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Two days after the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override President Barack Obama’s veto, GOP leaders are expressing reservations about legislation that would allow lawsuits related to 9/11 to go forward against Saudi Arabia.

According to The Hill, a leading political website, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan both say they were open to discussions about changing the bill, which Congress approved unanimously.

Maine Independent Sen. Angus King was among those who voted to override Obama’s veto.

A group working to enforce a new ban on the purchase of tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets and other items with cash welfare benefits met for the first time Friday.

The Legislature created the prohibition earlier this year, but it also sought to determine whether retailers can block the sale of the outlawed items at the point of sale.

Some retailers and large grocers have worried about the cost of implementing a point-of-sale block. But Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine argued it would take the enforcement burden off clerks and store owners.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - The state's efforts to rewrite Maine's welfare-to-work rules are drawing critique from a legal aid group.

Maine Equal Justice Partners said some of the rules proposed by the state Department of Health and Human Services conflict with state and federal law. The group is urging the state to continue allowing recipients to reject jobs that would mean less cash for their families.

Portland’s police department is the latest law enforcement agency to hand out an overdose-reversal drug to its patrol officers.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says he had resisted the move, but the frequency of opioid overdoses in the city makes it necessary.

A former state health director says Maine’s rising infant mortality rate is likely due to a lack of public health nurses.

Dr. Lani Graham told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee Thursday that there are more than 40 positions, but at most, 25-30 are filled. Graham says that’s not enough to do home visits to new mothers and babies to assess and support their health.

“We used to have the lowest infant mortality in the country, and we now have 13th highest from the worst,” she says.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The owners of a campground in Scarborough, Maine, have agreed to pay a $227,500 penalty and restore wetlands for environmental violations.

Bayley’s Camping Resort, Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm Inc., and related entities signed a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice over claims they illegally polluted and filled in wetlands.

The consent decree won’t become final until after a public comment period.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine — Two new political groups are ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars on door-to-door canvassing and contributions ahead of this fall’s statewide election.

Maine legislative candidates will vie for seats and control of the chambers this November. New political action committees include a California progressive group that supported independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid and a pro-tax reform group linked to GOP Gov. Paul LePage.

Members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee are raising questions about the LePage administration’s plan, announced earlier this year, to build a 21-bed forensic facility near the existing Riverview Psychiatric Center. Lawmakers want answers the administration is not providing.

Ever since the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was seeking bids to build and operate a facility to house forensic patients who don’t require hospitalization, the proposal has been met with skepticism.

Immigrant and refugee groups from around Maine are banding together to form a coalition that aims to get out the community’s vote, and to lobby at the local and state level.

Somali, Iraqi, Congolese and several other community organizations are part of the New Mainers Alliance, which was announced at Portland’s City Hall Thursday.

Alliance Chairman Abdifatah Ahmed, a pharmacist who emigrated from Somalia 25 years ago, spoke about how the alliance will achieve its goals.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

With a workforce that once peaked at more than 500, the Maine Military Authority at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone was nationally known for its ability to retrofit thousands of Humvee vehicles for the National Guard.

It’s Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics.

This week: Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Legislature as an independent; Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, who was a Republican lawmaker; and attorney Cynthia Dill, who served in Augusta as a Democrat.

PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government says more than 1 million Mainers are currently dealing with drought conditions.

The latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor says 80 percent of the state's population is affected by moderate to extreme drought.

The report Thursday says almost 10 percent of the state, including Cumberland, York and Sagadahoc counties, is in an "extreme drought.'' The entire area experiencing moderate to extreme drought now runs from York County eastward to part of Washington County.

FARMINGTON, Maine - The associate director for the Maine Office of Substance Abuse is facing a charge of operating under the influence.

Police say 62-year-old Joan Smyrski of Jefferson was charged with drunken driving after being stopped Sunday evening in the Franklin County town of Avon. She was freed on $150 cash bail.

The Sun Journal reports that Smyrski is scheduled to speak about opioid-prescribing limits at the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association's annual fall conference in November.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was among members of the House Financial Services Committee who harshly criticized Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. 

Stumpf has come under fire for bilking customers after the bank opened accounts without customers' permission.

“I’m looking at this pattern of you folks ripping off your customers, getting caught, paying a fine and doing the damn thing all over again,” Poliquin said.

Advocates for Maine’s public campaign finance program are touting what they say is a significant decrease in private donations to candidates vying for seats in the state Legislature.

Andrew Bossie with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections says the 22 percent dip in private donations correlates with increased participation in the state’s clean election program.

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