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Maine Senate advancements invoice to offer cost-free foods to all pupils

The Maine Senate voted Monday to offer you no cost breakfast and lunch to all faculty college students regardless of earnings, which supporters say will enhance nutrition and training results when decreasing stigma.

In a bipartisan 33- vote, the Senate gave initial acceptance to a invoice that would give meals to any K-12 student at no cost. At the moment, approximately 44 per cent of Maine’s 180,000 public university college students qualify for absolutely free or minimized breakfast and lunch because their household incomes tumble inside of federal poverty pointers.

The bill’s guide sponsor, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, recalled listening to from an Aroostook County senior who contacted him after she was not in a position to get her cap and gown mainly because of an exceptional lunch bill that she could not afford to pay for to fork out. Jackson also stated he was struck by observing so lots of coolers put at the conclude of driveways in his district so students could go on to receive totally free foods for the duration of the pandemic, which manufactured clear to him the extent of the want for the software.

“This is probably a single of the most effective bills that I have ever been concerned with because I know how substantially it will signify to all of our constituents,” Jackson said of the evaluate, L.D. 1679.

The Maine Division of Education and learning, which supported the initiative, mentioned delivering a absolutely free breakfast to students charges the point out and federal governing administration about $2.00 per meal although a lunch fees $3.70 for each pupil. The bill carries an believed charge of $34 million to the point out annually, in accordance to a nonpartisan fiscal evaluation of the laws.

Sen. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta, argued that it would be dollars nicely invested.

Pouliot recalled how he and his sister relied on foods stamps when they were being increasing up as his mom worked two positions and experimented with to set herself by means of school. Had it not been for federal government foodstuff support plans, Pouliot mentioned, “I never know what we would have had for lunch in university.”

While Pouliot reported he’s commonly heard opinions that absolutely free foods should only be obtainable to learners from reduce-profits families, he also reported there is a authentic stigma linked with the minimized and no cost lunch packages. All through a public listening to held on the monthly bill previous thirty day period, several pupils testified about skipping meals or not getting gain of cost-free or decreased-price lunches due to the fact of humiliation or bullying.

“What we are conversing about right here is prioritizing these sources to make guaranteed that our youngsters, in the K-12 process throughout the state of Maine, are becoming fed,” claimed Pouliot, the assistant minority leader in the Maine Senate. “We make investments $3 billion a 12 months in general public instruction in this state, amongst state and federal resources, and if little ones are hungry, they just cannot provide their greatest head to that academic working experience. So I hope my colleagues will see this is a wise financial investment with a important return.”

The invoice now goes to the Maine Home for thought.

Also Monday in the Legislature:

• The Home turned down a evaluate that would established up a independent point out department for little one welfare. The Senate approved the invoice on a vote of 21-14 previous week, but in a unanimous voice vote the House rejected the invoice. The evaluate will face more votes in both chambers.

• The Home also approved a invoice that would maximize the authentic estate transfer tax on home gross sales of additional than $1 million. Under the monthly bill, the transfer tax would go from $2.20 for every $1,000 of a worth to $2.70 per $1,000. The believed $1.7 million raise in income would be generally directed to the Maine Housing Authority to develop affordable housing, leveraging federal funding at an 11:1 match. Republicans opposed the invoice, stating it would discourage the wealthy from moving to Maine or acquiring property listed here. The invoice will experience extra votes in the Senate afterwards this 7 days.

• A invoice to have to have the College of Maine Procedure to study the impacts of switching Maine from the Jap Conventional Time zone to the Atlantic Time Zone was also at first approved in the point out Senate on Monday. Switching zones has been a perennial discussion in the Legislature, with opponents expressing it would only perform properly if other New England states have been to be part of Maine in the move. New Hampshire and Massachusetts are also looking at a change to Atlantic Time.

• Also, in a sequence of social gathering-line votes, the greater part Property Democrats rejected a pair of charges that would have essential image identification for voters in Maine.

• The Senate voted 19-14 to approve a monthly bill that would prohibit aerial spraying of glyphosate or other artificial herbicides in timber and forestry operations. Timberland homeowners and supervisors have historically utilized glyphosate – the main lively component in the herbicide RoundUp – and other herbicides to regulate undesirable plant species in get to allow for for better advancement of economically useful species. While the manufacturer of glyphosate, Bayer AG, as very well as federal regulators, say it is protected, the organization also agreed to pay out $9.6 billion final year to settle lawsuits declaring that the chemical brought on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a kind of cancer, and has because agreed to established apart $2 billion for long run conditions.

• One more invoice, L.D. 155, banning the use of pesticides containing specified neonicotinoids on lawns and in landscaping has been given ultimate acceptance in both equally the Home and Senate. The bill directs the Board of Pesticide Handle to prohibit the substances, also recognised as neonics, since they are poisonous to bees, butterflies and other important pollinator species.


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