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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

The NPR Politics team is live blogging the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The live blog includes streaming video, with posts featuring highlights, context and analysis from NPR reporters and correspondents.

AUGUSTA, Maine — What a croc!

A student at a University of Maine campus is in trouble for taking his five baby pet alligators inside a taxicab.

The pet reptiles began crawling around the cab Tuesday after a box tipped over. Cab driver Frank Folsom said he helped round the reptiles, each longer than a foot.

A broad coalition of solar power businesses, environmental advocates and industrial energy users want state regulators to reconsider new rules for solar power adopted earlier this year. But the move may just be a prelude to litigation — or legislative action.

In January Maine’s Public Utilities Commission ordered a 15-year ramp-down of credits rooftop solar users can earn when they put excess electricity on the power grid, often called “net metering.”

The U.S. is not putting enough effort into defending itself against cyberattack, according to U.S. Sen. Angus King, who delivered his concerns to colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

King says the emphasis has been on building new hardware and more sophisticated weapons while the Russians have focused on ways to disrupt the increasingly technology based defense systems.

“I did a quick calculation. For the price of one F-35 the Russians can deploy 4,000 hackers and trolls. And they have been remarkably successful at a very low price,” he says.

MOSCOW — A Ukrainian lawmaker has published a document that he said ties Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, to attempts to hide a $750,000 payment from a pro-Russia political party.

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, calls the allegations "baseless" and says they should be "summarily dismissed."

Maine's Chief Utility Consumer Advocate Target of Bill

15 hours ago

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill by a Maine lawmaker whose son heads a utility that's butted heads with the state's public advocate wants to put the advocate's office under a board's oversight.

Republican Rep. Roger Sherman says he's sponsoring the bill because he's not always "sure" of Public Advocate Timothy Schneider's policy recommendations. Republican Gov. Paul LePage appointed Schneider, whose office makes policy positions independent of the governor's office.

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public

A new report released by the Maine Brewers’ Guild is projecting growth of nearly 40 percent next year as the number of Maine’s craft brewers continues to grow.

Maine Public/file

David Rockefeller — banker, philanthropist and summer resident of Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island — died Monday, just a few months shy of his 102nd birthday.

To mark his 100th birthday in 2015, Rockefeller donated 1,000 acres of land adjacent to Acadia. At the time, Rockefeller said he was compelled by his personal connection to Mount Desert.

“I realized that Seal Harbor, maybe more than any other location that I can think of in the world, has been important to me since I first came here when I was three months old, in my parent’s hands,” he said.

PORTLAND, Maine - Two lawmakers from Maine want to know what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is doing to address trouble in the Atlantic scallop fishing industry.
 
U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, say NOAA should work to ensure sustainability in the high-value fishery.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - New drivers in Maine would have to wait more months for an intermediate driver's license under one lawmaker's proposal.

The Legislature on Tuesday will hold public hearings on bills that would tackle texting while driving and increase requirements for young drivers.

Republican Rep. MaryAnne Kinney's legislation would require people younger than 21 years old to hold a driver learner's permit for a year, up from six months.

Driver education schools would be able to issue learner's permits under Democratic Rep. John Schneck's bill.

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland's City Council has failed to approve a proposal that would have allowed residents to vote on a $64 million school bond to fund school renovations.

Council members could not agree on a plan for voters to evaluate after a seven hour meeting Monday night. The bond would cover renovations for four of the city's elementary schools. Three plans were presented.

Many parents present at the meeting said they were in favor of the $64 million plan and were frustrated with the deadlock. Other residents voiced concerns over raising taxes to fund the bond.

State officials are applauding a decision by Amazon to begin collecting and remitting Maine sales tax beginning April 1.

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais says Maine businesses can go toe-to-toe with the very best out-of-state companies provided they are competing on an equal playing field.

In a written statement Monday afternoon, Gervais says that Amazon’s decision is an important first step in leveling the playing field.

Maine Warden Service

A tip to the Maine Warden’s Service resulted in charges for five hunters from Massachusetts and one from Maine after the group allegedly killed nearly 90 snowshoe hares during an illegal weekend hunting trip to Great Duck Island.

Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Wardens Service said the men were apprehended Saturday on Great Duck, about 10 miles off Mount Desert Island.

The issue of metal mining in Maine and how it should be regulated has been debated numerous times in the Legislature, but never settled. Environmentalists and residents of Aroostook County converged on the State House Monday for another go.

Lawmakers are reviewing seven different bills. One contains provisional mining rules unanimously approved by the Board of Environmental Protection in January. It would allow mining operators to apply for a permit, and mining companies would have to provide proof that they have the financial means to pay for cleanup costs.

The voter-approved surtax to provide additional money for Maine’s schools was both attacked and supported at a lengthy public hearing before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee.

School funding has long stirred political passions in Maine. In 2004 a group led by the Maine Education Association successfully passed a citizen-initiated referendum calling on the state to pay for 55 percent of the cost of local schools. Successive legislatures ignored that vote.

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