Collins votes against ‘global gag rule’ on abortion

Good morning from Augusta, where the political temperature will be rising as the week goes on. Here’s your soundtrack (I had to link to the version without the video, which seemed a bit too racy for this crowd).

The question of whether the Legislature has been technically adjourned for the past two weeks, which blew up in the headlines last week, is one that you’ll continue to hear and read about for weeks, and possibly months. Hanging in the balance are 70 bills.

If the Legislature is at recess as lawmakers intended and not adjourned for the year, those 70 bills are now in law. Most of them will be implemented 90 days after adjournment sine die, which is expected to happen on Thursday when the House and Senate convene, supposedly for the last time until December, to wrap up loose ends. 

If the Legislature did adjourn for the session on June 30, Gov. Paul LePage has until sometime in January to issue vetoes and the 70 bills are essentially in limbo. Between now and then, it’s probable that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court will be asked to weigh in, which LePage has said he will call for. 

Barring the unexpected, which has come to be expected at the State House, the first half of this week should be quiet. The Legislature is scheduled to return Thursday, which is likely to be a day of political theater, but much of the focus this week is on Friday. That’s when the Government Oversight Committee will meet to hear a preliminary report on an investigation into LePage’s leveraging of taxpayer dollars to force Good Will-Hinckley School to fire Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves as its president. 

Stay tuned to the Bangor Daily News and the State & Capitol Daily Brief for all the details. — Christopher Cousins 

Collins votes with Democrats against ‘global gag rule’ on abortion

Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins solidified her moderate approach to some issues, including family planning, last week when she voted with mostly Democrats against cutting international family planning funding and reinstating the “global gag rule.”

According an article on the website RH Reality Check, the gag rule forbids organizations that collect any funding from the U.S. government from using their own money to provide any services or information related to abortion. The Senate Appropriations Committee has been dealing with the issue through its deliberations on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act of 2016.

The original version of the proposed bill included putting the gag rule — which hasn’t been enforced since President Barack Obama took office — into law and cutting 25 percent of U.S. support for the United Nations Population Fund, which according to the article does not fund abortions but provides maternal and reproductive health services worldwide.

Collins and two other Republicans on the committee voted with Democrats in the 17-13 tally against the amendment. The bill would be subject to a conference committee to align it with its corresponding Senate version but that is seen as unlikely anytime soon because of gridlock in Congress around budget issues. — Christopher Cousins

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Beans ‘n franks? It’s not even Saturday

According to the website, today is National Beans ‘n Franks Day.

“Our research was unable to find the creator of National Beans ‘n Franks Day, an ‘unofficial’ national holiday,” states the website.

Having lived in Maine my entire life (home of Portland’s B&M Baked Beans, by the way) let me help out a bit. Beans ‘n franks are a Saturday night tradition for many Maine families. I remember my mom dishing them out, along with that brown bread that comes in a can (do they still sell that stuff?).

Based on that, I was thinking that National Beans ‘n Franks Day might be a Maine creation but the website said there are versions of beans ‘n franks recipes from all over the world. In some areas the dish is known as “Beanie Weenies.”

Beanie Weenies? Not on my table. — Christopher Cousins


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.