AUGUSTA — The Maine Legislature concluded the bulk of its regular work Thursday night, wrapping up its long, contentious session with a barrage of final votes, including a final vote on the historic and hard-fought bill to allow abortions later in pregnancy.

Gov. Janet Mills, who championed the bill, is expected to sign it into law next week.

Advocates for the bill released prepared statements celebrating the Senate’s 20-11 final enactment vote. Late last month, the Senate voted to advance the bill on a 21-13 vote. It was in the House where the bill struggled, winning support in narrow 73-69 and 74-72 votes.

Zoe Reich of Portland, who was forced to seek an out-of-state abortion after getting a fatal fetal diagnosis late in her pregnancy, said the bill’s adoption will be a great relief to patients who find themselves in need of abortion care late in their pregnancies as she did.

“Today is a proud and deeply emotional day for me and all patient advocates who have been tirelessly sharing our stories in the hopes of impacting change through improving Maine’s laws,” said Reich, who testified before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in a 19-hour hearing earlier this session.

Elayne Richard of Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights cheered Thursday’s final legislative vote.


“We are proud of the majority of our lawmakers for expressing their trust in pregnant Mainers, and for standing up to the intimidation and stigma of those who support forced pregnancy and birth,” Richard said. “We who have been in this fight for half a century don’t plan to quit any time soon.”

The final day of policy work stretched on for about nine hours from start to finish in the House and Senate. The biggest drama was limited to the House, which tried to override Mills’ veto of a tribal rights bill but fell 10 votes shy.

Both chambers debated the supplemental budget, which sparked a lot of debate for a bipartisan deal. The House passed it but failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary for it to go into effect upon Mills’ signature. Consequently, those extra funds can’t be spent for 90 days.

Some lingering pieces of legislation failed to move forward after either the House or Senate refused to support or even take up bills that were supported in the other chamber, including a proposed ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and a proposal to expand MaineCare coverage to noncitizens.

The Legislature’s work is not completely finished: The budget-writing committee will return to the State House next week to decide which bills that require a state investment that got initial approval from both chambers but did not get worked into the state budget should receive state funding.

Nobody knows how many of these rare budgetary golden tickets there are to go around. That is because the state budget was only printed last Friday, and state analysts and budget committee members are still calculating what is leftover to be divided among the political caucuses to fund their favorite bills.


The budget committee will come up with a list of recommendations that the House and Senate will vote on sometime later this month. Lawmakers also would consider whether to mount any override attempts of gubernatorial vetoes, should Mills not like any of the bills heading her way this week.

The House adjourned first, at 9:39 p.m. In between announcements – where lawmakers extended public invites to visit their home districts to attend upcoming film, potato blossom or cheese festivals – Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross thanked lawmakers for their good work in a difficult session.

“The chair recognizes that the members are tired,” said Talbot Ross, D-Portland. “We’ve completed some really good work. I just want to extend sincere thanks to each and every one of you for your patience, your flexibility throughout the last several months.”

The Senate adjourned about 15 minutes later. And while House members ended their very rough-and-tough legislative session in laughter, the usually amicable Senate wrapped up its business with one member calling out another for allegedly smearing one of her constituents in a floor speech.

Sen. Cameron Reny, D-Lincoln, read a letter from Shannon Carr of Bristol, an abortion provider who had testified in support of Mills’ abortion bill. Carr claims Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, lied about a legal case that involved her to undermine the bill’s prospects, harming her in the process.

“Things can get really heated here,” said Reny, who did not name Brakey. “But even if it gets heated, and even when it is things we care a lot about, it is really important that we remember and consider that no matter how strongly we feel, we need to be showing Maine citizens, and our constituents, respect.”

Brakey could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

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