Legislative Advocacy Update: Maine Lawmakers Head Down the Stretch

he Maine House of Representatives and Senate will return to the Statehouse June 30th for a Veto Session after adjourning in the early morning hours of Friday, June 18.

Lawmakers reviewed, debated, and voted on hundreds of bills over three days of marathon floor sessions that bled into the overnight hours.

A veto session is regularly held at the end of each legislative calendar year to allow the State Legislature to act on bills that the governor has vetoed. However, veto session is not limited to bills that have been vetoed—meaning almost any legislation still pending could be taken up.

Other issues that could be brought up this veto session include the state’s Supplemental Budget, bills to appropriate money from federal COVID-19 relief legislation, and other outstanding bills, including a handful of interest to MMA.

The following is an update on movement and action of Maine Medical Association’s 2021 State Legislative Platform Priorities, as determined by MMA’s Legislative Committee and MMA’s Board of Directors.


LD 791—An Act Regarding Telehealth Regulations–PASSED 

Status—The bill was passed unanimously for enactment by the Maine House and Senate. It awaits action from Governor Mills.

Summary: LD 791 includes major components of LD 333, An Act Regarding Telehealth,a bill the MMA worked directly on introducing with primary sponsor, Representative Patty Hymanson (York; retired neurologist).

LD 333 had a goal of maintaining advances, and potentially expanding access, to telehealth services resulting from the COVID-19. LD 791 was used as a vehicle for approximately a half dozen other telehealth related bills introduced in 2021.

MMA Testimony

Telehealth testimony from MMA Board member, Susan Woods, MD, MPH


LD 1576ResolveTo Establish and Fund a Medical Professionals Health Program from Health Care Provider License Fees—DEAD 

Status—The bill was pulled by the sponsor on the request of the MMA after meeting with various licensing boards within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Stakeholders agreed to meet after the legislative session to discuss the Program, operations, and ongoing funding challenges.


LD 1196 – An Act Regarding Targets for Health Plan Investments in Primary Care and Behavioral Health—CARRIED OVER TO 2022 

Status—The bill was approved for carryover and consideration by the Maine Legislature in 2022

Summary:  The bill was designed with a goal of improving health outcomes and lowering costs through better Primary Care and Behavioral Health systems in Maine. Bill sponsor, and physician, Representative Sam Zager (Portland) requested the bill to be carried over to 2022 and a legislative committee agreed to direct stakeholders, convened by the Maine Medical Association, to meet and attempt to produce a consensus proposal to the committee focused on better directing Maine’s health care model more toward prevention, chronic disease management, access and equity, and treatment for behavioral/mental health conditions such as substance use disorder.

MMA Testimony


LD 663—An Act To Make Comprehensive Substance Use Disorder Treatment Available to Maine’s Incarcerated Population—PASSED; PENDING APPROPRIATIONS 

Status—The bill was passed to be enacted by the Maine House and Senate. It is now on the Special Appropriations Table for consideration with over 200 other pieces of legislation that need funding approval within the state budget.

Fiscal Note: $921,600

Summary: The legislation would place in law create a directive for the Maine Department of Corrections to providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders and additional substance use disorder treatment for incarcerated persons, including screening, evaluation, and treatment. The committee was divided on two different versions of amended language to the bill with disagreements over how broad the language should be for access to FDA approved medications and corresponding cost considerations.

MMA Testimony

LD 967—An Act To Make Possession of Scheduled Drugs for Personal Use a Civil Penalty—PENDING 

Status—The bill was passed to be enacted by the Maine House but remains on the Senate Calendar for future consideration.

Summary: The bill would make possession of a scheduled drug (W, X, Y or Z drugs) a civil violation instead of a crime or allows the court to refer the person to a provider for an evidence-based health assessment for proposed treatment for substance use disorder. A majority of the committee voted to approve the bill with amendments, however, the majority was split in the construct of amendments.

MMA Testimony

LD 994—An Act To Promote Public Health by Eliminating Criminal Penalties for Possession of Hypodermic Apparatuses—PASSED; PENDING APPROPRIATIONS 

Status—The bill was passed to be enacted by the Maine House and Senate. It is now on the Special Appropriations Table for consideration with over 200 other pieces of legislation that need funding approval within the state budget.

Fiscal Note: $26,570. Note: Finally, it is unclear how many individuals will no longer be convicted of the Class C crime of trafficking in or furnishing hypodermic apparatuses who otherwise would have been charged. For each individual who is no longer convicted of this crime the Department of Corrections will save $55,203 per year, according to legislative staff, which is the current average cost of incarcerating an individual for a single year

Summary: The bill would eliminate the crime of illegal possession of hypodermic syringes, and possession of a hypodermic syringe with residue of drugs would no longer be considered criminal possession of those drugs. The bill would also declassify items used for ingesting drugs and items used to test the contents of a drug and providing hypodermic syringes to others would no longer be considered an act of illegal trafficking.

MMA Testimony


LD 1423—An Act To Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use by Ensuring Adequate Funding for Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Programs and by Raising the Tax on Tobacco Products and To Provide Funding To Reduce Disparities in Health Outcomes Based on Certain Factors—RETURNED TO COMMITTEE 

Status—The bill was returned to the Taxation Committee by the Maine Senate for further consideration.

Summary—The bill increases the cigarette tax by $2.00/pack. Passing the bill into law is expected to generate nearly $48 million in new annual state revenue, decrease youth smoking by nearly 20%, and generate $3.4 million in state savings to the Medicaid program over the next five years. Maine law ties all tobacco taxes together so the increase will be made to all tobacco products.

MMA Testimony


LD 1550—An Act To End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products—PENDING HOUSE ACTION 

Status—The bill remains on the Maine House calendar for possible consideration. However, the Committee on Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs is currently considering whether to keep nearly identical language in the current Supplemental State Budget under consideration.

Summary—The bill would prohibit the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and electronic smoking devices. The bill language was also included in the Governor’s Supplemental State Budget (LD 221).

MMA Testimony – LD 1550

MMA Testimony – Governor’s budget

A comprehensive list covering the status of MMA bills of interest will be sent early next week as part of a Special State Legislative Edition of Maine Medicine Weekly Update.

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