LD 2 signed into law
UPDATE: Governor Janet Mills signed LD 2 into law.

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

Status

Signed by governor

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."

Continue reading here.

3. LD 2 Talking Points

Q.LD 2 Talking Points
A.

Want to contact your lawmakers about supporting LD 2 but not sure what to say? Here are some simple talking points for your to choose from.

Maine is not immune from systemic racism.

Laws and policies that have an unequal racial effect 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.

Statistics you can use:

  • Black Mainers account for eight percent of all drug arrests, even though they represent less than two percent of the total population. When broken down even further, Black folks are charged with a fifth of the most serious drug crimes, which carry the harshest penalties. [Source: CSG Report]
     
  • In June, Maine had the largest racial disparity in the nation for COVID infections. Black Mainers accounted for about a quarter of all positive COVID cases, even though they represent less than two percent of the total Maine population. [Source: Press Herald]
     
  • One third of Black Mainers live below the poverty line. Almost a third of Indigenous people live below the poverty line. But only 11 percent of White Mainers live below the poverty. [Source: 2019 Five Year Estimates ACS Data]

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

I hope you support LD 2 as a commitment to undoing systemic racism.