Lawmakers have many duties and responsibilities. We help our constituents, share information and sponsor bills. We also serve on committees, which conduct public hearings and work sessions on bills before the bills go to the Senate and House Chamber for votes. Last month, I learned that I have been appointed to serve as the Senate Chair for the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services (HCIFS) Committee for the 131st Legislature. I’ll also serve as a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate’s Standing Committee on Conduct and Ethics. Looking ahead to committee work, I thought that I could describe some of what the HCIFS and Judiciary Committees cover. To do that, we’ll take a look at what bills from those two committees became laws during or after the 130th Legislature.

The HCIFS Committee covers a wide range of subjects: banking and credit unions, occupational and professional regulation, prescription drugs, securities, health information and data, insurance regulation and practices and health insurance. Last year, HCIFS heard and worked on “An Act to Determine Potential Savings in Prescription Drug Costs by Using International Pricing.” I know that making prescription drugs more affordable will help many Mainers, especially older Mainers and those who live on low or fixed incomes. HCIFS also heard and worked on “An Act to Lower Health Care Costs through the Establishment of the Office of Affordable Health Care.” Lowering health care costs remains a big priority in our district. I look forward to facilitating public hearings and work sessions on bills that will make health care accessible, affordable and available. Finally, HCIFS heard and worked on “An Act to Promote Better Dental Care for Cancer Survivors.” Many people don’t realize that cancer treatments have harsh side effects that can affect a patient’s oral health. Having survived cancer myself, I can say that it’s critical for cancer survivors to access high-quality dental care. HCIFS is a busy committee with lots of bills, so I am looking forward to all that we can work on.

Judiciary is a busy committee, too. It covers civil procedure, criminal law, courts, family law, criminal records, human rights, legal services, privacy and tribal-state relations – among other topics. Last year, Judiciary heard and worked on “An Act To Prioritize the Prosecution of Child Homicide Cases.” In the 130th Legislature, I sat on the Government and Oversight Committee, which launched an investigation into child murders in Maine. To this day, I can’t forget the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stories and testimony. I’m hopeful this law will help surviving family members seek justice and find closure. Next, Judiciary heard and worked on “An Act to Maintain Consistency among Maine’s Nondiscrimination Statutes.” This important bill fixed the many inconsistencies that existed between the Maine Human Rights Act and other laws that prevent discrimination, including updating and expanding the list of protected classes. Finally, I introduced “An Act to Clarify and Recodify Maine’s Protection from Abuse Statutes” to the Judiciary Committee because – too often – domestic abuse and violence survivors either could not afford a lawyer or could not interpret the law on their own. By clarifying and re-organizing these statutes, survivors can better access and understand their protections and rights.

And so, as the newly appointed Senate Chair for HCIFS, I look forward to helping ensure that Mainers have strong consumer protections and access to affordable, high-quality insurance. I also look forward to serving on the Judiciary Committee, so that I can continue my legislative work to seek justice for domestic abuse and violence survivors, as well as survivors of sexual assault and harassment. In these roles, I know that I’ll be able to serve my constituents well, especially those navigating complex financial or insurance services and those recovering from the trauma of abuse or assault.

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