LD 2, also titled, “An Act to Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process” was passed to be enacted into law in the state of Maine on March 12. This law will require lawmakers to consider the racial impacts that proposed laws will have on historically oppressed minority groups by using racial impact statements. According to maineequaljustice.org, “A Racial Impact Statement is [a] systematic analysis of how historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups would be affected by a proposed policy.”
The law was sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, who is currently serving her third term in the Maine House of Representatives. This law will give policy creators in the Maine legislature important information and data. This is so they can make informed decisions about how proposed laws would be implemented, and how those laws would impact minority groups. The law’s implementation in 2023 will be dependent on the progress of a pilot program over the next year. This pilot program will examine a series of laws proposed in 2022.”
The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), a nonpartisan organization founded in 1994 that advocates for economic equality and well-being for middle-class and low-income people in the state of Maine, fully supports the LD 2 legislation. MECEP feels that the law would be impactful, citing how mandatory minimum sentencing on drug laws disproportionately affects Black Mainers. The organization also shared its belief that certain areas of Maine’s wage and hour laws are preventing some jobs from allowing overtime and minimum wage guarantees. Statistically these jobs are more likely to be held by people of a racial minority group. If the provisions stemming from LD 2 were in place when these laws were created, it is likely that lawmakers would have noticed these disparities due to their specific education on these issues.
“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,” the Maine Center for Economic Policy website claims.
Overall, the organization pledged its support of LD 2 because they believe it is the fair and equitable thing for Maine to do.
“MECEP supports this bill because it is a powerful tool for building a stronger, fairer economy for all Mainers — Black, brown, and white alike,” MECEP shares on their website.
Maine would not be the only state to have racial impact statements in their legislative system. Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, Minnesota, Florida and Iowa all have similar laws like LD 2 on the books. The legislation exists to try and understand the ramifications of proposed legislation instead of trying to make amends after a harmful law has already been passed.