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This week’s edition!

Creating a more just society

Guest Column

By Sen. Libby

Dear Friend,

Two weeks ago, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges against him — second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter — in the death of George Floyd. Like many of you, I remember the horror I felt when I first saw the footage of Chauvin murder George Floyd in the street, while Chauvin’s fellow officers stood by and watched.

While the trial verdict was certainly welcome news, it is the bare minimum of accountability we need to see. It is only the first step toward justice for George Floyd, his family, and the community that loves him still. Every person living in America, regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender or economic status, must be able to trust that our justice system is there to protect them and their neighbors. That is the America we have promised to ourselves and our children. But we’re not there yet.  

I vow to do everything I can, as both a lawmaker and your neighbor, to help create a more just society, where we can all feel safe, respected and honored for who we are. In the Legislature, a big part of this will come from the important work of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, which I am proud to support.  


Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston), Maine District 21, the City of Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Libby)

If you have any thoughts or concerns to share, or just want to talk things through, I’m here for you. You can always reach me at nathan.libby@legislature.maine.gov or 207-287-1515.

Help preparing taxes

As I’ve shared previously, the deadline for filing both state and federal taxes was extended to May 17. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, CA$H Maine may be able to help. Their volunteers stand ready to help working-class Mainers get the maximum possible refund. Since 2003, CA$H Maine has saved tax filers more than $9 million in tax preparation fees and helped clients claim more than $80 million worth of federal tax refunds.

Visit cashmaine.org to find a location near you, learn about volunteering, and explore information about budgeting, reducing debt, and building savings. Some sites are helping people right up to May 17!

Free school meals continue

Back in March, the USDA announced that it would be extending flexibilities in the free school meal program, including offering free school lunches to all students regardless of household income, through September 2021. This week, the USDA announced the program would be extended even further, through the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year. This is great news for students and families across our state. It means more students will be able to get access to healthy meals, and school districts will have flexibility to meet the current needs of their communities.

FEMA funeral assistance

It’s an unfortunate reality that death services can be incredibly expensive. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless families have faced unexpected costs from death care. Thankfully, there is some relief. FEMA has begun providing funds to cover the funeral expenses of families who’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 in the U.S. Funeral expenses dating back to January 20, 2020, are eligible.

To apply, call the FEMA hotline to begin the application process at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585); the line is open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday-Friday. You will be given an application number over the phone and instructions on how to submit necessary documentation to FEMA. You will need a death certificate with COVID-19 listed as cause of death, and proof of paid funeral expenses (receipts, contract for services, etc.).

STEM loan relief

Good news for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) professionals and soon to graduate students who want to live and work in Maine – applications are now being accepted through May 15 for up to $60,000 in student loan debt relief for professionals who live in or relocate to Maine and are employed by a Maine-based business in the STEM-related fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Soon-to-be graduates who will work in Maine companies as STEM professionals may also apply. 

The Alfond Leaders program is funded by the Harold Mond Foundation and administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). It assists Maine employers in attracting and retaining talented STEM professionals by providing student loan repayment assistance of up to $60,000 per recipient. Payment of the debt relief award is made directly to a recipient’s student loan servicer. Payments are made once at the end of three years of qualifying residency and employment and again at the end of a subsequent three-year period of qualifying residency and employment.

For the Spring 2021 application cycle, eligible applicants may already be working as a STEM professional; or have recently graduated with a degree or certificate between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020; or be completing their degree or certificate between January 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021. Awards made to graduating students will be finalized once they have begun a STEM position in Maine and, if new to Maine, have relocated to the state. 

Applicants are being sought from across the nation, and current Maine residents are eligible and being encouraged to apply.  Applicants can learn more and apply by visiting AlfondLeaders.org. 

Action for Earth Day

The world celebrated its 51st Earth Day last month, and local environmentalists got to work. While participating in the community clean-up effort, some also shared some tips on how we can all be more environmentally friendly, such as cutting down on water usage and water waste, turning off lights and switching to more energy-efficient bulbs. 

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) represents Maine Senate District 21, which comprises the City of Lewiston.

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