News

LEWISTON, Maine - Most of Maine's students are performing at grade level in science, but far fewer are proficient in Math and English, according to new statewide assessment data.

Newly released numbers from the Maine Department of Education show that last year, only about 38 percent of students rated as proficient in math on Maine's statewide assessment test. Fifty-one percent were at or above grade level in English and 61 percent met the state benchmark in science.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Water District plans to discuss a bid to ban graffiti on a so-called graffiti wall at the East End Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The Portland Press Herald reports the district’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss the issue at a workshop on Monday night.

Bayside resident Jay York had asked the board at its Nov. 28 meeting to consider banning graffiti painting on the wall and converting it to a mural.

Newly elected House Speaker Sara Gideon says replacing lost manufacturing jobs and reversing child poverty are her priorities for the new legislative session. Both issues follow an election in which Democrats again lost ground in rural areas of the state.

“We can’t let even one of those kids fall through the cracks. So we’re going to be absolutely on the attack about really making sure that we’re raising kids, and their families, out of poverty,” she says.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau says a citizen initiative that raised the minimum wage will need to be amended to reinstate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

Thibodeau's statement puts him in early alignment with Gov. Paul LePage, but at odds with newly-elected Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon.

"Before we left this building last spring there was no question: I talked to Republicans and Democrats alike. All of them said that the tip credit needed to be fixed," Thibodeau says.

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal figures indicate that Maine's economy grew just over half a percent between April and June of this year.

That's less than New England as a whole, and the U.S. as a whole, both of which grew between 1 and 2 percent.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Ceremonies were held around the state today to mark the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Among those gathered at Fort Allen Park in Portland was Marine veteran John McLeod, who was 18 years old and serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Bar Harbor at the time of the attack in 1941.

He says he tries to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day every year.

"I doubt if I'll be around next year — I'm 93 right now. I've been trying to come here every year if I could, and of course every year it gets colder," he jokes.

PORTLAND, Maine - The U.S. International Trade Commission announced yesterday it will extend import duties on coated paper from China and Indonesia.  

Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King welcomed the news. "Maine's paper-makers can compete with anyone on a level playing field," the two say, in a joint statement.

The senators wrote that the import tariff will support companies - such as Verso Paper - that employ hundreds of Mainers.  Verso was one of the companies that petitioned the trade commission to extend the import tariff.

AUGUSTA, Maine - As he did in a letter to lawmakers after their election, Gov. Paul LePage has again called for a delay in implementation of ballot questions 2 and 4, approved last month by voters. 

LePage made the remarks at ceremonies in Augusta to swear in the new Legislature. “I think it’s important, on these two issues, these two bills, that we work together to find a mechanism that meets the will of the people but does not hurt our economy.”

LEWISTON, Maine - The Maine Justice Foundation is launching a new LGBT Justice Fund. 

Executive Director Diana Scully says six founders have already stepped forward to contribute to the fund, which will provide support for vulnerable LGBT people who need civil legal aid. 

"Or, in some instances, there may be groups who would like to do some systemic work to tackle issues that face LGBT people," Scully says.

A launch event is planned for Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Portland.  Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank will deliver the keynote speech.

MACHIAS, Maine - Robert Coles was 17 years old when the Japanese bombs and torpedoes rained down on Navy ships on a peaceful Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor.

Coles, now 92, was among the youngest of the survivors of the attack. The radioman was the first to reach his destroyer's 50-caliber machine guns. He broke open a box of ammunition and began firing at the Japanese aircraft bombing and strafing the military installation.

Mike Groll / Associated Press file

By Michael Casey and Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PETERSHAM, Mass. — The scourge of insect pests is expected to put almost two-thirds of America’s forests at risk over the next decade.

The problem is projected to cost several billion dollars every year for dead tree removal and jeopardize longstanding U.S. industries that rely on timber.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The newly elected members of Maine’s legislature are traveling to Augusta to be sworn in.

The session officially convenes on Wednesday.

November’s election left the Legislature increasingly divided, and GOP Gov. Paul LePage and the Democrats’ nominated House Speaker Sara Gideon are already at odds over oversight of a proposed mental health facility.

LePage sent letters to Republican and Democratic legislators saying he would sign their election certification, but added he doesn’t trust the election results.

Maine native Ruth Moore had to fight for 23 years to get Veterans Affairs compensation for disabilities caused by being raped while she was in the Navy. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District sponsored legislation named for Moore that has been included in a broader measure dealing with the Veterans Administration.

“It’s an important step in making sure the VA follows through on its promises to fairly treat our veterans,” she says. “Almost every day I hear from another veteran who is the survivor of military sexual trauma.”

Zoe Sobel / Alaska's Energy Desk

In a windowless room at Maine Maritime Academy, Glenn Burleigh is standing calmly at the controls of a massive tanker. He is stuck, encased in a sea of ice, waiting for an icebreaker to break him free.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

In just a few weeks, new limits on opioid prescribing will take effect in Maine.

Prescription pain medication continues to play a role in overdose deaths across the country, and a state law is designed to reduce abuse by curbing doses. But some lawmakers say the new restrictions in Maine will actually cause more harm to some patients, and they plan to introduce legislation to soften the law that was recently passed.

Noreen Alton-Jones of Standish knows the power of opioids.

“They make the pain go away, which is a good thing,” she says.

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