An Act To Enhance and Increase the Availability of Mental Health Providers in Maine
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, there is an acute shortage of mental health providers in the State and pressing mental health needs that affect the well-being and safety of the populace; and
Whereas, mental health providers, like many professionals, incur student debt and have difficulty paying student loans; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. 1. 10 MRSA c. 110, sub-c. 2-B, as amended, is repealed.
Sec. 2. 20-A MRSA c. 441 is enacted to read:
MAINE MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDERS LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM
§ 12941. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 12942. Maine Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Program
(1) In a public or private child welfare or family service agency;
(2) In a public or private educational institution, kindergarten to grade 12;
(3) In a public or private hospital;
(4) In a federally qualified health center;
(5) In a community-based behavioral health center;
(6) In a public interest law service;
(7) In a public child care facility;
(8) In a public service for individuals with disabilities;
(9) In a public service for the elderly;
(10) In a public service for veterans; or
(11) At an organization exempt from taxation under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6);
§ 12943. Maine Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Fund
The Maine Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Fund is created as a nonlapsing, interest-earning, revolving fund to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
The authority may receive, invest and expend on behalf of the fund money from gifts, grants, bequests and donations in addition to money appropriated or allocated by the State and any federal funds received by the State for the benefit of mental health providers who have outstanding student loans. Money received by the authority on behalf of the fund must be used for the purposes of this chapter. The fund must be maintained and administered by the authority. Any unexpended balance in the fund carries forward for continued use under this chapter.
Costs and expenses of maintaining, servicing and administering the fund and of administering the program may be paid out of amounts in the fund.
§ 12944. Rules
The authority shall adopt rules to carry out the purposes of this chapter. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are routine technical rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 3. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.
FINANCE AUTHORITY OF MAINE
Maine Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Fund N281
Initiative: Provides a one-time appropriation for the repayment of student loans for certain mental health providers who practice in underserved practice areas and to pay the administrative costs of the fund.
|GENERAL FUND TOTAL||$1,000,000||$0|
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.
This bill establishes and provides funding for the Maine Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Program to be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine. Under the program, all social workers licensed by the State Board of Social Worker Licensure and all counselors licensed by the Board of Counseling Professionals Licensure may apply for student loan repayment assistance, as long as the applicants agree to practice for 5 years in one of a list of underserved practice areas in the State. The bill also repeals the currently unfunded Social Work Education Loan Repayment Program in the Maine Revised Statutes.