SOUTH PORTLAND – Sen. Susan Collins polished her bipartisan credentials during the Portland Regional Chamber’s Eggs and Issues breakfast at the Marriott Hotel at Sable Oaks on Thursday.

In a moment that drew laughs from the crowd, Collins, a Republican, praised independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, by mentioning King’s tech savvy.

“Angus and I get along famously,” Collins said. “He sends me lots of text messages. The only people who send me so many text messages are my young nieces and Angus King.”

On a more serious note, Collins mentioned sponsoring bills with Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. The bill with Casey would help small businesses in a number of ways, Collins said, including making certain tax deductions permanent and doubling the maximum allowable deduction for start-up expenses.

Collins said she was inspired to propose the bill based on conversations with Rob Tod of Portland’s Allagash Brewing Co., which grew from a one-person business in 1995 to more than 60 employees. Collins said Tod used the tax code to his advantage, and she was looking at more ways to do so for start-up companies.

Meanwhile, the bill with Donnelly would alter the Affordable Care Act by changing the definition of full-time under the ACA from 30 hours to 40 hours. Collins said the “common-sense” change would eliminate “perverse” incentives for companies to cut part-time workers to 29 hours to avoid providing health benefits for workers.

Collins recently was the only Republican to vote with Democrats on a transportation funding bill that ultimately failed to overcome procedural hurdles. In an interview with the website Politico, she criticized Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for his efforts to kill the bill.

“All I can tell you is he has never worked harder against a member of his own party than he did against me,” Collins told Politico.

But Collins, who with the rest of Congress is on an August recess, was all smiles on Thursday at the chamber breakfast. She stressed the need for bipartisanship to solve the nation’s problems, especially the looming debt, which in future years could threaten entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

“Now, we are left with that quality of our national character that has seen us through crises throughout our history — our resolve, and our willingness to pull together as we tackle the challenges facing our nation,” Collins said.

Joe Lawlor can be reached at 791-6376 or at:

jlawlor@pressherald.com or

Twitter: @joelawlorph