We support community leaders by helping make their voices heard on the state and federal policy issues that affect our coastal and island communities. Our Policy team works with state legislators, department leaders, and other organizations to raise awareness of these issues and influence decision-making and long-term support for Maine.

Expanding access to broadband through increased state funding and improved state funding structures is our top policy priority and the importance of broadband is mentioned in almost all of our legislative testimony. For information about upcoming opportunities to support broadband policy, please sign up for the Maine Broadband Coalition and check out this blog post about the Coalition’s policy priorities.

In addition to broadband, please see below to learn more about our other policy priorities.

Priorities for Summer 2021

Land for Maine’s Future – Helping to preserve working waterfronts

Approved by both bodies of the Maine State Legislature on June 30, 2021.

The Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program includes funding to help preserve working waterfront infrastructure. This program has not been well funded, and proposals to provide multi-year funding to the LMF board would make it easier for fishermen and other working waterfront users to make plans for their businesses. We are very supportive of proposals to use at least 10% of bond funds for working waterfront properties. We also know that this program, even with funding, doesn’t fit every situation, and we are working with partners to identify and fill additional capacity needs to support projects in this sector.

This is the first time LMF has received significant funding in the State budget. Several proposals to provide bond funding for LMF were introduced during this session of the 130th Legislature.

Action items:

Learn more about why this program is important and what it means to Mainers:

Sea Level Rise

Legislative resolve approved by Governor Mills on June 16, 2021.

The Island Institute is working with partners from multiple different sectors to raise awareness of the imminent need to address rising seas. The Maine Climate Council recommends the State plans for 1.5 feet of relative sea level rise by 2050, and 3.9 feet of sea level rise by the year 2100.

The cost of inaction is high—with 1.5 ft of sea level rise by 2050, we can expect $17.5 billion in coastal damage and 21,000 coastal jobs lost (pg. 35 Maine Climate Council’s “Cost of Doing Nothing Analysis” by ERG).

Most recently, the Island Institute shared our newest A Climate of Change film, a short documentary on the work being done on Vinalhaven to address sea level rise, with Maine’s Coastal Caucus. We will continue to share the latest science and solutions for mitigating sea level rise in anticipation of a bill that will address what the science is telling us—that the time to act is now in order to mitigate the effects of sea level rise on our economy, towns and people.

Action items:

Maine Service Fellows

Legislation passed and signed by Governor Mills on June 7, 2021.

The Maine Service Fellows is a proposed state program of Volunteer Maine that will provide full-time, paid service opportunities to recent college graduates to address local unmet needs in rural Maine. This program will not only provide human resources to help communities respond to and recover from the pandemic but is a pathway for young adults to gain experience that will help develop their careers and put down roots in Maine.

Through our longstanding Island Fellows program, we have seen firsthand the tremendous impact that this type of partnership can have. The Island Institute has placed 135 Island Fellows in 27 rural communities over the course of 20 years and has witnessed the remarkable ripple effect that has come from a little bit of extra help and a fresh perspective. The Maine Fellows Service is an exciting opportunity to connect the next generation of Mainers who are eager to serve to the places they’re needed most. The proposed state program would scale a proven model and provide for meaningful collaboration that is essential to the growth and long-term resiliency of our state.

Action items:

  • Read ME LD1010, An Act To Establish the Maine Service Fellows Program, to learn more about the details of the program and how these fellows will provide rural and underserved communities in the state a resource to address critical health and human, public safety, education, and environmental needs.
  • Visit our Island Fellows pages to learn more about how our most recent group of Island Fellows made a difference in nine Maine communities. Then, watch for information on our new cohort of Fellows very soon!

Coming soon!

Check back for a list of testimonies submitted in past and current legislative sessions, a toolkit for how to submit your own testimony or appear at a hearing, how to write an Op-Ed about a policy issue, and more.