A 30-year-old land conservation program, whose last two rounds of voter-approved bond funding were delayed in a political battle with Gov. Paul LePage, says it should have the cash in hand this fall.

Land for Maine’s Future Director Sarah Demers says the group is putting out a call for new project proposals focused on protecting important land resources.

One woman who is cheering Gov. Paul LePage’s decision to release 17 prisoners early is Carol Blakeny of Cumberland.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t a big LePage fan until now,” she says with a laugh.

Blakeny says her son has been told that he’s among several inmates at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren whose sentence is being commuted by the governor.

Gov. Paul LePage has allowed the early release of 17 prisoners through conditional commutation orders, according to his office.

The governor’s action follows the recent announcement that he has been reviewing the release of an unknown number of prisoners deemed to be lower-risk offenders.

According to the administration, the commutation orders are based on recommendations by the Department of Corrections. The LePage administration billed the orders as an effort to modernize the prison system and bolster the workforce.

Parents, students and community members from across Lewiston shared their grief in an emotional meeting Thursday night following the suicide of a 13-year-old student.

The mood was somber inside Lewiston’s Green Ladle, where about 200 residents gathered to talk about the death of 13-year-old Anie Graham earlier in the week.

Some students said they wanted everyone to remember Graham for who she was — bright and accomplished — while others said the community needs to do a better job supporting students who might be at risk.

The first two canines have graduated successfully from a pilot program designed to give troubled dogs another chance at finding a forever home while teaching inmates how to handle and train animals.

Beyond the Bars is a project of the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, and the Brunswick-based Coastal Humane Society.

Shelter officials say Jake and Melvin were the kinds of dogs least likely to find a home. They were large in size, plus bore the scars from what they describe as “horrific” backgrounds.

City of Portland

Portland officials unveiled its plan for a new waterfront park Thursday night at a public forum.

The design caught some criticism at the forum for being expensive, with a price tag of about $16 million. Waterfront Coordinator Bill Needelman says the city manager had asked for a plan that was “equal to the space,” without regard for the cost.

Needleman says the park is an investment in making the area resilient to the sea-level rise and increase in heavy storms associated with climate change.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public/file

The Democratic majority in the Maine House of Representatives now totals just four votes following a decision by two members to unenroll from the party.

Representatives Denise Harlow, of Portland, and Ralph Chapman, of Brooksville, announced Friday that they're unenrolling from the party.

Harlow wouldn't go into specifics about her decision, saying only that she's become increasingly frustrated that independent voices often go unheard in the Democratic caucus.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is tweaking his $6.8 billion budget proposal to add funds for private lawyers and cut a civil rights program, among other things.
He's proposing to eliminate the attorney general's program aiming to reduce bias in schools, saving $550,000 over two years. His administration says the program should be under the Department of Education, if lawmakers keep it.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Legislature is taking steps that could undo the voter-approved new system for elections.
The Legislative Council on Thursday voted to allowed lawmakers to consider two new bills over the coming weeks.
The Maine State Supreme Judicial Court said this week that a new system allowing voters to rank their top candidate picks runs afoul of the Maine Constitution.

Maine Votes on Pot, Voting, Taxes and Wages All Get Pushback

9 hours ago

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine voters thought they approved sweeping changes to the state's rules on marijuana, taxes, voting and the minimum wage when they went to the polls in November.
Not so fast. And, in some cases, perhaps not at all.

A Washington, D.C.-based progressive think tank estimates that more than 117,000 Mainers would lose health insurance under the House GOP bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Center for American Progress estimates that over the next decade, 57,000 people on Medicaid in Maine would lose coverage, as well as 47,000 people in the individual market. About 12,000 people are estimated to lose employer-based coverage.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public file

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District and 85 of her colleagues have sent a letter to the interior secretary warning him that only Congress has the “Constitutional authority to revoke or shrink a national monument.” Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine has also written a letter to defend it.

North Woods National Monument Opens Fully to the Public

13 hours ago
Nick Sambides Jr. / Bangor Daily News

KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Maine — Amid an ongoing federal review and contention over the signs advertising it, Maine’s national monument opened fully for its first full year on Thursday with a handful of visitors more interested in nature than politics.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Fishing regulators who are looking to ban most fishing from proposed deep sea coral protection zones off of New England are taking feedback from fishermen and the public before they vote.
The New England Fishery Management Council cast a vote in favor of the protections in April. The council also voted to allow some lobster fishing in the coral zones.
The proposal is the subject of a public hearing in Ellsworth on Thursday and an online public hearing on Friday.

PORTER, Maine - Maine game wardens have recovered a body from a pond in the town of Porter.
Wardens say they were searching for a man who never came home from fishing Wednesday night. He was reported missing Thursday morning.
WGME-TV says wardens identified the victim Thursday as 54-year-old Dwayne Day from Porter. They say he probably drowned after his boat capsized.