Political news

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature has sent the governor a bill requested by the mayors of Auburn and Lewiston to make it harder for municipalities to merge.
A key part of the proposal requires votes in each community considering a merger to gauge interest before starting work to implement the idea. Later, there would be a second vote.
The measure was adopted Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn tells the Sun Journal that the idea is to "avoid unnecessary heartache and expense on merger proposals that lack community support.''

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump is hosting the leaders of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to mark 100 years of their independence and taking questions from reporters. Watch their news conference at the White House.

A legislative committee has overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal to nearly double the annual salary of Maine's next governor.

The State and Local Government Committee voted 11-1 in favor of increasing the salary, which is now the lowest of any state in the nation. The Portland Press Herald reports the salary of the next governor would be increased from $70,000 to $150,000 if the legislation is approved by the Legislature.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine health care providers, lawmakers and advocates are planning to rally to demand that Maine take action on voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
The state faces a Tuesday deadline to submit a routine application to ensure roughly $500 million in annual federal funding for expansion.
The tens of thousands of low-income individuals who could benefit from such expansion are still waiting for Gov. Paul LePage's administration and lawmakers to take action.


Gov. Paul LePage made waves last week when he called a federal judge an "imbecile." The judge cited LePage's decision to stay at a Trump hotel as cause to pursue two lawsuits against President Trump for violating the Constitution's Emolument's Clause, which bars mixing of business interests and government work.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press/file

BOSTON - A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit accusing Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage of abuse of power and blackmail.
The full 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston will meet on Tuesday to examine the case brought by former Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.
Eves says the governor overstepped his authority when he threatened to withhold state funding to force a charter school operator to rescind a job offer to Eves.

PORTLAND, Maine - As many as 10,000 Maine residents are struggling to afford health care coverage due to rising premiums and deductibles.
The Portland Press Herald reports that former President Obama's Affordable Care Act lacks cost control for enrollees who earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty limit.
Those enrollees have seen premiums increase as much as 110 percent from $376 per month in 2014 to $790 per month this year.

Maine Public staff/file

Another turn in the ongoing legal and political fight over ranked-choice voting Maine — Republicans in the Maine Senate on Monday passed a measure to block implementation of the system, which could be in place for the June primaries.

Mark Humphrey / Associated Press File

The Trump administration is expected to announce next week that it will relax greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that were last approved more than five years ago.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Republican governor is claiming without providing evidence that President Donald Trump's administration will only let the state expand Medicaid if Maine lawmakers put the money up.
The tens of thousands of low-income individuals who could benefit from voter-approved Medicaid expansion are waiting for Gov. Paul LePage's administration and lawmakers to take action.

A Kennebec County Superior Court judge says she’ll soon rule on a request to require Maine election officials to use ranked-choice voting in the June primaries.

Judge Michaela Murphy said Friday that she’ll rule in the next few days.

Supporters of ranked-choice voting filed an injunction Thursday to force Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to implement the system after Maine’s top election official warned that a conflict in statutes could scuttle plans to use the system for the June 12 primary, barring a legislative fix.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

It’s still unclear whether Maine voters will use a landmark ranked choice voting system in June that will purportedly make elections less acrimonious and less partisan. But the fate of the voting system could largely be determined by voters who identify as partisans, and less so by the state’s biggest voting bloc: independents.

Darron Cummings / Associated Press/file

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says that he plans to use ranked-choice voting in the June primary elections after all, despite a conflict in election laws triggered by a people's veto petition.  Supporters say they believe the courts will clear up the matter quickly.

DHHS Misses Legal Deadline For Restoring Public Health Nurses

Mar 30, 2018
Darren Fishell / Bangor Daily News/file

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says it’s rebuilding the ranks of public health nurses, whose numbers fell by more than two-thirds during the first seven years of Gov. Paul LePage’s administration. But the department is hiring more slowly than required by a 2017 law ordering the state public health nursing program’s restoration.

Marijuana-Friendly States Want Meeting With Sessions

Mar 30, 2018

LOS ANGELES - California, Oregon and other marijuana-friendly states are seeking a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hopes of resolving the conflict between federal and state laws that has left the nation's cannabis industry in legal limbo.
Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, even as 29 states have legalized pot in some form.
State treasurers from California, Oregon, Illinois and Pennsylvania told Sessions in a letter Thursday they need greater clarity on how federal law enforcement will respond to the growing legalization trend.