October 27, 2017
AUGUSTA – Among the bills that the Legislature will consider in the upcoming session is “An Act To Restore Maine's School-based Health Centers,” submitted by Rep. Jim Handy, D-Lewiston. If successful, the bill would restore the 15 school based health clinics that lost funding in July. Four of the affected clinics are based in Lewiston and Auburn.
“These clinics provide a vital service to the kids in their communities,” said Handy. “I am going to fight to make sure we reverse this cut. Balancing a budget on the backs of our kids is not acceptable.”
The bulk of funding for the clinics was provided through the Fund for a Healthy Maine as well as federal matching dollars through the Maternal Child Health Services Block Grant. In his biennial budget proposal, Governor LePage eliminated funding for FHM. Democrats pushed to restore $10 million to the fund but were only able to secure $5 million in the final budget. The Department of Health and Human Services, which controls the fund, notified the clinics that they would lose FHM funding as a result of those cuts. The loss of FHM dollars also eliminated the matching block grant funds.
During even-numbered years, the Legislature generally limits bill submissions to those that address emergencies and other pressing situations. The Legislative Council, which is made up of each party’s leaders in the Maine House and Senate, decides which bills fit the criteria.
In a vote of 6-4, the Legislative Council voted to approve Handy’s bill request to be heard during the Second Session of the 128th Legislature. The council approved 63 bills out of the 268 that were considered on Wednesday.
Rep. Handy is serving his sixth non-consecutive term in the Maine House. He has also previously served Lewiston in the Maine Senate and 18 consecutive years on the Lewiston School Committee. He is on the board of directors at Literacy Volunteers–Androscoggin and SeniorsPlus.
Lindsay Crete [Handy], cell 231-1442