Political news

Maine Tribes Seek Court Opinion In Effort To Open Casinos Without State Approval

Feb 20, 2018
Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News/file

The Maine House of Representatives is scheduled Tuesday to consider asking the Maine Supreme Judicial Court whether Maine’s Native American tribes can operate casinos without state approval.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public File

Maine’s recreational marijuana law allows adults to grow up to six flowering plants for personal and recreational use — but the legislative committee that’s overhauling the law is trying to cut that allotment by half.

Supporters of the proposal under consideration say it would give municipalities more flexibility to craft their own home-grow rules. They also say that the larger limit of six plants creates extra supply, which could potentially find its way onto the black market, especially if out-of-state traffickers pay Maine landowners to cultivate on their property.

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that requires more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives. 

Rep. Louis Luchini, a Democrat from Ellsworth, is sponsoring the legislation. It requires more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

“What is really important to me is to, I think, understand all of the financing issues," Luchini says. "That’s something we really saw last year during the casino campaign where lots of money was flowing in, we didn’t know where it was coming from. “

Maine Public/file

The Maine Republican Party's executive director has admitted that he ran an anonymous website that attacked liberal politicians and candidates. 

The admission by Jason Savage came less than a week before the Maine Ethics Commission will review a complaint by the Maine Democratic Party.

Democrats say the GOP and Savage may have broken campaign finance laws by not disclosing that the pieces were intended to hobble liberal candidate Ben Chin during last year's Lewiston mayoral race.

But the GOP says it neither authorized nor paid for the Maine Examiner website.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage's administration is opposing legislation to remove veterinarians from Maine's prescription monitoring program.
Republican Sen. Jim Hamper's bill could receive a committee vote Tuesday.
The bill would no longer require veterinarians to look up the prescription history of the person who brings in a pet before prescribing an opioid or a benzodiazepine for the animal.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A plan to create a fishing license lottery to get new people into the scallop fishery has passed a key hurdle in the Maine Legislature.
The Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources unanimously approved the proposal on Feb. 14. It now moves to the full Legislature, which is likely to vote on it in the next couple of weeks.

Trump Once Again Proposes To Eliminate Energy Assistance Program

Feb 19, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine - The Trump administration is once again calling for the complete elimination of low-income heating assistance. And once again, program supporters are vowing to fight it.
The administration is using the same arguments from a year ago when it tried to abolish the program, saying it's rife with fraud and that no one would be left freezing if the program goes away.
Those claims were widely discredited a year ago.
The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association called President Donald Trump's arguments "very misleading and wrong.''

Maine lawmakers may make it tougher for citizens to get questions on ballots as Gov. Paul LePage has renewed his call to reform a system he's called too representative of liberal-leaning Mainers.

In his final State of the State address Tuesday, the Republican chastised out-of-state, special interests for pushing Maine ballot campaigns, and urged that lawmakers require the campaigns to get equal support across the state.

Eight candidates are asking a judge to make sure the state's ranked-choice voting system is in place in time for the June primary elections.

The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has submitted petitions for a people's veto referendum aimed nullifying a legislative delay. If there are enough signatures, then the legislative delay would be stayed, allowing the system to be implemented in June.

But committee chairman Dick Woodbury said Friday that there's still uncertainty, and he hopes a Superior Court judge will "establish some clarity."

The Maine Republican Party's executive director says he alone was responsible for running an anonymous website that published articles Democrats say slandered their unsuccessful local candidate.

The state ethics commission's staff on Friday said GOP Executive Director Jason Savage denied using his party's resources to fund the Maine Examiner website.

The staff said it will be up to commissioners to decide this Thursday whether to open a formal investigation into whether the GOP violated campaign finance law.

Maine Public

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that would require more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives.

Ellsworth democratic representative Louis Luchini is sponsoring the legislation, which would require more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine sharply criticized military efforts to help law enforcement interdict drugs coming into the United States.

King says there has been little, if any progress, by the military in keeping drugs out of the United States even as the opioid crisis continues to grow and claim more lives.

“It is inexcusable to be sitting here three or four years later and still only being able to interdict 25 percent of the drug shipments that we know about,” he says.

Maine Senator Susan Collins says the common-sense coalition of senators that she organized has made progress drafting a measure that will be a compromise on immigration reform.

Senator Collins says a bipartisan group of 25 senators has gone through five drafts of legislation that will provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

“The most important provisions of that bill are the path to citizenship for the dreamers, who are brought to this country through no decision of their own by their parents,” says Collins.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage used his final State of the State speech Tuesday to, at times, wistfully look back at his two terms and, at others, to revive long-simmering tensions with his long list of political foes, including a lengthy broadside against land trusts.