Updates From Augusta and Washington, DC

The Maine Legislature started their Second Regular Session on January 5. The League is tracking several carryover bills as the session begins. Major topics include criminal records and employment background checks, consumer data, and proposals to increase the threshold of salaried employees. Lawmakers will eventually consider a supplemental budget from Governor Mills. If budget projections stay on track, the debate in Augusta will be focused on how to spend over $800 million in surplus revenue. The Governor already has hinted that she would like to see some portion of that money go back to Maine taxpayers. The budget proposal won’t be out until after the Governor’s State of the State address at the end of January. According to statute, this legislative session should adjourn in the middle of April, but leaders can extend beyond that date if the workload requires them to do so.

Meanwhile in Congress, prior to the holiday recess Senator Manchin (D-West Virginia) withdrew his support for President Biden’s Build Back Better plan (BBB). The League and our colleagues around the country, including CUNA, have been watching the negotiations around the BBB plan closely as early proposals contained a mandate that would force financial institutions to report the inflows and outflows of nearly every individual bank account to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That proposal was removed in the version of the BBB plan that passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and supposedly doesn’t have enough support in the U.S. Senate. However, recent reports have suggested that negotiations may be restarting, which will require credit union leaders to continue their close monitoring of this situation.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise with the emergence of the Omicron variant, many are once again considering adaptations and restrictions to stay healthy and safe. At the State House, the Legislature will only meet twice during the month of January, and all committee work will be conducted virtually. Meanwhile in late February and early March, thousands of credit union advocates are planning to attend CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, DC. Your League is actively planning our Maine-based events, but we recognize there are concerns and judgement calls to be made about attending an in-person conference. Earlier this week, CUNA announced that all GAC attendees must be fully vaccinated by February 15, 2022 to comply with Washington, DC’s health requirements. Additional details around health guidelines, registrations, attending virtually, etc., will be coming out in the coming days. If you have questions, please reach to Robert Caverly or Kelley Souza at the League’s office for more details.