Update from Augusta
I am excited to announce that, this past Friday night, we passed a state budget with bipartisan support.
When I knocked on doors and when I took the oath of office to serve as your representative this session, I promised to push for a budget that would expand health care coverage, lift up working Maine families, support our schools, improve broadband access and provide meaningful property tax relief. No budget funds everything, but I am confident this budget addresses these concerns and our most pressing needs.
I was particularly proud that we were able to provide $130 million in property tax relief for homeowners, families, seniors and small businesses. We increased the Homestead Exemption by $5,000 up to $25,000, we expanded eligibility for the Property Tax Fairness Credit to include an additional 13,000 Mainers and we increased revenue sharing to 3% in 2020 and 3.75% in 2021. We heard how important property tax relief is for Mainers, and we fought hard to help. While we are not yet back to the full 5% that we need, I will take the gains we achieved this year and continue to work toward our ultimate goal.
For me, another highlight was allocating an additional $111 million for K-12 public education to support our teachers and students. And, of course, I was so glad to put $125 million towards MaineCare expansion that will be matched by $700 million in federal funds.
Importantly, we did all this within our financial means, and still have money going into our “Rainy Day” fund.
I’ve included an overview of the budget below, and am happy to speak to any of you about your questions or concerns.
Joyce "Jay" McCreight
Serving District 51
FY 2020-2021 total spending
The budget distributes $7.98 billion from the General Fund over the next two years and adds $18 million to the Budget Stabilization, or “Rainy Day,” fund.
Property tax relief
The budget allocates $130 million in property tax relief for Mainers, including seniors, families and small businesses. We are:
In order to make health care more affordable and more accessible, we are:
Investing in Maine workers, young adults and children
To advance workforce training and higher education, we are:
To support K-12 public education, we are:
Looking to the future
To improve our infrastructure, energy, climate and planning, we are:
June 12, 2019
In my updates to you this session, I’ve talked about the 2,000 plus bills we’ve been considering and the committee work we’ve been doing to send our best ideas to the full Legislature. There’s still a lot of work to be done even as we get closer to adjourning for the year, but we’ve had some huge successes.
In just the last month plus, we became the first state in the nation to ban polystyrene (Styrofoam), a big step in protecting our environment. Additionally, bills phasing in a ban on single-use plastic bags and prohibiting offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters are both on the governor’s desk.
We passed bills to protect minimum wage gains, strengthen workers’ rights, increase transparency in insurance companies, improve teacher evaluation by ending the use of student test scores in the review process, expand access to solar power and broadband, strengthen campaign ethics laws, and end the harmful practice of conversion therapy – a measure I proudly co-sponsored.
We also passed a major bill to increase vaccination rates and protect public health. And we made two major strides to repair our broken relationship with Maine’s native tribes by changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and banning the use of Native American mascots in schools.
Finally, there are clear signs that the next state budget will include property tax relief and a greater share of Maine’s income and sales tax revenue going to cities and towns – something I know is important to all three towns I represent.
This year, I’ve put forward over 25 bills to address the needs of our district and our entire state. Several are now law. Many others have passed through the lawmaking process but are awaiting key funding decisions that are expected in the next week or so. Those bills involve important policies such as expanding access to health care, expanding access to quality early childhood education and special education services, addressing the deadly opioid crisis, improving school bus safety, and restoring critical services for children in need and for Mainers with disabilities. Several bills are “carried over to next year” to allow us to continue to work on them. These include a bills to assist older adults in navigating their housing needs, another to address the need for increased behavioral health services for children, and one to continue work to address the complicated and controversial issue of access to the lobster fishery.
I’m proud to let you know that the governor signed my bills to increase the accountability of private electric utility companies to address power outages after a major storm (remember October 2017?) and another to empower towns to expand access to broadband. She also signed my bill to help lobstermen with serious illness or injury continue to earn a living, and my bill to clarify that municipalities may charge a small fee for the work required to evaluate aquaculture licenses and leases while making it clear that this is optional and must be no more than $50. The governor has also signed a number of other bills I sponsored as House Chair of the Marine Resources Committee to strengthen Maine’s fisheries.
I feel fortunate every day to hold this office, and I hope you are as excited as I am about the progress we are making in Augusta.
As always, please be in touch with any questions, concerns or ideas.
Joyce "Jay" McCreight
Serving District 51
Rep. Jay McCreight’s bill LD 820, “An Act to Prohibit Discrimination in Public & Private Insurance Coverage for Pregnant Women” has passed in both houses and has a few more procedural hurdles, but should be headed for Gov. Mills’ signature soon!
The Senate voted 18-17 to accept the House version of the bill LD 798, “An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirement” with no religious exemptions. The bill now has a few more procedural hurdles, but should be headed for Gov. Mills’ desk soon!
Sen. Brownie Carson’s bill LD 640, “Resolve, To Require a Study of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions from the Proposed Central Maine Power Company Transmission Corridor”. The Senate passed the bill 30-4 and it will go to the House as soon as this coming week.
On May 14, the Senate voted 19-16 to pass LD 816, "An Act To Implement the National Popular Vote for President of the United States."
March 21, 2019
It’s spring, and you can feel new energy entering the State House.
Every day we welcome hundreds of visitors – student groups learning how government works, citizens being honored by our Legislature, community members here to testify at public hearings and more. It means so much to me to meet and hear from these individuals. It reminds me, once again, how lucky I am to serve as your state representative. It is truly an honor.
I am proud to report that the Legislature is working collaboratively and diligently. We’ve already moved about half of our 2,000 bills into committees, where they are being thoroughly discussed, re-worked and considered.
There’s been significant progress on a few issues I’m working on in particular. Along with a Harpswell constituent, I presented a bill to improve school bus safety which received a unanimous vote in the Transportation Committee.
Another constituent raised a question about expired marine flares and how to safely dispose of them. That led to a three-year quest, the work of many interested groups and collaboration with the State Fire Marshall – all culminating in a unanimous “ought to pass” vote in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
A third bill, also inspired by constituents’ concerns, proposes to reestablish a regular system of mapping of eelgrass all along the coastline – so important to our marine environment. This bill also received a unanimous “ought to pass,” this time in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
There are several more hurdles to jump over to get these bills and others I’m working on to the finish line, but these votes are a huge step on way to getting us there.
I continue to serve as House Chair of the Marine Resources Committee where we are charged with addressing issues important to our fisheries and our marine environment - lobster and shellfish resources, aquaculture, effects of climate changes on the ocean, to name a few. I also serve on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Bills related to elections, veterans issues, lotteries and liquor sales are the focus of this committee.
As this session continues, please reach out to share your questions or perspectives. I look forward to the continued new energy each State House visitor, and each of you, brings me.
March 7, 2019
Representative Jay McCreight's bill to provide a way for safe marine flare disposal unanimously passed a committee vote. To read the Maine Public Radio story, click here:
February 27, 2019
It’s the second month of session here in Augusta, and the 129th Legislature is already moving at top speed.
With roughly 2,000 bills submitted, the entirety of Gov. Mills’ cabinet confirmed and her budget proposed, we have shifted into the core of our work – debating bills and vocalizing the needs and wishes of you and our neighbors.
While we will be addressing concerns and ideas across hundreds of topics, our work this session will focus largely around a few key areas. The House Democrats will be steadfast in our pursuit to provide an exceptional education to children of all ages, we will push to lower property taxes and we will remain committed to increasing access to affordable health care.
This session I am again honored to serve on two committees of the Legislature. I’m serving as House Chair of the Marine Resources Committee and as a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA). Both are joint standing committees with bi-partisan membership.
The Marine Resources Committee addresses proposals related to our Marine Patrol; commercial and recreational marine fisheries management, licensing and enforcement; marine science and research; shellfish sanitation and management; and aquaculture.
VLA is new committee for me and a welcome opportunity to learn more about these areas of policy. Our responsibilities include a wide range of issues including elections laws, Veterans and Emergency Services, campaign financing and Clean Elections, voter registration, governmental ethics, voter registration; initiatives and referenda, games of chance and liquor sales.
As always, please let me know if I can assist you any issues with state government. And if you’re interested in visiting the Statehouse or if you have a child or grandchild interested in being an Honorary Page for a day, just let me know.
Joyce "Jay" McCreight
Serving District 51
Want an extra payday?
Each year, tens of millions of dollars go unclaimed in Maine. These financial assets are turned over by national and local businesses and organizations that lose contact with the rightful owners of the funds. The State Treasurer holds these assets until claimed by the owner or heir.
This year alone, nearly $25 million in unclaimed property was added to the Treasurer’s database. Find out if any of these funds belong to you, your business, your friends or your family by visiting: www.maineunclaimedproperty.gov
Find help with your tax returns
It’s time to think about tax returns, and CA$H Maine may be a helpful resource in your filing. CA$H Maine is a collaboration of organizations across the state that work together to provide free tax preparation and other financial services for Mainers who meet income requirements. For more information and to find out about services in our area, visitwww.cashmaine.org.
We're addressing the opioid crisis
On Feb. 6, Gov. Mills signed an executive order directing immediate action to combat the opioid epidemic in Maine. Two pieces of the executive order are the results of work done by lawmakers last session. Rep. Patricia Hymanson, D-York, led the charge to create a prevention and recovery cabinet, which will oversee many of the actions initiated by the executive order. Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, led a task force that urged the creation of a working group to evaluate and develop prevention programs for school-aged children.
For more information and the full executive order, visit:https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-signs-executive-order-directing-immediate-action-combat-opioid-epidemic-2019-02
You may now be eligible for MaineCare
More Maine residents are now eligible for Medicaid health insurance, also called MaineCare. As of Feb. 8, 4,515 individuals have received coverage because of Medicaid expansion. If you are between the ages of 19 and 64, you may qualify. To fill out an application and determine your eligibility, visit www.maine.gov/mymaineconnection.
Joyce “Jay” McCreight, State Representative
Harpswell, West Bath, East Brunswick