Political news

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is hoping to force the authorization of $15 million in voter-approved bonds for senior housing with a bill that removes Gov. Paul LePage from the process.

The governor has refused to release the bonds, which nearly 70 percent of voters authorized two years ago.

Republican Sen. Roger Katz told the Legislature’s budget-writing committee that lawmakers need to act if the governor won’t.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Protesters in Lewiston and Portland Wednesday called on Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to reject Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the so-called “nuclear option.”

Standing outside Collins’ office in Lewiston, Renee Cote of Auburn says she hopes the senator will oppose that option, which would change Senate rules to allow Republicans to push Gorsuch’s nomination through with a simple majority vote.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is calling on top brass at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to address the high rate of sexual assault and harassment reports at the school.

Collins presided over a Senate hearing on the issue.

“Let me be clear:  Sexual assault is a heinous crime that must be eradicated in every corner of our society," Collins said.

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has removed chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, reversing a controversial early decision to give Bannon access to the high-level meetings.
A new memorandum about the composition of the NSC was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The memo no longer lists the chief strategist as a member of the Principal's Committee, a group of high-ranking officials that convene to discuss pressing national security priorities.

Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

Legislative leaders in both parties are vowing to enact a constitutional amendment designed to give victims of violent crimes the same legal standing as those accused of committing them.

Maine DHHS Pays Consultant $315K to Rethink Child Care, But Doesn't Make Changes

Apr 5, 2017
Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services has paid $315,000 over the past few years to an outside consulting firm to help the state overhaul and simplify the way it handles state-funded child care assistance for lower-income, working parents.

But the state agency isn’t acting on the consultant’s advice on simplifying how the assistance works for parents, child care providers and the multiple state offices that coordinate it all.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

The man once dubbed “the high priest of Republican tax cutting” is speaking in Maine tonight.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group he created in 1985 to oppose all tax increases and advocate for a simpler, flatter structure.

More recently Norquist has been talking about how the conservative House Freedom Caucus could still play a role in repealing the Affordable Care Act, and also in reducing taxes.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Editor's note: Since being interviewed for this story, the Maine Medical Association has updated its position as neither for nor against the Death with Dignity bills.

This week Maine lawmakers will consider two similar bills that pose the same question: Should terminally ill patients have the right to end their lives?

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says he will vote against the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Nearly 100 lawyers in Maine are urging the state's two U.S. senators to oppose President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

The group says in a letter that the Senate should reject Gorsuch's confirmation, citing an ongoing federal investigation into the Republican Trump's presidential campaign and Gorsuch's rulings that favor business interests.

The letter, organized by the group Mainers for Accountable Leadership, comes less than two weeks after nearly 50 Maine attorneys asked Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to support the nomination.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's full Legislature will consider making it a misdemeanor crime for lobbyists to lie or conceal a "material fact'' while testifying to lawmakers.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the State and Local Government Committee voted in favor of a revised version of the bill on Monday. The bill no longer includes members of the public, state workers and lawmakers.
Republican state Rep. Heather Sirocki, of Scarborough, sponsored the bill.

AUGUSTA, Maine — GOP Gov. Paul LePage’s administration says welfare recipients aren’t showing up for drug tests and that reform is needed.

The state requires drug tests for welfare recipients with prior drug convictions who score high on a substance-use disorder screening tool.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press that since 2015 eleven Mainers have lost benefits after not completing required drug tests. Maine successfully drug-tested 12 welfare recipients, while four other individuals lost benefits after refusing screening.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers are starting to consider bills that would roll back the minimum wage law approved by voters in November.

Voters approved an increase in Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $12 an hour by 2020. Then, the wage would increase according to inflation. Tipped employees’ wages would reach the minimum wage by 2024.

On Wednesday, 10 bills are scheduled for a public hearing.

Several bills would bring back the ability for employers to pay tipped employees below the minimum wage.

U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine is leading an effort to reform a temporary work visa program many Maine inns and restaurants depend on for seasonal help.

Congress has curtailed the number of the so-called H2-B visas to be issued this year compared to last, and businesses in states with a relatively late tourist season, such as Maine, are scrambling to find staffing alternatives.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, left, and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., right, listen as Clint Watts, center, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on National Security, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

During the first of what is expected to be many public hearings over the next several months, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee heard from experts on past Russian efforts to influence elections around the world.

Those efforts have extra significance now, as Congress attempts to get to the bottom of Russian meddling during the last election without drifting into a partisan squabble.