Sen. Chip Curry

It’s been an incredibly full and invigorating month of June. The Legislature returned to the State House, and I had my first session in the Senate Chamber. It was humbling to sit at my desk and represent you.

After long days and longer nights, we were able to wrap up our work for a bit. Maine has a citizen Legislature, which results in our being in session for roughly half the year, and most of us have families and full-time jobs as well. Working through the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting to keep us all safe was important and a huge lift. I want to express my thanks for my colleagues and staff, and all of you who reached out to share your opinions on the issues this session. We’ve done so much work in the last 30 days, and I want to share with you some of our accomplishments.

We passed a bill from Senate President Jackson, LD 1679, that provides free school meals for all children. Maine ranks highest in New England for child food insecurity, which is when someone is unsure when or where their next meal will be. This bill will help combat that, ensuring that hunger is not a barrier to learning.

We also passed a bill, LD 17, from Sen. Chloe Maxmin that would expand transportation in rural Maine for non-medical purposes for adults receiving benefits through MaineCare. A lack of transportation is frequently cited as one of the biggest factors leading to poor health outcomes in rural communities. Taking active steps to encourage livable communities and positive health outcomes is what I’m here to do.

While I am very proud of my colleagues, I want to also take a moment to highlight some of bills I sponsored during my first term. Notably, three bills related to workforce development, the first of which is LD 814, “Resolve, Directing the Maine Community College System To Evaluate the Need To Expand Workforce Training Options in Waldo County.” I hear a lot from people here in Waldo County about how hard it is to find good-paying jobs, while I also hear from employers about how difficult it is to find qualified, committed candidates.

This feels like a catch-22 for our small businesses and our workers. I worked with the community college system on this bill so that we can discover innovative ways to bring to their programs to the county to prepare people for careers in the trades, health care, and our heritage industries like shipbuilding. I’m excited to announce that Gov. Janet Mills signed this bill into law, so we can get started on exploring what options exist.

As many of you know, workforce development is one of my top priorities. That is why I also sponsored LD 241, “An Act To Support the Trades through a Tax Credit for Apprenticeship Programs.” Apprenticeships are often the most affordable option for adults to transition to high-wage, in-demand jobs because they earn a paycheck while they learn. This bill gives employers a $2,500 tax credit for employing an apprentice for 2,000 hours or more during a taxable year, and a partial credit if the apprentice works fewer than 2,000 hours.

We need an additional 75,000 people in our workforce by 2030. We need durable workforce development models to support our future needs. This program not only encourages a supply of apprenticeship programs, but also rewards those already investing in job training for their crafts. LD 241 provides yet another tool to encourage the next generation to live, work and raise a family in Maine. LD 241 is currently in the hands of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, where it awaits funding.

Another bill I’m particularly proud of is LD 374, “An Act To Allow Veterans, Active Duty Service Members and Their Spouses To Apply for Temporary Occupational Licenses.” This bill makes it easier for veterans, active-duty service members and their families to live and work in Maine.

Too often when families are relocated, military spouses with licensed careers must reapply for the license in-state, take additional courses or exams and pay fees. This places an undue burden on military families and doesn’t help grow Maine’s workforce. LD 374 simply allows for veterans, active-duty members, and their families that have similar licenses from other states to obtain a temporary license and work while they earn Maine’s certifications. It’s a simple bill that can really help working families. I’m thrilled to say Gov. Janet Mills signed this bill in to law, helping our veterans and their families.

While I never imagined that this was how my first session as your state senator would be, I am excited and motivated to expand and continue fighting for Mainers, listening to your concerns, and trying to make Maine an even better place to live and work. I want to thank you all for selecting me to represent you in Senate District 11 and look forward to all that is coming.

If you ever have any comments or questions, you can reach out to me at chip.curry@legislature.maine.gov or via phone to my office at 287-1515. I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter at mainesenate.org and check my Facebook page, Senator Chip Curry, for additional updates.

Glenn “Chip” Curry, D-Belfast, represents residents of Waldo County in the Maine Senate.

filed under: