Political news

Gov. Paul LePage pointed the finger at the Maine Legislature and secretary of state Thursday for Maine’s continued noncompliance with the federal REAL ID law. LePage says it’s preventing veterans in southern Maine from accessing certain VA services.

But the governor plans to veto a bill that would ensure veterans access to health care, while another bill that brings Maine into full compliance with REAL ID could land on his desk as early as next week.

The Maine house defeated legislation that would have Maine join the effort to abolish the electoral college.

Opponents including Farmington republican Rep. Lance Harvell argued Maine would not have presidential candidates like Donald Trump campaigning in the state in the closing days of the election if the electoral college was abolished.

“And one might ask themselves this question, what would bring a Manhattan socialite narcissist to Lisbon, Maine?” asks Harvell. “It wasn’t the national Popular Vote Act, I can tell you that.”

It's Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our roundtable on Maine politics. This week: Mike Cianchette, an attorney who served as former chief counsel to Gov. Paul LePage; Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in the Legislature as a Democrat; and Dick Woodbury, an economist and a former independent state lawmaker.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage has nominated a longtime prosecutor to serve on the Maine District Court bench.
The Republican governor on Wednesday announced he's nominating Geoffrey Rushlau.
The nomination must be vetted by the state Legislature's Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the full Senate.
Rushlau, of Dresden, is serving his sixth consecutive term as district attorney for the region, which includes Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties. He was appointed in June 1993 and his current term expires at the end of next year.

Senate GOP Needs Pence to Break Tie on Family Planning Funds

Mar 30, 2017

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans needed Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie on legislation to reverse an Obama-era rule protecting funds for Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers.
The GOP on Thursday was forced to keep a procedural vote open for just over an hour after two Republicans senators, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins, voted against moving ahead on the measure. During that time, the GOP got Pence to the Senate to break a 50-50 tie and cast the deciding vote.

AUGUSTA, Maine -  The Maine Ethics Commission is looking into the finances of a controversial casino campaign backed by an offshore investment firm.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Republican leader of the Maine House has withdrawn a bill to require testing of private wells that provide drinking water.
Minority Leader Ken Fredette's bill would have required testing of private wells for pollutants at least once every five years.
Half of Maine's population gets it drinking water from private wells, and the state says it assumes very few of them are routinely tested.

The backers of a controversial ballot campaign to build a casino in York County had little to say during at a public hearing being held at the State House Wednesday. However, the hearing did reveal that an offshore investment company with a checkered history is backing the proposal. 

The leading Democrat and Republican on the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee had hoped a public hearing on the York County casino referendum will help answer several questions about the campaign and a gambling developer who has left a trail of litigation in his past.

Maine’s congressional delegation has split over a proposal that halts internet privacy regulations set to go into effect later this year.

The bill on its way to President Donald Trump would allow internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to monitor their customers’ online behavior, such as browsing history, financial information and location information. The providers could mine the information and sell the data or use it for highly targeted online ads — an industry worth an estimated $83 billion.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he slashes tips for restaurant servers and tells them to call their legislators in an effort to persuade lawmakers to restore the tip credit.
The Sun Journal reports that the Republican governor made the comments Tuesday to a radio host for Z105.5's Breakfast Club.
LePage says he cuts the tip in half and writes down the appropriate lawmaker's name. He says lawmakers must feel public pressure to take action.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Republican senator is exploring a possible 2018 run against incumbent independent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

Sen. Eric Brakey admit he is an underdog against King, who has served since 2013 and intends to run for re-election. Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in May that he also would run against King, if he's not given a position in Republican President Donald Trump's administration.

Brakey announced Wednesday that he formed a federal exploratory committee, which will raise funds for traveling and assess what it will take to run a viable campaign.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Republican leader of the Maine House wants to require testing of private wells that provide drinking water.

Half of Maine's population gets its drinking water from private wells, and the state says it assumes very few of them are routinely tested.

In contrast, public water supplies are tested on a monthly or annual basis, depending on how many customers they serve.

Minority Leader Ken Fredette is sponsoring a bill that would require testing of private wells for pollutants at least once every five years.

It’s a long time until the November 2018 election, but two-term Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn has formed an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent independent Sen. Angus King.

Brakey says in order to raise money to travel around the state and to test the political waters, a prospective candidate must file an exploratory committee with federal election officials.

AUGUSTA, Maine -  The state’s Economic Forecasting Commission has concluded that 2016 was a strong year for Maine’s economy, but members aren't sure whether that will continue in 2017.

The work of the Economic Forecasting Commission provides the basis for the separate Revenue Forecasting Committee to project state tax receipts next month.  

PORTLAND, Maine - The leaders of eight regional councils that manage fisheries are reaching out to President Donald Trump to express concern over the creation of marine monuments, such as one in the ocean off of New England.
President Barack Obama created the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument last year. It's made up of nearly 5,000 square miles of habitat, and is very unpopular with many commercial fishermen.