A report from Valerie Lovelace: Today I am both happy and sad. I’m happy that LD 1270, An Act Regarding Patient-Directed Care at the End-of-Life, enjoyed a Committee hearing, a Committee working session, two Senate hearings with roll call votes, an historic House hearing with a roll call vote—all in the space of just two months. The first Senate hearing on Monday resulted in an 18-17 vote “Ought Not to Pass”; the subsequent hearing in the House House yielded a 76-70 vote “Ought to Pass,” which sent the bill back to the Senate with the same result. Fascinating and encouraging is that these aren’t all the same votes. One Senator changed to a supportive position while another changed to opposing. That means there are changes of heart around this issue and lots of potential exists for ongoing education and advocacy in Maine’s legislature.
The bill was a late-in-the-first-half effort that took a lot of time, because four different legislative teams drafted bills. The four merged into Senator Katz’s draft, a fine piece of bi-partisan legislation, modeled on Vermont’s Act 39, with very strong sponsorship that finally went to public hearing on May 15, 2015, just one month and two days before the end of the session.
Death with Dignity in Maine Isn’t Going Away. Add to this the difficulty of getting a budget settled and all the turmoil that goes with it, and it feels to me like efforts with LD 1270 were hugely successful. I’m happy that two physicians, one in the House and one in the Senate, boldly supported the draft. But, LD 1270 is no more. After the Tuesday session, Senator Katz said of the Senate’s failure to pass the bill, “Today, we fell short by one vote. Just one. This will come to the legislature again. It’s an end-of-life issue that isn’t going away.”