Augusta – After receiving overwhelming public support, LD 2 – a bill that creates a mechanism to implement the use of racial impact statements during the legislative process – 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.
“When we approach policymaking intentionally, with consideration for all Mainers, we as lawmakers will be empowered to do our job well, and to make policy that benefits everyone,” Rep. Talbot Ross said. “With the use of racial impact statements, we can ensure that we have the impartial information we need to make the best possible decisions for our state — and those who come after us have this tool to do the same in the future.”
In part, LD 2 will create a pilot for the use of racial impact statements by the legislature in 2022. The pilot will then be used as the basis for implementing racial impact statements for legislation considered by future legislatures. Racial impact statements are a tool for identifying potential racial disparities that could result from proposed legislation. They provide lawmakers with information and data to help them consider the possible impacts of future laws on historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities.
Earlier this month, more than 100 people submitted testimony in support of LD 2 at a public hearing that lasted more than four hours.
The following statements can be attributed as noted:
Joby Thoyalil, Senior Policy Advocate, Maine Equal Justice (MEJ): "The racial disparities we see throughout various systems in Maine are the result of a complex set of factors, including past and current unfair laws and policies. Lawmakers have a significant role in not only working to undo the effects of structural racism in our laws, but to also prevent further harm as they consider new laws. They also have the opportunity to be proactive with policies that intentionally work to reduce existing disparities. But to do any of this, they need access to the information that LD 2 seeks to provide."
James Myall, Policy Analyst, Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP): “At its core, LD2 is about evidence-based policymaking. Its primary purpose is to give lawmakers the information they need to make sound decisions. This bill is based on a simple premise: Racial disparities in Maine are real, and can be exacerbated or improved by policy. The same way we assess spending bills to determine their impact on state finances or assess new infrastructure to see how it would affect our environment, we can and should rate legislation for how it would help or hinder racial justice.”
Alison Beyea, Executive Director, ACLU of Maine: “All lawmaking interacts with historical racial inequities. Unless legislators are vigilant and intentional about their lawmaking, we will keep cementing these inequities. To be vigilant and intentional, policymakers need data. Racial impact statements are a tool to get this data, so that lawmakers can legislate more fairly, more justly and more wisely.”
Whitney Parrish, Advocacy and Communications Director, Health Equity Alliance (HEAL): “Health disparities by race and ethnicity are striking and ripple throughout our communities and are felt for generations. As service providers and advocates, we see this every day in our work with people who are impacted by the opioid overdose death crisis and AIDS epidemic. We believe the use of racial impact statements in policy development and analysis is a critical step forward in closing health equity gaps and ensuring good, just, and equitable personal and public health outcomes for all Mainers and our communities.”
Adam Goode, Legislative and Political Director, Maine AFL-CIO: “The Maine AFL-CIO is committed to supporting policies that build worker power and dismantle structural and institutional racism. We recognize that LD 2 is one step toward advancing racial justice in Maine. While it will not end racism, the use of racial impact statements as a tool to address racial disparities through lawmaking will have a significant and long-lasting impact.”
Jane Field, Executive Director, Maine Council of Churches: “Analyzing the racial impact of bills as they are drafted would help minimize or even eliminate unintended negative consequences for Maine’s communities of color. It would help our legislature to produce better, more effective, more just policies and laws. I know that is a goal we all share.”