AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature has sent the governor a bill requested by the mayors of Auburn and Lewiston to make it harder for municipalities to merge.

A key part of the proposal requires votes in each community considering a merger to gauge interest before starting work to implement the idea. Later, there would be a second vote.

The measure was adopted Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn tells the Sun Journal that the idea is to “avoid unnecessary heartache and expense on merger proposals that lack community support.”

Under existing law, residents don’t to vote on a merger until after time-consuming details are worked out by a joint charter commission. Lewiston and Auburn went through that laborious process before both communities overwhelming rejected a merger.