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Maine lawmakers may make it tougher for citizens to get questions on ballots as Gov. Paul LePage has renewed his call to reform a system he's called too representative of liberal-leaning Mainers.

In his final State of the State address Tuesday, the Republican chastised out-of-state, special interests for pushing Maine ballot campaigns, and urged that lawmakers require the campaigns to get equal support across the state.

Two ATV riders have been rescued after falling through the ice on a lake in Hancock County.

After receiving a 911 call, the fire department acted quickly to pull the pair and the machines from Alamoosook Lake in Orland Friday afternoon. Officials say the two people were extremely cold but otherwise OK. They were taken to the hospital.

Fire officials say moving water underneath the ice made the surface weaker than the riders expected. They are reminding people to thoroughly check ice before venturing out on it because changes in the ice can happen within a few feet.

LePage Vows To Push Through $950M Project To Send Quebec Hydropower Through Maine

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Colin Perkel / AP - BDN

Massachusetts chose a $950 million project headed by Maine utility Central Maine Power to be its backup option for a massive clean energy procurement that appeared headed to New Hampshire before regulators there nixed it last week.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s energy czar said his boss would “push this right through” the rest of the permitting process handled by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, but it could set off confrontations with environmentalists who have been cool to, but quiet on, the plan.

Eight candidates are asking a judge to make sure the state's ranked-choice voting system is in place in time for the June primary elections.

The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has submitted petitions for a people's veto referendum aimed nullifying a legislative delay. If there are enough signatures, then the legislative delay would be stayed, allowing the system to be implemented in June.

But committee chairman Dick Woodbury said Friday that there's still uncertainty, and he hopes a Superior Court judge will "establish some clarity."

The Maine Republican Party's executive director says he alone was responsible for running an anonymous website that published articles Democrats say slandered their unsuccessful local candidate.

The state ethics commission's staff on Friday said GOP Executive Director Jason Savage denied using his party's resources to fund the Maine Examiner website.

The staff said it will be up to commissioners to decide this Thursday whether to open a formal investigation into whether the GOP violated campaign finance law.

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The LePage administration last year announced a plan to devote almost $5 million in state and federal money to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, especially for people who don't have health insurance. The "Opioid Health Home" program was supposed to be a big step forward in comprehensively dealing with the opioid crisis.

Maine.gov

A shipyard from East Boothbay has been chosen to build a 250-passenger vessel for the Maine State Ferry Service.

The Maine Department of Transportation is awarding the $8.8 million contract to Washburn & Doughty. The Maine State Ferry Service serves the island communities of Vinalhaven, North Haven, Islesboro, Swans island, Frenchboro and Matinicus.

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Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is forming a new task force to investigate the underlying causes of a recent increase in police shootings.

Mills invited 13 people with expertise in the fields of addiction, domestic violence and crime to participate.

She says she wants members of the group to start out by asking a lot of questions.

Maine Public

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that would require more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives.

Ellsworth democratic representative Louis Luchini is sponsoring the legislation, which would require more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine sharply criticized military efforts to help law enforcement interdict drugs coming into the United States.

King says there has been little, if any progress, by the military in keeping drugs out of the United States even as the opioid crisis continues to grow and claim more lives.

“It is inexcusable to be sitting here three or four years later and still only being able to interdict 25 percent of the drug shipments that we know about,” he says.

Portland is joining forces with South Portland to develop a collaborative climate action plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Troy Moon, Portland’s sustainability coordinator, presented the plan before the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee on Thursday.

Moon, who has been working on the plan for six months, says their goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2050 is no easy task.

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President Donald Trump, members of Congress and state lawmakers were quick to react to another mass shooting — this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Maine advocates for civil and reproductive rights are urging senators Susan Collins and Angus King to reject the nomination of Kyle Duncan to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eliza Townsend of the Maine Women's Lobby says Duncan was the lead counsel who represented Hobby Lobby, the crafts retailer that successfully won an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's mandate that requires employers to cover birth control for employees.

“He is unfit to be a federal judge,” says Townsend.

Maine.gov

The State Senate, with a vote of 31 to 3, has signaled its desire to keep the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Washington County open for another year. But the margin of support in the House was less than what is needed to override an expected veto of the bill by Governor LePage, who abruptly closed the facility last week.

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A unique school tradition will come to an end in one Aroostook County town next year. Wednesday night, the school board for SAD 1, in Presque Isle, voted to eliminate “harvest break” – a three week period in the fall when students leave the classroom and help to harvest potatoes. In recent years other towns have also eliminated the break. However, school officials expect that the unusual practice will continue in a few places.

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