News

Both business and labor interests are supporting legislation that would give Maine companies a preference in any state contract for goods or services.

State Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democrat from Allagash who sponsored the bill, says he wants any tax dollars spent by the state to have maximum economic effect by staying in Maine.

“It’s all state contracts, construction, professional services, labor services. Maine companies would have preference,” he says.

BANGOR, Maine - Maine restaurants and inns are reporting a banner year for 2016, with more than $3.6 billion in total sales.

Steve Hewins, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association, said lodging and restaurant sales rose 7 percent over 2015, with total sales generating $300 million in state tax revenue.

Hewins says the industry hopes that the two past highly successful tourist seasons are the beginning of a trend.

PORTLAND, Maine - South Portland and Scarborough will conduct pilot projects soon in collecting food waste for composting. 

South Portland's pilot will begin in May.  Travis Wagner, an Environmental Policy Professor at the University of Southern Maine, will be evaluating the program, "trying to figure out the percentage of people that participate on a weekly basis, and then trying to measure the amount of food waste that's actually collected."

Wagner also says he'll try to talk with participants to find out if there were any "barriers" to their participation.   

PORTLAND, Maine - A group of senators including Maine's Sen. Angus King wants to overhaul the way the federal Department of Veterans Affairs handles appeals.
 
King, an independent, is joining Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Jon Tester of Montana on the legislation. The senators say more than 450,000 appeals are pending before the VA and the system needs updating.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Advocates say that a Republican's bill would help the state address a looming shortage of home health care workers.
 
Assistant House Minority Leader Ellie Espling's bill would direct the state Department of Health and Human Services to increase reimbursement rates for home-based care services.
 
Her bill is set for a public hearing Monday.
 
A 2016 report by Burns & Associates recommended the rate increases and the Legislature last year ratified the first half of the increase.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - University of Maine System officials say students will likely see an increase in tuition and fees this fall.
 
The Portland Press Herald reports that officials said Sunday the additional tuition, fees and room and board costs will result in an overall increase of 2.9 percent. The increase would come after a six-year tuition freeze.
 
Officials say they intend to increase tuition annually, tied to the rate of inflation.
 

Haven Daley / Associated Press

When recreational marijuana is available for retail sale in Maine sometime next year, it will generate an estimated $12 million a year in tax revenue.

Wild Picker Law Would Bring Rules For Maine Foragers

8 hours ago

PORTLAND, Maine - Get off my lawn, and out of my blueberry bush.
 
That's the message in a proposal before the Maine state house that would restrict foraging for wild, edible vegetables, fruits and funguses on private property.
 
Republican Sen. Thomas Saviello's proposal, as currently written, would prohibit the harvest of such food without written permission or a bill of sale from the owner of the property.
 

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine - Resi Stiegler and AJ Ginnis won slalom titles Sunday in the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf Mountain.

Stiegler was timed at 1:39.68 for her second U.S. slalom title and third national championship overall. The two-time Olympian won the slalom and giant slalom in 2007 at Alyeska, Alaska. Ginnis won his first U.S. title, beating four-time champion and U.S. ski team captain David Chodounsky by 0.15 seconds, in 1:35.75.

WASHINGTON - A federal judge has ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to revisit a decision not to list the blueback herring as a threatened species.
 
In a ruling Saturday, a District of Columbia judge said officials failed to offer a rational connection between the facts and two essential conclusions, and also failed to consider other aspects of the issue.
 
Blueback herring live along the Atlantic coast. They are born in inland rivers, spend most of their adult lives at sea, then return to rivers each spring to spawn.
 

Jennifer Mitchell /Maine Public

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's maple season seems to be off to a decent start, with no significant problems foreseen, as the state prepares to celebrate its 34th annual Maine Maple Sunday.

The man in charge of running the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland has been placed on administrative leave, according to published reports.

Long Creek Superintendent Jeffrey Merrill could not be reached for comment. But his leave comes after a series of incidents that have raised questions about policies and safety for youth at the state-run prison.

The lack of support for the GOP health care bill has Maine consumer advocacy groups and health care providers breathing sighs of relief — for now.

Consumer and provider groups across the U.S., including many in Maine, opposed the Republican bill.

“I’m feeling relief for all of the people who would have lost their health insurance coverage if this bill had moved forward,” says Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.

Maine’s unemployment rate fell by .3 percentage points between January and February to reach 3.2 percent.

State labor economist Glenn Mills says 13 of the last 16 months surveyed show an unemployment rate below 4 percent.

“So all the indicators of a fairly tight labor market are there. There are certainly pockets of weakness — in much of Northern Maine, the challenges in the forest economy and the like — but certainly from central Maine south it’s a fairly tight labor market,” he says.

Mills says there’s nothing very surprising in the latest numbers.

There’s a sales agreement in place between the Scarborough Downs harness racing track in southern Maine and a prospective buyer.

Scarborough Downs spokesman Mike Sweeney says the prospective buyer, whom he was not authorized to name, is doing due diligence and nothing has been finalized.

Meanwhile, harness racing is set to continue in Scarborough.

“We are opening up our live racing season tomorrow so Saturday, we’re racing Saturday and Sunday with a 1:30 post time,” Sweeney says.

Pages