Political news

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Maine Democrats are in Lewiston this weekend for a state convention that the party hopes will energize activists for the upcoming elections. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a finding that Russia did try to influence the 2016 elections in support of Donald Trump. Both Maine senators, who serve on that committee, expect the threat of interference to continue in future elections.

Both Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King say that they think the Russians will again attempt to influence elections this year.

Collins says she expects to see more false stories and websites aimed at increasing political tensions.

It's Thursday and time again for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics.

This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney and former Democratic state lawmaker, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertizing and Marketing, who served in Augusta as a Republican, and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the legislature as an independent spoke with Keith Shortall.

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House are expected to vote Thursday or Friday on the merits of this year's farm bill. The bill makes numerous changes to ongoing programs, including strengthening work requirements for people who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Republican Second District Representative Bruce Poliquin says the bill will also offer some exemptions for Maine families who currently receive those SNAP benefits.

The LePage administration says state lawmakers must appropriate funding before a voter-approved Medicaid expansion can be rolled out.

The court filing this week says the Legislature must act because a statewide referendum did not specify where the money to expand Medicaid would come from.

Groups that support the Medicaid expansion sued after the administration missed an April 3 deadline for an application to receive an additional $525 million in annual federal funding. The LePage administration contends the deadline doesn't commence until money is appropriated.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Eleven candidates are vying for the major party gubernatorial nominations. Four more are running for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. But those numbers have yet to lead to saturation broadcast advertising.

“Morning Edition” host Irwin Gratz talks with Sam Surprise of Surprise Advertising and Brenda Garrand, a founder of Garrand Mohlenkamp. Both have years of experience in crafting political advertising and devising ad strategies.

For disclosure, Brenda Garrand is a board member of Maine Public.

The director of the LePage administration's Office of Policy and Management has resigned, and all but one member of the office has been reassigned to other state agencies.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the LePage administration did not announce Jonathan LaBonte's April 10 departure. A spokesperson said the administration does not publicize every resignation.

Maine Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin is backing President Donald Trump's plan to cut $15 billion in federal spending on children's health insurance and other programs, saying the money would be "wasted" otherwise.

Close to half of the proposed cuts target the Children's Health Insurance Program, canceling $5.1 billion in funding that wasn't used and $1.9 billion in what operates as a 'rainy-day' fund for states.

Poliquin tells the Lewiston Sun Journal the cuts will not affect federal spending or enrollment in the program.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Maine voters in next month’s state primary will be the first to use ranked-choice voting for state elections. Election experts say many voters don’t understand how the system works, but they’re hopeful voter education programs now running can help clear up any confusion.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is backing a Republican effort to nominate President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine State Police have arrested a group of people who were protesting outside the governor's mansion in Augusta.
Maine Poor People's Campaign spokeswoman Marie Follayttar Smith says the Monday protest was part of a nationwide campaign against systemic poverty and racism.
State police tell the Bangor Daily News that 18 people were arrested and charged with trespassing and failure to disperse.

When lawmakers abruptly ended the second regular session of the Legislature earlier this month, they left some unfinished business. Among the bills left in limbo or unfunded is one affecting Maine’s county jails, and failure to correct the situation could create some unintended serious consequences.

Like scores of other bills, a measure providing funding for county jails was left unaddressed when lawmakers adjourned. The bill would have provided $3 million to cover budget shortfalls this year and $14.2 million in state aid in the new budget year starting July 1.

Seth Wenig / Associated Press File

It’s being called a landmark Supreme Court decision and a historic day for American sports, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a federal ban on sports gambling is unconstitutional.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is going to host a series of informational meetings on the new voting system that will be used for the first time in June primaries.

Dunlap will hold four sessions starting on Monday in Biddeford. Then meetings will follow on May 15 in Bangor, May 21 in Presque Isle and May 29 in Lewiston.

He will also offer a question-and-answer session via Facebook Live on May 24.

The Libertarian Party of Maine is holding its biennial state convention in Bangor.

The party on Saturday is set to hear from Maine House candidates Cody Blackburn and Bonnie Young and New Hampshire U.S. House candidate Justin O'Donnell.

The Libertarian Party of Maine in 2016 submitted enough signatures to become an official political party and have its presidential and vice presidential candidates appear on the November ballot.

The Maine party has had cycles of activity and lulls since its founding in 1975.