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We're thrilled the world didn't end in 2012 — aren't you? Not just because it lets us keep those plans to go to Asmara for lunch every day (why is that place not packed?), and live up to our promises to actually read that book recommended (or possibly written) by a friend or co-worker. There are some pretty amazing things slated to happen in Maine in 2013, and now that we're going to be around to enjoy them, we're getting even more excited. As you celebrate the beginning of the new year, think about all the unknown prospects and possibilities — but also about these very real events, already slated to occur.

A BIG BATTLE IN AUGUSTA

We've already seen the sparks flying between the Blaine House and the State House, with Republican Governor Paul LePage in a snit because the Democrats apparently want to hear — and record — everything he has to say at public appearances, but things may end up escalating. We know there will be huge fights about medical costs, tax policy, social services, and environmental regulations — not to mention labor agreements, business development, and how much Mainers can afford to spend coddling wealthy out-of-state corporations. We hope things won't get as far as actual combat, of course, but we expect talks will eventually break down completely. When that happens, our state's desperate leaders might remember that fireworks are legal — and start launching barrages across Augusta's Capitol Street, from the State House toward the Blaine House, or (more likely) the other direction. We're not expressing hope this happens, but rather warning about its possibility. It definitely wouldn't be the healthiest (nor safest) way to express political disagreement, but we have to admit it sure would provide some otherwise-missing drama for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network's planned "ME-SPAN" coverage of the usually staid meetings and conferences among policymakers. If it gets as bad as lawmakers replacing scheduled votes on bills with five-minute Roman candle fusillades, we'll be certain the legislative session will end with no winners, and a whole bunch of losers. Which is more or less what we expect anyway.

EXPANDED HEALTH CARE

Many American women will see the expansion of preventative care services in 2013, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which became law in March 2010. While several female-centric features of the law were already rolled out, a larger swath of women will see the following services covered "without cost-sharing requirements" (a/k/a "for free") as more plans start to comply with the law: regular HPV, STI, HIV, and domestic-violence screenings; an annual "well-woman" visit; FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures; breastfeeding support and supplies; and screening for gestational diabetes for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant or at high risk for elevated blood sugar during pregnancy. Visit healthcare.gov to learn more about how the law affects you.

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