Political news

Leaders of Maine’s two largest Indian tribes are criticizing Question 1, the ballot measure that would create a casino in York County as a bad deal for Mainers and for the tribes.

In a written statement, the chiefs of the Passamaquoddy’s two reservations and the Penobscot Nation say if voters authorize Question 1, it “would represent a manipulation of our state’s policymaking process, harm the tribes and prevent rural economic development in Maine.”

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage was on Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify against a House bill designed to support working waterfronts. HR 1176 is sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District, but LePage takes issue with the role the federal government would play.

Next week, Maine voters will be asked to weigh in another $105 million in borrowing to pay for needed transportation infrastructure.  This week, a lobbying group called TRIP released its latest assessment of one segment of that transportation infrastructure:  bridges.

The TRIP assessment: 14 percent of Maine bridges remain structurally deficient.  The group says that's the ninth highest percentage in the nation.

But state transportation official Andrew Bickmore says the 14 percent figure may not be as bad as it sounds

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public

In early December of 2015, casino developer Shawn Scott and his sister Lisa Scott were ready to launch the ballot initiative that will appear as Question 1 on ballot on Tuesday. But first, they needed a name for the campaign committee.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage and other state political figures have been targets of Russian-backed disinformation campaigns. That’s according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who revealed the findings at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington.

Collins says Russian Facebook pages were used in an effort to spread discord during the 2016 elections, and continues today. She quoted from posts on a known Russian Facebook page that was critical of LePage.

We're now less than a week away from Election Day.  There are four items on Maine's statewide ballot.  Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talks about three of them with University of Maine at Farmington Political Science Professor Jim Melcher.

GRATZ: Statewide, folks are going to face four questions: The first one is another casino vote. Now, the opposition this time is less focused on gambling per se than on who would get to develop this casino.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to head to Washington, D.C., again Thursday, this time to testify on a bill sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District that’s designed to strengthen working waterfronts.

It’s not clear what LePage has to say about the proposal, which is co-sponsored by Virginia Republican Rob Wittman. However, the governor appears on a witness list published by the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

This story was originally published at 3:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

One of the questions on next Tuesday’s statewide ballot asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment to change the debt repayment schedule in the retirement system for state workers and public-school teachers.

It hasn’t garnered much attention, even though payments to the system totaled $320 million last year — more than the total budget for the courts and the Legislature combined. Supporters of the proposed change say it will bring more stability to the system.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

The Maine Ethics Commission has delayed by a few days a decision on whether to penalize the campaign behind a casino proposed for York County.  The commission is investigating whether the campaign hid the source of over $4 million in funding for more than a year.

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law legislation addressing federal objections to Maine’s food sovereignty law passed earlier this year.

Without the changes to address food safety, federal officials would have taken over the state’s food inspections of meat and poultry, and several slaughterhouses would have been put out of business.

The original bill allowed cities and towns to regulate the production, processing and direct sales of food to consumers, which have been regulated by the state and federal governments.

Maine's governor and the Legislature - actually legislatures - have battled for years over expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Next week Maine voters can get into the act. Referendum Question 2 would approve the Medicaid expansion. Maine Public’s State House Bureau Chief Steve Mistler has written a story for Maine Public.org about the history of Medicaid expansion and talks about it with Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

The Maine Ethics Commission has unanimously rejected a request to postpone a hearing about its investigation into the Question 1 casino campaign's funding sources.


The commission is expected to review and potentially rule on some of the findings from its probe Tuesday. But on Sunday night, the commission received a request from several of the attorneys representing the various entities funding the casino initiative to delay the meeting.


AUGUSTA, Maine  — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says his longtime deputy chief of staff is stepping down.
Kathleen Newman also served as LePage's legislative director. The Republican governor said on Monday that Newman has decided to leave her position.

Patty Wight / Maine Public/file

When Maine Democrats passed their first Medicaid expansion bill four years ago, they wanted to make sure reporters and television cameras were there to see it. Republican Gov. Paul LePage wanted a similar audience - to witness the bill’s inevitable failure.  

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Assistant Senate GOP Leader Andre Cushing of Newport has resigned from his leadership post, saying he wants to devote more time to his family.

Republican sources say there’s a need to have someone in the role that will help the GOP keep control of the Senate, and that Cushing can’t commit the time needed to both serve as a senator and direct the campaign efforts.

Cushing has filed to run for re-election to the Senate. Republican senators could elect a new assistant leader next month when they return to the State House to handle vetoes from the special session.