Volunteer Maine celebrates unanimous passage of legislation to create Maine Service Fellows, provide recommendations on Maine Climate Corps

Author:
Bryan Roche, communications officer

Photo of five individuals in a conference room for a ceremonial bill signing

Gov. Janet T. Mills (center, seated) signs "Resolve, To Study the Establishment of the Maine Climate Corps" into law during a June 30, 2021 ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, F. Celeste Branham, Immediate Past Chair of Volunteer Maine; Rep. Morgan Rielly (D - Westbrook); Maryalice Crofton, Volunteer Maine Executive Director; Rep. Lori Gramlich (D - Old Orchard Beach); and Hannah Pingree, Director, Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. Photo provided by Victoria Rodriguez, Legislative Aide, Maine House of Representatives.

Volunteer Maine, the state service commission, is excited to share that two service-driven pieces of legislation have been passed unanimously by the Maine House of Representatives and Senate. Both bills have now been signed into law by Governor Janet T. Mills.

LD 1010, "An Act To Establish the Maine Service Fellows Program", was signed on Thurs., June 10. The Maine Service Fellows program is a Maine-run service corps that will initially be tasked to help small, rural communities recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LD 722 , "Resolve, To Study the Establishment of the Maine Climate Corps", was made law on Tues, June 8. The outcome of the Resolve will be a report to help guide the creation of a Maine Climate Corps.

LD 1010: An Act To Establish the Maine Service Fellows Program

LD 1010 establishes the Maine Service Fellows program with funding through a public-private partnership. At least 10 service fellows will be part of the inaugural class.

Rep. Morgan Rielly (D - Westbrook) introduced legislation to create the program. Among the co-sponsors are Rep. Nathan Carlow (R - Buxton) and Rep. Sophia Warren (I - Scarborough). The three representatives united as the youngest Democrat, Republican and Independent in the Legislature to help champion the Maine Service Fellows program.

Sen. Joseph Baldacci (D - Penobscot), Rep. Kristen Cloutier (D - Lewiston), House Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D - Biddeford), Rep. Ann Matlack (D - St. George), Rep. Walter Riseman (I - Harrison), and Sen. Marianne Moore (R - Washington) are also co-sponsors of the bill.

The program is not an affiliate of AmeriCorps, but instead is modeled on the service corps of other states like Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Corps.

Maine Service Fellows will focus on small, rural communities struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. After the first three years, the emphasis will expand to other priorities in the given community.

Host communities will have simplified applications, reporting and financial management requirements compared to AmeriCorps.

Access the text of the bill on the Maine Legislature website -- click here.

LD 722: Resolve, To Study the Establishment of the Maine Climate Corps

LD 722 tasks Volunteer Maine with:

  1. studying and identifying projects and tasks in state agencies that could be made into service projects for citizens of the state; and
  2. recommending how best to structure the Maine Climate Corps which was proposed in the Maine Climate Council's climate action plan.

Rep. Rielly also sponsored and introduced LD 722. Rep. Lori Gramlich (D - Old Orchard Beach), Rep. Margaret O'Neil (D - Saco), Rep. Ralph Tucker (D - Brunswick), Sen. Stacy Brenner (D - Cumberland), and Sen. Anne Carney (D - Cumberland) are co-sponsors.

Volunteer Maine Commissioners and staff will conduct the study and prepare the final report, which is is due to the Legislature Sun., Jan 31, 2022.

Access the text of the bill on the Maine Legislature website -- click here.

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