical shortage of teachers and we must act to address this growing problem. More loan forgiveness programs will certainly help.
Carry Over Bills: There are also several bills from last session that the Legislature did not act upon and we are very excited to start talking about with legislators.
- Granting public sector workers the right to strike
- Securing binding arbitration for all contracts in the public sector, including for wages and health insurance payments
- Providing teachers a meaningful voice in the “educational policy” decisions that impact their schools and their classrooms
- Improving health care benefits for retired educators
- Among many others
Be on the lookout in the coming weeks to learn more about the bills we will be advocating for in the months ahead. If you have any questions, never hesitate to reach out.
Holiday Greetings and Legislator Visits to Your Classroom
We must constantly build relationships with our legislators. If you send holiday cards, consider sending one to your local state representative or state senator. Better yet, invite your representative or senator into your classroom in December so they can see the work you do, meet your students and meet you, too.
Thanks for all you do and please reach out at any time with any questions. I am always here for you!
Government Relations Director
Maine Education Association