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Maine State Chamber of Commerce & Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Oppose LD 1964

Updated: May 24, 2023


A public hearing for LD 1964 will be held tomorrow, May 25th at 1pm before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee at the State House in Augusta.


According to the following post from the Maine State Chamber, they'll be present in person tomorrow to testify in opposition of the bill because it does not meet the criterion of working for both employees and employers.


Other organizations also testifying in opposition Thursday will include the Retail Association of Maine, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Maine, HospitalityMaine, and more.


The State Chamber's concerns for Maine's small businesses include the following:

  • A New $400 Million Wage Tax – The 2022 Paid FMLA Task Force noted in a commission report that a proposal similar to the one outlined in this bill would cost nearly $400M annually, funded through a new payroll tax on employers and employees.

  • Potential for Annual Tax Hikes – The bill requires the Program Administrator to annually increase the tax amount on employer payrolls and employee wages if the program doesn’t have sufficient funds for administration and benefit costs.

  • 12 Weeks of Leave – L.D. 1964 will allow for up to 12 weeks annually of paid family and medical leave for all Maine employees, which can be stacked up to 24 weeks/6 months in certain instances.

  • Worsens the Workforce Shortage Crisis – The workforce shortage crisis shows no signs of rebounding anytime soon. 3-month paid absences from the workplace would provide no certainty to employers trying to secure stable staffing levels. Maine’s seasonal businesses could see employee absences for as long as 75% of their entire operating season and will likely need to offer job protections.

  • Significant New Burden for Small Businesses – Thousands of small employers with fewer than 15 workers will for the first time ever be required to provide long-term leave to their employees. These small businesses will lose the longstanding protection provided for decades by Maine’s existing family and medical leave law.

  • Prone to Misuse - The average Maine earner only needs 6 weeks’ worth of earnings over the course of a year to qualify for 12 weeks of leave annually. Employees could qualify for leave for anyone they consider having “like a family relationship”, regardless of actual blood or familial relation. This would be 100% subjective.

  • An Outlier in Many Respects – Only 11 states have a PFML program. L.D. 1964 essentially creates a new short-term disability insurance program, and what would be one of the most benefit-rich programs in the country. Instead, Maine could consider extending the state’s existing FML program or proposing a bill that is more in line with neighboring New England states.


We also received the following email from the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, which also opposes the bill.


Advocacy Alert: Paid Family Medical Leave Bill Up for a Hearing Thursday Afternoon Make Your Voice Heard!

Legislation establishing a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program is now confirmed for a public hearing before the Committee on Labor and Housing this Thursday, May 25th at 1PM. As we laid out last week, LD 1964, An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Develop a Paid Family Medical Leave Benefits Program, represents the largest change to Maine's employment landscape in decades, and we are urging our members to have your voice heard on this legislation. This is an employee benefit program which would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave and would institute a tax on both the employee and employer. At this time, we are opposed to the legislation, because it does not adequately address the concerns our members have expressed about the bill. However, we do intend to come to the public hearing with actionable compromise proposals for the committee to consider. Concerns raised by our members include:

  • Significant New Burden for Small Businesses – Thousands of small employers with fewer than 15 workers will for the first time ever be required to provide long-term leave to their employees. These small businesses will lose the longstanding protection provided for decades by Maine’s existing family and medical leave law and the exemption process outlined in the sponsor's amendment is poorly defined and involves a lengthy and expensive appeals process for small businesses.

  • A New $400 Million Wage Tax – The 2022 Paid FMLA Task Force noted in a commission report that a proposal similar to the one outlined in this bill would cost nearly $400M annually, funded through a new payroll tax on employers and employees. However, we do not currently have a fiscal note or actuarial analysis to determine the cost of the modified proposal.

  • Potential for Annual Tax Hikes– The bill requires the Program Administrator to annually increase the tax amount on employer payrolls and employee wages if the program doesn’t have sufficient funds for administration and benefit costs.

  • Worsens the Workforce Shortage Crisis – The workforce shortage crisis shows no signs of rebounding anytime soon. 3-month paid absences from the workplace would provide no certainty to employers trying to secure stable staffing levels. Maine’s seasonal businesses could see employee absences for as long as 75% of their entire operating season and will likely need to offer job protections.

  • Prone to Misuse - The average Maine earner only needs 6 weeks’ worth of earnings over the course of a year to qualify for 12 weeks of leave annually. This is far removed from the current eligibility requirements in Maine's existing family and medical leave law of one continuous year of service with a particular employer. Employees could qualify for leave for anyone they consider having “like a family relationship”, regardless of actual blood or familial relation. This would be 100% subjective.

  • An Outlier in Many Respects – Only 11 states have a Paid FMLA program. This bill is not an extension of the state’s existing FMLA law either—it creates a new short-term disability insurance program. Proponents could have written a bill that is more in line with neighboring New England states, which may have garnered more than partisan support; instead, this proposal is one of the most benefit-rich programs in the country.

As businesses will be greatly impacted by this legislation, it is important your voices are heard and that your are reflected in the deliberations. Here are the ways you can weigh in for Thursday afternoon's public hearing:

Testify In Person at the State House

  • The public hearing will begin at 1pm in the Labor Committee room located on the second floor of the Burton Cross Building directly behind the State House.

  • There will likely be a sign-up sheet outside the committee room. The committee may stick to their usual procedure of hearing testimony in favor, followed by testimony in opposition, followed by testimony neither for nor against, or they may switch between the various sides in 30 minute blocks.

  • You will likely be limited to three minutes of testimony.

  • If you are reading from written testimony, you must bring 20 copies of your written testimony to be distributed to the committee.

  • After giving your testimony you may be asked questions by the committee. You can do your best to answer, or you can follow-up with the committee at a later date if you do not have an answer.

Testify Remotely via Zoom

  • If you cannot make it to Augusta, you can also testify remotely via Zoom.

  • Do note that the chairs may hold Zoom testimony until after all in-person testimony, so it could take several hours to get to those testifying via Zoom.

  • To register to testify via Zoom go to this link.

  • Click "Public Hearing".

  • Choose the Labor and Housing Committee.

  • Chose May 25, 2023 as the date.

  • Chose LD 1964 as the bill.

  • Check the box "I would like to testify electronically over Zoom".

  • Select if you are testifying for the legislation, against it, or neither for nor against it.

  • Attach a file or paste the text of the written testimony you wish to read from.

  • Enter your contact information, click "I am not a robot" and click submit.

  • You will be emailed a confirmation email and an email with the Zoom link.

  • Make sure to login to Zoom on the hearing day under the name you registered with so the committee chair can call on you when it is your turn.

Submit Testimony in Writing

  • To submit written testimony go to this link.

  • Click "Public Hearing".

  • Choose the Labor and Housing Committee.

  • Chose May 25, 2023 as the date.

  • Chose LD 1964 as the bill.

  • Attach the file or paste the text of your written testimony.

  • Enter your contact information, click "I am not a robot" and click submit.

We encourage you to reach out to us by emailing our Director of Advocacy, Eamonn Dundon, at edundon@portlandregion.com with your comments, questions, and concerns.

Best, Quincy Hentzel President & CEO


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