Political news

Democratic lawmakers clashed with DHHS commissioner Mary Mayhew Thursday over the agency’s proposal to dramatically cut state funds for chronic disease and tobacco cessation programs. The proposal is part of Gov. Paul LePage’s budget, and reduces funding to the Fund for Healthy Maine by 70 percent.

During the public hearing, Democratic Rep. Patricia Hymanson of York told Mayhew that proposal gutted the public health program.

“What you’re doing is taking away a public fund in public health and driving it into a different place. Just to be clear,” she says.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says she's open to requesting President Donald Trump's tax returns if the documents are necessary to complete an ongoing probe into Russia's alleged interference in the November election. 

Collins was asked during the Maine Public call in program Maine Calling if she would support subpoenaing the president's tax returns. Collins at first said she wasn't sure such a request would be necessary, but added, "If it's necessary to get the answers then I suspect we would."

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

More than any other member of Maine’s Congressional Delegation, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has found herself under intense scrutiny in her home state.

Joining Maine Public’s Radio’s call-in program Maine Calling Wednesday, Collins attracted protesters outside the Bangor studios and elsewhere. She used the platform to try to allay concerns from some Mainers about the new president, but she also had to answer to her some of her increasingly vocal critics.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

Gov. Paul LePage is asking President Donald Trump to reverse the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument established by an executive order from President Barack Obama last year.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Town officials, faith leaders and anti-poverty advocates continued to protest Gov. Paul LePage's plan to cut welfare services during public hearings held Wednesday.

The Legislature's budget committee held hearings on sections of the budget that include axing state funds for General Assistance and food assistance for legal non-citizens.

All told, the proposals represent a $140 million cut to the Department of Health and Human Services. The savings would help fund the governor's plan to for a steep reduction in the state income tax.

Patty Wight / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A citizen initiative to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has qualified for the November 2017 ballot. 

The Secretary of State's office certified more than 66,000 signatures that were collected from October to January.

Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to slash $140 million from the Department of Health and Human Services drew its first wave of opposition during public hearings held Tuesday. Opponents lined up to argue against steep cuts to the state’s MaineCare program, as well as changes taxes and reimbursement to Maine’s hospitals.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins met Tuesday with a group that's been actively pressuring Maine's congressional delegation to oppose President Donald Trump's policies.  The group, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, is helping organize protests scheduled for Wednesday.

The group has been pressuring Collins on everything from the fate of the Affordable Care Act to votes on Trump's cabinet picks. It has also asked the Republican to hold a town hall meeting.

AUGUSTA, Maine - More than 200 demonstrators have gathered outside the State House in Augusta for a "Not My Presidents Day'' rally to oppose Republican President Donald Trump and his administration.
The Kennebec Journal reports that protesters on Monday chanted slogans including "We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter,'' and held up signs such as "Impeach Trump'' and "Not Our President.''

Shannon Dooling / WBUR

Muslims in America are the subject of heated political debate. But they account for a very small number of elected politicians in New England.

One nonprofit, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is encouraging American-Muslims across the U.S. to run for political office. The group, called Jetpac, will train potential candidates regardless of party affiliation with the goal of increasing civic engagement within Muslim communities.

AUGUSTA, Maine - When President Donald Trump unveils his infrastructure plan - expected to happen within the next few weeks - Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King says he hopes it will include an expansion of broadband.

King says Maine has the backbone for broadband in place but many rural areas still lag behind.

“It’s like a superhighway, it’s like an interstate without exits," King says. "It’s very hard to get
the broadband from the superhighway out into the communities, particularly rural communities.”

Patty Wight / Maine Public/file

Progressive lawmakers and caregiving advocates launched a campaign Monday to establish a Universal Family Care System in Maine. If approved by the Legislature, the system would provide childcare and home care services for all children, seniors and individuals with disabilities, regardless of income.

The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental activists are upset that the vote was allowed to happen before next week’s public release of emails between Pruitt and energy company executives.

The Senate voted 52-46 to confirm Pruitt after failed attempts to delay action on the vote. Lisa Pohlman, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, says those senators that forced a vote may well live to regret their decision.

Jan David Hanrath / Flickr/Creative Commons

Mainers concerned, dismayed or angered by the election of President Donald Trump have made their voices heard by protesting in the street and clogging the phone lines of their representatives in Congress. But there’s a much quieter movement playing out in libraries across the state.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit gubernatorial candidates from participating in the state’s public campaign financing program. The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the proposal Friday.

The proposal is supported by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group. Mike Quatrano told lawmakers that public funding through the Maine Clean Election Act has done little to curb spending by outside groups that can spend unlimited amounts to influence an election.