Politics

Political news

With the end of the session in site, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee had hoped to wrap up work on a two-year state budget next week. But Gov. Paul LePage has just handed them an extra assignment, in the form of a 133-page change package. It contains several major proposals that lawmakers are just now seeing for the first time.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public/file

The Democratic majority in the Maine House of Representatives now totals just four votes following a decision by two members to unenroll from the party.

Representatives Denise Harlow, of Portland, and Ralph Chapman, of Brooksville, announced Friday that they're unenrolling from the party.

Harlow wouldn't go into specifics about her decision, saying only that she's become increasingly frustrated that independent voices often go unheard in the Democratic caucus.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is tweaking his $6.8 billion budget proposal to add funds for private lawyers and cut a civil rights program, among other things.
 
He's proposing to eliminate the attorney general's program aiming to reduce bias in schools, saving $550,000 over two years. His administration says the program should be under the Department of Education, if lawmakers keep it.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Legislature is taking steps that could undo the voter-approved new system for elections.
 
The Legislative Council on Thursday voted to allowed lawmakers to consider two new bills over the coming weeks.
 
The Maine State Supreme Judicial Court said this week that a new system allowing voters to rank their top candidate picks runs afoul of the Maine Constitution.
 

Maine Votes on Pot, Voting, Taxes and Wages All Get Pushback

May 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine voters thought they approved sweeping changes to the state's rules on marijuana, taxes, voting and the minimum wage when they went to the polls in November.
 
Not so fast. And, in some cases, perhaps not at all.
 

A Washington, D.C.-based progressive think tank estimates that more than 117,000 Mainers would lose health insurance under the House GOP bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Center for American Progress estimates that over the next decade, 57,000 people on Medicaid in Maine would lose coverage, as well as 47,000 people in the individual market. About 12,000 people are estimated to lose employer-based coverage.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public file

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District and 85 of her colleagues have sent a letter to the interior secretary warning him that only Congress has the “Constitutional authority to revoke or shrink a national monument.” Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine has also written a letter to defend it.

North Woods National Monument Opens Fully to the Public

May 26, 2017
Nick Sambides Jr. / Bangor Daily News

KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Maine — Amid an ongoing federal review and contention over the signs advertising it, Maine’s national monument opened fully for its first full year on Thursday with a handful of visitors more interested in nature than politics.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new report in Maine shows a mixed bag when it comes to job outcomes for those kicked off temporary cash assistance in 2012.

A report released Thursday by Republican Gov. Paul LePage's policy office looks at what happened to the 1,856 individuals who left Maine's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The LePage administration says after a 60-month time limit took effect in May 2012, individuals without a record of employment before the change saw higher wages.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A leading Republican says Maine's governor is walking back from a proposal to close a minimum-security prison in June.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage proposed shutting down Downeast Correctional Facility to save $5 million annually as part of his two-year, $6.8 billion budget. A legislative panel expressed support for funding the prison months ago, but last week, the LePage administration issued layoff notices to the prison's roughly 50 staff members.

PORTLAND, Maine - An adviser to Republican Gov. Paul LePage is leaving the administration to become a speechwriter for President Donald Trump.
 
David Sorensen called the new job an "extraordinary honor.''
 
In a social media post, he said it's an opportunity "to help President Trump make America great again just as Governor LePage has made Maine great again.''
 

A last-minute proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to phase out the Maine Turnpike Authority was taken up by the Legislature’s Transportation Committee Thursday and then swiftly and unanimously defeated.

It's Thursday and time for the Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics. This week, Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Legislature as an independent; Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising, a former Republican lawmaker; and Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in Augusta as a Democrat.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A leading Republican says Maine’s governor is walking back from a proposal to close a minimum-security prison in June.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage proposed shutting down Downeast Correctional Facility to save $5 million annually as part of his two-year, $6.8 billion budget. A legislative panel expressed support for funding the prison months ago, but last week, the LePage administration issued layoff notices to the prison’s roughly 50 staff members.

At a hearing on the Army budget, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine questioned officials from the Army about the need for a new rifle for ground forces.

King says several of the U.S.’ potential adversaries are now using body armor that will stop the standard bullets used by U.S. troops.

“The current M4 caliber ammunition will not penetrate the newly developed body armor of our adversaries, which is, to me, a disaster in waiting,” he says.

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