After a 22-hour workday that stretched from Wednesday morning to early Thursday morning, the Maine Legislature has adjourned. It’s likely we’ll come back for a few days later this summer to tie up a few loose ends, but, by and large, our work for the year is done.

It was an interesting session marked by both conflict and camaraderie, but we managed to pass some good laws that will benefit Maine people. Here are some of the highlights:

Arguably our biggest accomplishment was passing a two-year budget, something I wrote about in great detail in my last column. To recap, the budget was passed with support from both parties, doesn’t raise taxes and puts the needs of Mainers first by funding property tax relief, voter-approved MaineCare expansion, education and low-cost prescriptions for our seniors. It’s a good deal for Maine, and it doesn’t break the bank.

We also passed a package of bills aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs. New laws sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash, Sen. Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic and Sen. Heather Sanborn of Portland willallow Mainers to import high-quality drugs from Canada at a lower price, will regulate unreasonable drug price hikes and will force prescription drug middlemen to pass on savings to consumers. These are important steps to increase transparency and accountability for drug companies and middlemen and lower the cost of prescription drugs for Maine families and seniors. I’ve heard far too many stories from constituents, friends and neighbors about the high cost of prescription drugs, and I was proud to support these bills.

Maine workers had some good wins this session, too. A new law signed by Gov. Janet Mills reforms our workers’ compensation laws by increasing the amount of time that severely injured workers can collect benefits and increasing the amount of money that injured workers are allowed to collect. This bill was a hard-fought compromise by the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee and was supported across party lines by the entire Legislature.

Another important reform introduced by Senate President Jackson that passed this session will provide loggers and haulers with the same collective bargaining rights as potato farmers and lobster fishermen, allowing them to join associations to improve conditions and promote policies that benefit the industry. At a hearing for this bill, many loggers showed up to testify, risking retribution from their employers to do so. Loggers are an essential part of our economy, and it is past time they were allowed to bargain collectively.

We do still have some work left to do. The Legislature has not yet approved any bonds to fund major capital improvements. During the final hours of the session, a bond package was narrowly shot down that would have funded roads and bridges; research and development; expanding broadband and fishing/farming infrastructure; wastewater treatment projects; renewable energy; the Land for Maine’s Future program; and career and technical education. We will likely come back this summer to deal with that, and I am hopeful that we can agree on a strong investment in infrastructure that we really need.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear from you. I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (207) 287-1515. I work for you, and you have a right to hold me accountable.

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