August 20, 2018
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Student protesters stage a five-hour sit-in at Collins’ Bangor office

Alex Acquisto | BDN
Alex Acquisto | BDN
Protesters sit in the narrow hallway leading to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' office Thursday in Bangor. The group was staging a sit-in to try and persuade Collins to vote against the final version of the Republican tax overhaul bill.
By Alex Acquisto, BDN Staff
Updated:

Nine protesters staged a sit-in at U.S. Sen Susan Collins’ Bangor office Thursday, the latest demonstration over the Republican tax overhaul that critics say unfairly favors corporations and the rich.

Unlike last week’s protest, this one ended without arrests. The protesters left just minutes before the Margaret Chase Federal Building, where Collins has an office, closed at 5 p.m. At most, 16 protesters gathered in the Republican senator’s office on Harlow Street, spilling out into the foyer.

The group of mostly graduate or doctoral students at the University of Maine arrived around 12:30 p.m. Thursday to pressure Collins to vote against the final version of the Republican bill that would overhaul the tax code. Collins is not in Maine and the protesters were never able to directly communicate with her, they said.

Sonja Birthisel, 29, who is working toward a Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and was grading papers on the floor of Collins’ office earlier this afternoon, said she is in the bottom income bracket, earning less than $10 per hour, and while she might get a nominal tax break, the larger effects on the cost of health care would be debilitating.

She said she appreciated Collins’ no vote on the attempted repeal of Obamacare.

“I’d like to see her show that same courage today,” she said.

Theirs was the second group to formally protest inside Collins’ Bangor office this month. Last Monday, f ive Mainers were arrested and charged with trespassing for refusing to leave the building when it closed, though the charges were later dropped. Other protests have broken out around the state in recent weeks, including a group of Portland faith leaders who were arrested at Collins’ Portland office.

Collins was able to negotiate three amendments into the tax bill, including reducing a medical expense deduction threshold and allowing taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes. While she has not seen the final version of the House and Senate bill, Annie Clark, Collins’ spokeswoman, said Thursday that Collins was “confident” her improvements made it into the bill.

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