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Central Maine Power’s customers will see some significant savings on their bills starting this summer, thanks to the end of expensive, long-term power contracts.

The contracts originated under a federal law that aimed to hedge against price surges seen in the 1970s energy crisis. Maine Public Utilities Commission spokesman Harry Lanphear says decades-long contracts Maine utilities signed with Maine-based biomass generators ultimately locked them into rates that were far above market rates.

With new state standards in place designed to reduce blood-lead levels in children, the City of Portland is urging landlords and homeowners to apply for help with lead abatement in their homes.

“Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation,” says Mary Davis with the City of Portland Housing and Community Development Division.

Davis says there’s no way to make a pre-1978 home absolutely free of lead, but funds from a newly acquired, three-year federal Housing and Urban Development grant can help make older homes more “lead safe.”

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's Democratic House speaker says she won't convene a committee to investigate whether the House chairman of the taxation committee violated ethics rules for working for a ballot referendum campaign.
 
Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki asked House Speaker Sara Gideon to convene the House ethics committee to consider whether Democratic Rep. Ryan Tipping has a conflict of interest for accepting at least $9,000 from a group that successfully pushed for a new income surtax to fund public schools.
 

LePage Asks Sessions to Boost Drug Prosecution

13 hours ago

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's Republican governor has asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ramp up prosecution of drug crimes and says the U.S. Attorney's Office isn't actively pursuing drug dealers.
 
The Associated Press obtained a copy of a Jan. 26 letter in which Gov. Paul LePage tells the former U.S. senator that slow federal prosecution is straining Maine's resources. LePage says the small state is forced to prosecute and imprison most of the people who break "the most serious'' federal laws.
 

White House Adviser Asked FBI to Refute Russia Story

17 hours ago
Susan Walsh / Associated Press

WASHINGTON  — A White House official says chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to help dispute media reports that President Donald Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election.

The official says Priebus' request came after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report describing Trump advisers' contacts with Russia was not accurate. As of Thursday, the FBI had not stated that position publicly.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine attorney general's office and federal authorities have filed a complaint against three corporations and six individuals accused of falsely advertising, marketing, distributing and selling pills for joint pain and memory problems.
 
The Portland Press Herald reports the consumer fraud lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in federal court. Two corporations and four individuals have agreed to settle for a combined $500,000.
 

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine fishing regulators are temporarily closing several scallop fishing areas beginning this weekend to prevent the valuable shellfish from over-harvest.
 
WCSH-TV reports the state Department of Marine Resources closures take effect on Sunday for the Damariscotta River in Lincoln County, North Haven and mid-Penobscot Bay.
 
The closures will also take place in the Lower Blue Hill Bay and Jericho Bay area, and the Chandler Bay and Head Harbor area.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - A trio of Maine transportation projects is on a wish list that governors have sent to President Donald Trump.
 
The Sun Journal reports that Maine is seeking $460 million worth of projects to improve bridges, rail lines as well as barge service between Portland and mid-Atlantic ports.
 

Tom Brady: The Movie? Fans Divided and Foes Say They'll Pass

19 hours ago
Elise Amendola / Associated Press

BOSTON - A new book and a movie are in the works about Tom Brady and the "Deflategate'' suspension he overcame to earn an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl ring.

But Patriots Nation seems ambivalent, and the superstar quarterback's foes say they'll take a pass.

Author Casey Sherman and Boston writer Dave Wedge are collaborating on the book under the working title "Let's Go!'' - Brady's rallying cry.

The pair co-authored "Boston Strong,'' which inspired this year's "Patriots Day'' film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

LEWISTON, Maine - Ben Chin, the political engagement director for the Maine People's Alliance, has become the first candidate to announce he's running for mayor of Lewiston this November.

Speaking to a crowd at Museum LA in Lewiston Thursday night, Chin said he won't be alone in the race.

Members of two legislative committees heard more details Thursday about a plan to expand treatment for opioid addiction to several hundred more Mainers. The surge in overdoses last year to an average of one death a day helped drive the proposal.

It's Thursday and time for the 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, a former Republican lawmaker; and Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in Augusta as a Democrat.

Democratic lawmakers clashed with DHHS commissioner Mary Mayhew Thursday over the agency’s proposal to dramatically cut state funds for chronic disease and tobacco cessation programs. The proposal is part of Gov. Paul LePage’s budget, and reduces funding to the Fund for Healthy Maine by 70 percent.

During the public hearing, Democratic Rep. Patricia Hymanson of York told Mayhew that proposal gutted the public health program.

“What you’re doing is taking away a public fund in public health and driving it into a different place. Just to be clear,” she says.

Maine Department of Corrections

For more than 30 years, the population in the Down East town of Machiasport has remained virtually unchanged, at about 1,100 residents. But that number could drop by more than 10 percent if state lawmakers agree to Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to close the Downeast Correctional Facility.

PORTLAND, Maine — A ceremony honoring Portland’s police chief has been interrupted by protesters angered by the fatal shooting of a man by police last weekend.

The Portland Press Herald reports that about a dozen protesters stood up, raised their hands and began shouting Wednesday night as the City Council honored Chief Michael Sauschuck for being named Police Chief of the Year for 2017 by the Maine Association of Police.

Mayor Ethan Strimling adjourned the meeting until the protesters left. They chanted "black lives matter" outside City Hall.

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