SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's highest court has ruled that South Portland's liability insurer doesn't have to cover the city's rising legal fees in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
The Portland Press Herald reports the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decided Tuesday that the Maine Municipal Association Property & Casualty Pool has no duty to defend the city's Clear Skies ordinance.

PORTLAND, Maine - Researchers at the University of Maine say hemlock trees will be at risk of accelerated decline as winters warm in the Northeast.

Bill Livingston is associate professor of forest resources at UMaine.  He says in northern New England,  cold winter weather has been able to keep the insect that causes hemlock decline in check.

"But because the model we had was something where we could vary the temperature, we warmed up winter temperatures by 2 degrees and found that, yes, that decline of hemlock then started creeping northward," Livingston says.

Maine’s congressional delegation has split over a proposal that halts internet privacy regulations set to go into effect later this year.

The bill on its way to President Donald Trump would allow internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to monitor their customers’ online behavior, such as browsing history, financial information and location information. The providers could mine the information and sell the data or use it for highly targeted online ads — an industry worth an estimated $83 billion.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Interstate fishing regulators are sending a plan to try to fix New England's shuttered shrimp fishery to the public for a series of June hearings.

The northern shrimp fishery has been shut down for more than three years because of a collapse in population. The regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has been considering new ways to save the fishery for the shrimp, which were a popular winter seafood item in New England.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he slashes tips for restaurant servers and tells them to call their legislators in an effort to persuade lawmakers to restore the tip credit.
The Sun Journal reports that the Republican governor made the comments Tuesday to a radio host for Z105.5's Breakfast Club.
LePage says he cuts the tip in half and writes down the appropriate lawmaker's name. He says lawmakers must feel public pressure to take action.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Republican senator is exploring a possible 2018 run against incumbent independent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

Sen. Eric Brakey admit he is an underdog against King, who has served since 2013 and intends to run for re-election. Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in May that he also would run against King, if he's not given a position in Republican President Donald Trump's administration.

Brakey announced Wednesday that he formed a federal exploratory committee, which will raise funds for traveling and assess what it will take to run a viable campaign.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Republican leader of the Maine House wants to require testing of private wells that provide drinking water.

Half of Maine's population gets its drinking water from private wells, and the state says it assumes very few of them are routinely tested.

In contrast, public water supplies are tested on a monthly or annual basis, depending on how many customers they serve.

Minority Leader Ken Fredette is sponsoring a bill that would require testing of private wells for pollutants at least once every five years.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine brewers and an Icelandic shipping company are partnering to try to bring the Pine Tree State's suds to more of the world.
Eimskip and the Maine Brewers' Guild are set to announce the beer bond on Thursday morning in Portland at the International Marine Terminal.
The shipping company and the brewers' guild say craft beer is one of the fastest growing industries in Maine and had a statewide economic impact of more than $225 million last year. Major players in the craft beer world in Maine include Shipyard, Allagash and Maine Beer Company.

Staff at the Maine Public Utilities Commission say regulators should reject all bids received to provide new liquefied natural gas, or LNG, storage in the state. At the same time, Gov. Paul LePage is urging the Maine Public Utilities Commission to go ahead and sign a contract.

It’s a long time until the November 2018 election, but two-term Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn has formed an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent independent Sen. Angus King.

Brakey says in order to raise money to travel around the state and to test the political waters, a prospective candidate must file an exploratory committee with federal election officials.

AUGUSTA, Maine -  The state’s Economic Forecasting Commission has concluded that 2016 was a strong year for Maine’s economy, but members aren't sure whether that will continue in 2017.

The work of the Economic Forecasting Commission provides the basis for the separate Revenue Forecasting Committee to project state tax receipts next month.  

PORTLAND, Maine - Revised rules on the state's new opioid prescription law are due in the next few days - and Maine veterinarians are looking for some changes.

The law sets limits on opioid prescriptions, and it requires vets to check the state's database of prescription records for owners - or whoever brings an animal into the office - before prescribing opioids for a pet.

PORTLAND, Maine - The leaders of eight regional councils that manage fisheries are reaching out to President Donald Trump to express concern over the creation of marine monuments, such as one in the ocean off of New England.
President Barack Obama created the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument last year. It's made up of nearly 5,000 square miles of habitat, and is very unpopular with many commercial fishermen.

After the death last week of the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that the ACA was the law of the land for the foreseeable future. But that future is murky, with more reform attempts expected.

A biomass company at the center of a dispute over payments to loggers is now asking to change the terms of its state subsidy. The company says it wants to dispel the notion that taxpayers are getting a bad deal.