UPDATE: After receiving overwhelming public support, LD 2 is moving forward in the Legislature. Members of the Committee on State and Local Government today voted 7-5 to pass the bill with minor amendments presented by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland. The bill will now go to the House floor for a vote. 

Maine is not immune from systemic racism. Laws and policies that have an unequal effect on historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups are part of systemic racism. Often, these laws are “race neutral” – meaning the language of the laws does not explicitly mention racial groups. However, the laws have an unequal racial impact when they are implemented.

To undo systemic racism, lawmakers need to know whether a bill may create racial disparities before it becomes law. Racial impact statements are a tool to help legislators do this.

LD 2 sets up a process to review legislation to see what impact it would have on historically disadvantaged racial populations. In part, the bill would allow legislative committees to ask for, and receive, data necessary to assess a bill’s potential impact on racial and ethnic minorities. 

Sponsors

Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross

Session

130

Bill number

Position

Support

1. ACLU of Maine Testimony Supporting LD 2

Q.ACLU of Maine Testimony Supporting LD 2
A.

On Feb. 3, 2021, the ACLU of Maine offered testimony supporting LD 2. It read, in part:

"LD 2 is an important step in our journey to creating a more just and equal Maine. The racial disparities we see in housing, employment, education, health care, wealth, poverty, and interactions with the criminal legal system
— and in every aspect of life — are not an accident.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has made evident the other — and even more persistent — epidemic of racism. For a time, Maine had the largest racial disparity for COVID-19 infection in the country.

"Black, indigenous and other people of color only represent about five percent of the state’s population, but last summer, they represented almost one third of those who tested positive for COVID-19. Perhaps this statistic best illustrates the twin epidemics of COVID-19 and of racism."

Read the ACLU of Maine's entire testimony.

2. Portland Press Herald Editorial Supporting LD 2

Q.Portland Press Herald Editorial Supporting LD 2
A.

The following appeared on the Portland Press Herald editorial page:

"Undeniable racial disparities exist in education, housing, income, health care and criminal justice. Laws and government programs that aim to be race-neutral can make the disparities worse.

What’s at work is a system of racial advantage and handicap that is built into our institutions, and often perpetuated by well-intentioned people who honestly believe that they hold no hatred in their hearts.

Mainers who are alive today did not build this system, but we have an obligation fix it if we want to live up to the state constitution’s promise. L.D. 2, An Act to Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process, is a small step in that direction. The Legislature should pass this bill so future lawmakers will not be “color blind,” but do their work with their eyes wide open."

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