Lawmakers continue debating bills as session draws near to adjournment

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) State lawmakers expect to wrap up this legislative session at the end of next week.

A number of high-profile bills are still being debated.

"Really the big issue left before the legislature is tax conformity. We need to make sure that people are in a position so that when they go and get their W-2's next January that they can file their tax returns."

Senate President Michael Thibodeau is hopeful the legislature will rally behind the state tax committee's proposal to conform to the federal tax code.

During Thursday's session, the Senate unanimously approved a proposal to make the opioid overdose drug naloxone available to people under the age of 21 without a prescription.

That measure received veto-proof support in the House as well on Wednesday.

"I think that there's pretty broad support for making sure that people have the tools that are available," said Thibodeau, (R).

Another bill that won unanimous approval from the Senate is a proposed pilot project to provide treatment and recovery services in Washington County, which has the highest average rate of drug overdose deaths in Maine.

Using federal funding, it will direct those suffering from substance abuse to the services they require.

"So this is going to allow them to call a number, a live person will be able to answer their call and will be able to direct them. And that's going to be wonderful. It will save someone's life," said Sen. Joyce Maker, (R) the bill's sponsor.

A bill requiring all Maine schools to test their water for lead was opposed by a few lawmakers for being an unfunded mandate, but ultimately received more than two-thirds support from the Senate.

"From Benton, we had high levels of lead - traces 40 times the amount we should have. And it's not that expensive to test water and it doesn't take very long," said Sen. Scott Cyrway, (R) Benton.

"Our children all deserve not to be exposed to lead no matter their water supply," said Sen. Rebecca Millett, (D) the bill's sponsor.

The Senate could vote on the compromise bill governing marijuana sales on Friday. The measure had less support in the House on its second round of votes Thursday, but still enough for a veto-proof majority.

If it becomes law, state regulators will then draw up the rules to allow adult-use cannabis sales likely by next year or 2020.