The headline from Augusta last week was the bipartisan agreement on a supplemental budget that will send $850 checks to most Mainers.

Even with a $1.2 billion budget surplus, there was not enough money to fund every lawmaker’s priorities. At this writing, we do not know how the Appropriations Committee will divide the last $12 among 200 unfunded bills that have passed the House and Senate, but we can be certain that there will be some  disappointments.

Still, two compromises on important pieces of policy were achieved as time was running out on the session, and they should not be overlooked. With the utilities regulation bill, L.D. 1959, and changes to the so-called “Good Samaritan law,” L.D. 1862, legislators and the governor’s office worked together to find a way forward on legislation that will make Maine better able to meet its challenges.

Last year, Gov. Mills vetoed a bill that would have let Maine voters decide whether the state should create Pine Tree Power, a consumer-owned nonprofit utility that would take over Maine’s two investor-owned electric utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant Power.

At the time, the governor described the utilities’ performance as “abysmal” but said the bill had been poorly crafted. She promised to work with lawmakers to better hold utilities accountable.

This year, she responded by introducing legislation that would raise the regulatory standards for the for-profit companies, require the Public Utilities Commission to issue quarterly report cards and impose fines of up to $1 million for bad service. It also created a process that could force the utility’s sale if problems persist.


The bill was met with skepticism by supporters of a referendum campaign that would bring the consumer-owned utility idea to the voters in 2023. They argued that it was a Trojan horse that would shelter the companies from an angry public with the illusion of real accountability.

But some Democrats and allies among environmental groups worked with the Mills administration to make the bill tougher and to link the companies’ performance to the state’s climate goals, a process that could save ratepayers millions of dollars as climate change pushes the electrification of more of our economy.

That did not seem to be enough. Supporters of the consumer-owned utility referendum joined anti-regulation Republicans in defeating the bill in the House on Tuesday. But overnight negotiations produced an even tougher bill that was sent to the governor’s desk.

This was the right move. Mainers should not have to wait for a referendum vote and the resolution of a likely legal battle before getting better performance and more accountability from their electric utilities. And the Public Utilities Commission needed to hear the message that their credibility is also on the line. Failure to reach agreement on this bill would have let everyone off the hook.

In 2019, Maine passed a law that protected someone from arrest if they reported a drug overdose. Two horrific years later, it is clear that it was not enough.

When someone’s life is in the balance, people are afraid to call for help and they waste precious time cleaning up a room and hiding evidence of drug use.


This year, recovery activists and a strong bipartisan majority in both houses of the Legislature got behind L.D. 1862, sponsored by Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, would broaden the immunity, making it clear to police and overdose witnesses that there will be no arrests of  people at the scene if they are calling for help.

The Mills administration opposed the bill and let lawmakers know it. Even after a bipartisan coalition organized in support of the expansion, the governor said she would veto it because she believed that it could make it easier for drug traffickers to operate, which she believed would make the overdose problem worse.

But Mills also said she was open to a compromise and convinced the Legislature to take the bill off her desk and rework it.

Late Wednesday, lawmakers reached a compromise that would protect from arrest anyone who is actively assisting the person who overdosed. The new version of the bill will be sent Monday to the Legislature, where it is expected to pass. It is a step in the right direction. We hope that this legislation is a sign that Maine is moving away from the “War on Drugs” approach in addressing the overdose epidemic.

Mills and lawmakers deserve credit for overcoming their objections and finding a way to say “yes.” This is the kind of work that we send people to Augusta to do, and Maine will be better off for their efforts.

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