The Maine State Legislature next year will consider establishing a “Civil Rights Unit” to educate the public on hate and bias following approval by the Legislative Council of a bill from House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland).
The proposal, which is only a draft at this point, states “This bill would establish a civil rights unit within the Office of the Attorney General to provide public education on issues regarding hate and bias.”
Talbot Ross previously served as the director of equal opportunity and multicultural affairs in Portland, a position she left after an altercation with a parking attendant.
The Speaker’s proposal is listed among the other requests evaluated by the Legislative Council on Thursday under the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety, specifically Assault.
The proposal passed with six yes votes, and three votes against.
The vote was split along party lines, with the Republicans voting against the proposal, and Democrats voting for it.
House Republican leader, Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R- Winter Harbor) who is a member of the Legislative Committee, was absent from the voting on Thursday.
Talbot Ross also sponsored a proposal to allow noncitizens of Maine to receive MaineCare Coverage.
That bill would appropriate $15,000,000 of taxpayer money for that purpose annually, though the real cost could be far higher.
MaineCare is Maine’s version of Medicaid.
The proposal, as read at the Legislative Council meeting, makes no mention of allowing non-citizens to receive MaineCare.
The comment on the proposal, however, clarifies the bill’s meaning.
“This bill would provide MaineCare coverage for noncitizen residents of Maine who are
parents or caretaker relatives with qualifying low incomes and who are ineligible for
MaineCare coverage due to their immigration status. This bill would provide a
$15,000,000 annual appropriation for this purpose.”
Talbot Ross’s proposal failed with bipartisan opposition.
Senate President Troy D. Jackson (D-Aroostook) and Sen. Eloise A. Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) opposed giving noncitizens MaineCare.
That bill failed in July, despite the Speaker’s support.