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Only a week is left before the 128th Legislature’s scheduled adjournment on April 18. Among the unfinished business is LD 1492, “An Act to Attract, Educate and Retain New Mainers to Strengthen the Workforce.” An amended version of the bill eliminated the proposed executive branch “Office of New Mainers” but would spend $390,000 in FY 2018-19 on adult education, language courses and workforce training for immigrants. A recent op-ed in the Bangor Daily News by University of Maine professor Robert Glover and an undergraduate honors student, Cleo Barker, makes the point that almost half of recent immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the United States have at least a bachelor’s degree, but end up working in low-skill positions because they lack U.S.-based work experience. Glover and Barker argue that many of those under-employed new Mainers have skills and experience that are needed in this state and would benefit from the programs funded by the amended bill. Despite strong bipartisan support, LD 1492 was sent to the “special appropriations table” — where, as the authors note, “good bills go to die.”
If this bill dies, do you see it as a missed opportunity to address Maine’s shortage of skilled labor by helping immigrants get the training or credentials they need to be fully employed?