6 Ways to Effect Change and Advocate for your Business

Policy Advocacy: How engaging with State Government can benefit small business

Maine is one of the few states with a citizens’ legislature, which is made up primarily of citizens who have a full-time occupation besides being a legislator.

Your legislators are regular Mainers. They are teachers, farmers, lawyers,health care professionals and small business owners. To best serve the people of Maine, legislators rely on Maine people and Maine businesses to bring attention to issues that affect them.

When you become engaged in policy-making – whether following the progress of a proposed law, contacting your public officials, or introducing the idea for a new law – you are helping make Maine a better place for small business owners – including you.

1. Contact Your Public Officials

Consider introducing yourself to your local, county and state officials, including State House legislators (House and Senate) and (if applicable) relevant state agency policy and program staff.  You may also wish to contact Maine’s federal delegation.  Click below to find your public official/contact information.

Maine State Government

Maine’s Federal Delegation

2. Follow a specific bill

Have you heard about a specific bill (proposed law) from the news, a peer or advocacy group? There are many reasons why you may want or need to support, oppose, or simply monitor progress on a particular bill.

  • Find your bill
    • Search for a Bill by Number – each bill is given a 3-4 digit tracking number, generally displayed as LD 1234
    • Search for Bill by Topic – You may need to try different keywords to find relevant bill(s)
    • Once you’ve found your bill(s), click the number to see it’s current status and committee assignment
  • Check the legislative calendar to monitor bills of interest. Committee hearings are on the full calendar on the Maine State Legislature website (this will show you each event by the day), or you can go to the committee calendar to find hearings by issue area. 
  • You cannot currently subscribe to receive updates on a specific bill. Bookmark the bill’s page and check back frequently, and/or subscribe to the “reference Committee” (see below)

3. Follow a Committee to learn more about broad topics

Don’t have a specific bill you’re following, but want to know what the legislature is discussing when it comes to small business? Follow the committees.

  • These committees generally hear bills and oversee policy related to small business and entrepreneurship:
  • Sign up as an interested party on the Committee’s page (see option circled in red below). If you subscribe to this mailing list, you will receive all public notices and committee information regarding bills, report backs, and meeting schedule notices. These notices will let you know when there are public hearings and work sessions on a particular bill so you can provide your input. 
  • Have questions about timing/process? Contact the Committee Clerk.

4. Provide Input

Your voice matters. Each committee invites supporters and opponents of a bill to present or submit testimony “for,” “against,” or “neither for nor against.”

  • Attend a Hearing/Work Session
    • Unless there are restrictions for public health reasons, the public is encouraged to attend hearings in person.
      • Note: the public is not allowed to speak at hearings – except when you are presenting testimony or unless asked a question by a committee member. If someone has been involved in development of a bill or has pertinent experience or knowledge of an issue, they may be asked as to participate – i.e., present or answer committee questions –at a work session following the hearing. The committee votes on bills during the work session.
  • Watching/Stream Hearings:
    • Committee briefings, hearings and work sessions and legislative floor sessions are streamed live, and you can also watch hearings here on demand.
    • Here is a link to each committee’s audio stream, to listen to committee meetings online. These recordings are archived and can also be accessed on demand.
    • The full House and Senate also have audio/video streams.

5. Seek out Advocacy Support

Need more assistance or want to brainstorm?

All queries will be directed to CEI’s Policy Advocacy Team

6. Propose a New Law

Only a legislator can submit a legislative request (bill proposal). However, if you have attempted to find alternative solutions to a problem, and it has become clear that legislative action or oversight are needed to resolve an issue or improve the business ecosystem, here are some basic steps to get you started.

  • Do Research: Is there something already out there in the works? Search bills/committee schedules, other states/cities for examples.
  • Build a Coalition : Get peers to work with you – contact other businesses that might be facing the same/similar issues.
  • Find a Champion: Contact your legislator or the relevant committee chairs to sponsor and get help drafting a bill.
  • Build awareness and public support for your bill.