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.
Learn more about why this program is important and what it means to Mainers:
- Read this op-ed from the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
- Read testimony from the public hearing on April 26th about the importance of the LMF program:
- Visit the Land for Maine’s Program page to learn more, and sign up for updates to this program. The Land for Maine’s Future Coalition page also has additional information.
- Learn more about specific needs of working waterfronts, particularly discrete working waterfronts in this 2020 report from the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
- Dive in deep—check out the work of the Land Conservation Task Force, their final report from 2019, and the 2017 LMF Workbook that helps guide potential applicants through this process.
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.
- Read the recently passed legislative resolve setting out clear state policy and need to consider forward looking sea level rise scenarios in the administration of the state’s laws and regulations.
- Watch A Climate of Change: Sea Level Rise to learn more about how you can start the conversation in your community.
- Visit the information site for Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future to learn more about our state’s climate work.
- Check out the following testimony about the importance of providing funding to address Sea Level Rise:
- Learn more about the Cost of Doing Nothing and the potential financial implications to our state.
- Read the recommendations set forth in the Maine Climate Council’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait.
- Check out the first in our three-part Economic Impact Study, The Cost of Sea Level Rise – Vinalhaven Edition, an interactive story map that walks through the challenges faced by an island community. Story Maps of Stonington and Scarborough coming soon.
- Check out the section on sea level rise vulnerability in our Waypoints: Connect publication.
- Visit our Sea Level Rise page to learn more about Island Institute resources to help your community plan for sea level rise.
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.
- 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!
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.