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Maine Public

Leaders to Decide if Gun Control Bills Will Be Considered This Session

In the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shootings last week, Democrats in the Maine Legislature are hoping to introduce a number of last-minute gun control bills next week, including a ban on “bump stocks,” devices that are used to boost the performance of semiautomatic rifles. However, one Republican leader says it’s too late in the session to take up such major legislation.

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The Trump administration is tightening the rules for companies that contract out high-skilled workers who are in this country on H-1B visas.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Maine was the first state in the country to embrace a new “proficiency-based” high school diploma. Maine's current ninth-graders are set to graduate under these new requirements, which apply to subjects from math to English and social studies. However, the Maine Department of Education is considering a change in that law that would potentially make it less onerous to graduate.

After last week's shooting in Parkland, Fla., calls to arm teachers and school personnel have intensified. Both President Trump and the National Rifle Association argued this week that enabling school officials to shoot back could save lives and could deter potential assailants from entering a school.

Trump has clarified that he believes only those "adept" at using firearms should be armed, not all teachers.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A special legislative committee has approved its second bill to create rules for the recreational marijuana market in Maine. The bill contains several concessions designed to win the support of Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans, who scuttled the initial effort last year.

Reps agree that the bill isn’t perfect. Critics of the measure passed in committee worry that it falls short of creating a viable regulated marijuana market that can compete with, and eventually diminish, a thriving underground cannabis trade.

AP Photo

A Scarborough-based ambulance provider has settled with the U.S. Attorney's Office for $825,000 over allegations that it billed Medicaid for unnecessary ambulance rides.

In a separate settlement, Portland-Based Maine Medical Center will pay $600,000.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says that starting in 2007, North East improperly billed Medicare to transport patients who'd been discharged, in ambulances and that ambulance transport wasn't medically needed for those patients.

Members of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee have split along party lines over a proposal to charge an annual fee on new electric cars and hybrid powered vehicles.

Governor Paul LePage says a fee of $250 on electric vehicles, and $150 on hybrids, will assure that the owners of those cars and trucks pay something towards the maintenance of roads and bridges. Much of Maine’s highway infrastructure is currently funded by a tax on gasoline.

Annette Elizabeth Allen / NPR

President Trump is hosting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House. The two leaders are holding a joint news conference. This is taking place amid new charges in the Russia investigation and public debate over gun control and gun violence, all of which may come up in the course of questioning.

The coast guard is trying to assess the potential for environmental concerns following a tugboat crash off the coast of Kennebunkport.

The coastguard responded Wednesday to a call from crewmen on the tugboat Helen Louise which alerted them of a collision with the Captain Mackintire tug they had in tow.

According to a coast guard representative, they collided during a fuel transfer but fuel did not enter the water during the transfer. The Captain Mackintire sank. 

A Maine farmer who says his pregnant cow was shot and killed near a snowmobile route on his property will no longer let the public ride on the trail.

The Morning Sentinel reports that Clayton Tibbetts had permitted a local snowmobile club to maintain a route through his farm in Madison until the cow was found dead last week. Tibbetts says he doesn't know if a snowmobiler killed the animal, but the carcass was found about 30 feet away from the trail.

President Trump on Friday announced a fresh round of sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to block oil and other prohibited products from getting to the Asian nation.

"We have imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed," Trump said at the conclusion of his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxen Hill, Md., just outside Washington. "Hopefully, something positive can happen. We will see."

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