Maine has left nearly $2 billion of federal funds on the table over the past five years, according to a progressive think tank, which attributes half of that amount to a decision to not expand Medicaid.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy says it undertook the study to bring together scattered reports about grants not sought and available funds not accessed by the state. Center Director Garrett Martin says that in addition to the loss of Medicaid expansion funds under the Affordable Care Act, the state missed out on matching highway funds estimated at $196 million.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - An environmental advocacy group has contributed $10,000 toward South Portland's defense fund in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
The Portland Press Herald reports that advocacy group Protect South Portland presented a check to the City Council on Monday night, bringing the total for private contributions to the city's Clear Skies Legal Defense fund to $135,242.

Maine Athletes Win Gold, Bronze at Special Olympics World Winter Games

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Courtesy Special Olympics

Halfway across the world, Lucas Houk of Portland became a world champion on Monday.

Houk earned a gold medal while competing for Team USA at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games at Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria.

Houk won the Men’s 5K Cross Country Freestyle event, posting a time of 33 minutes, 2.20 seconds. His time was more than one minute faster than runner-up Wolfgang Leithner of Austria (34:15.20).

AUGUSTA, Maine - Two lawmakers are behind bills calling for paid family leave.

Independent Rep. Owen Casas's conceptual bill would require employers to provide more time and flexibility to certain employees who become parents.

Democratic Rep. Mattie Daughtry's bill would create a paid family leave insurance program funded by employee contributions.

It would provide either two-thirds of a person's average weekly wage or 100 percent of the state's average weekly wage for up to six weeks in any 12-month period.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

The NPR Politics team is 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

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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.