The 129th legislative session is underway in Augusta. MeBIC is supporting several bills that will help immigrants reach their highest potential here in Maine.
Representative Kristen Cloutier of Lewiston introduced LD 647, An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New State Residents to Strengthen the Workforce. This bill would increase funding specifically to expand English as a Second Language (ESL) capacity at municipal adult education programs; enable employers to seek funding to offer combined ESL and job skills classes at their worksites; expand welcome centers that work with immigrant professionals to assist them in getting into professional level employment; and provide small planning grants to communities with growing immigrant populations. MeBIC and several of our partners, including CEI and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, helped craft this bill, which was approved by both chambers last session but ultimately was not funded. We hope to get it across the finish line this session. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Two bills have been introduced addressing the barriers immigrants face for recognition of their education and experience acquired abroad that prevent them from gaining licensure in their fields in Maine. MeBIC submitted testimony supporting South Portland Representative Victoria Morales’ LD 532, Resolve, Directing Professional Licensing and Certifcation Boards to Study the Barriers to Obtaining Professional Licensing and Certification. MeBIC’s testimony was referred to in a Portland Press Herald article about the bill, and in their editorial addressing the need to reduce barriers to licensing facing these immigrants.
MeBIC will also support Topsham Representative Denise Tepler’s LD 769, Resolve, to Direct the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation to Create a Working Group to Study Credentialing Skilled Individuals with Foreign Credentials at its upcoming public hearing on March 5, 2019.
Additional bills that would improve immigrants’ ability to reach their full potential and contribute to their families, communities, and the workforce have been introduced but are not yet printed. MeBIC will provide further updates when they begin moving forward in the Legislature.
Contact MeBIC if you’d like more information on relevant bills or would like MeBIC’s help to submit testimony.