Maine and other states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana face a growing cloud of uncertainty following signals of a possible enforcement crackdown from the Trump administration. In Augusta today, a panel charged with implementing Maine’s new marijuana law heard from stakeholders directly affected, including the state’s business community.

Committee co-chairman Sen. Roger Katz, a Republican from Augusta, opened the crowded hearing by acknowledging the daunting task the panel faces in implementing the new law.

A Portland firm that specializes in connecting employers with workers has expanded its website to included student internships into the mix of options for job seekers.

The Live + Work in Maine website is operated by Pro Search of Portland. College administrators, such as James Westhoff at Husson University in Bangor, say students are increasingly using internships to secure employment opportunities.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A bill that would expand Maine’s 15-cent deposit to miniature liquor bottles could be taken up by rank-and-file lawmakers as soon as next month.

Supporters of the measure, such as co-sponsor Rep. Betty Austin, a Skowhegan Democrat, say the deposit is needed to clear the highways of the discarded 50-milliliter liquor bottles, also known as “nips.” She says current practices suggest that many Mainers need to be more aware of where they’re drinking and what they’re doing with their empty bottles.

Short-term rental company Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will start collecting sales taxes from customers in April. That puts the company — and its hosts in Maine — on the same page as Gov. Paul LePage.

LePage says he wants to update the tax code to better account for the burgeoning short-term rental market. The company now says it’s voluntarily agreeing to automatically collect sales taxes on Maine rentals, starting April 1.

Independent Sen. Angus King joined 18 other members of Congress Tuesday to introduce a bill designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The bill would allow Americans access to FDA-approved drugs from other countries, such as Canada.

King says the cost of prescription drugs is overwhelming Mainers, particularly those on fixed incomes.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

LEWISTON, Maine - Six months after the creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a new nonprofit group has been formed to preserve and protect it. 

The Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a private group with a 13-member board of directors.  Secretary Cathy Johnson says the initial goal is to attract more members of the public to volunteer in the monument and work on educational programs about it.

Maine's unemployment rate fell last year, to 3.9 percent from 4.4 percent in 2015.   

That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the percentage of Mainers in the workforce climbed from just below 60 percent to just above.

The state's jobless rate for last year was a full percentage point below the national rate and the New England average.

Maine was one of 27 states where unemployment fell last year.

BIDDEFORD, Maine - A Biddeford man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after admitting in a plea deal he started a September 2014 fire that killed two people.
Twenty-year-old Dylan Collins pleaded guilty to arson and felony murder charges. He apologized in a statement read during his sentencing on Monday.

Maine’s two U.S. senators are expressing concerns about reports that officials in the Trump administration attempted to enlist senior intelligence officials and members of Congress to push back against news reports focusing on President Donald Trump associates’ links to Russia.

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland police are investigating the apparent homicide of a 35-year-old man who was found dead in a car in the city's West End Monday afternoon. 

Assistant Portland Police Chief Vern Malloch says officers responded to a 9-1-1 call.  He says the victim's identity is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

"We are working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Maine Attorney General's Office in that investigation," Malloch says.

The record warmth in northern New England may not be over.
The National Weather Service says the temperature is projected to climb to a record-high 65 degrees on Wednesday in Concord, New Hampshire. In Portland, Maine, the temperature is projected to climb to 57 degrees, just 1 degree shy of the daily record.
The warmth continues from last week.
Concord set three records in a row from Thursday through Saturday. The period included the highest temperature ever recorded in Concord in February: 69 degrees.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's towns and state legislators will tackle the subject of marijuana legalization in separate events.
The Legislature's Marijuana Implementation Committee is taking public comment on Tuesday in Augusta on subjects such as how to regulate and tax the substance. Also Tuesday, the Maine Municipal Association is holding an event called "Lifting the Haze: Marijuana and Legal Considerations.''

Growing Problem: Pot Lights Give Ham Radio Operators a Buzz

13 hours ago

AUGUSTA, Maine - Ham radio operators say their frequencies are increasingly getting a harsh buzz from a component of the indoor lamps used to grow pot.
The American Radio Relay League has been filing complaints with the Federal Communications Commission over the past several years and wants federal regulators to halt the marketing and sale of illegal grow light ballasts.

A bill that would set a firm cap on the number of elver fishing licenses issued each year in Maine received broad support at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee. The bill would also allow a small number of new fishermen into the fishery.

The elver, or baby eel, fishery is one of the most lucrative in Maine. Considered a delicacy in several Asian countries, elvers were fetching close to $2,000 dollars a pound last year. But because of the pressure on the resource, the fishery has been closed to new fishermen since 2013.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

In the aftermath of the presidential election, Muslims have received an increase in two kinds of attention: support and derision. In an effort to reach out to groups from both viewpoints, the Maine Muslim Community Center in Portland hosted an open house on Sunday so people could learn about their faith.

As a second-grade teacher new to Portland, Emily Troll wants to connect with the families of the Somali students she works with. She says that has been increasingly important recently, because of the changes she’s noticed in her classroom.