Political news

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday directing a review of national monuments created under the Antiquities Act.

PORTLAND, Maine - A bill authored by Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King designed to help combat the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses such as the Zika virus has passed a committee test.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved King's bill on Wednesday. King, an independent, says his bill would give states and communities more tools to control mosquitoes.

LePage Wants to Out Those Who Film Alleged Animal Cruelty

Apr 26, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Republican governor wants to make public the names of those who are hired to film videos of alleged animal cruelty.
In 2014, Gov. Paul LePage received a $1,000 contribution from Contract Farming of Maine LLC, which is associated with a man who owns New England's largest egg-producing farm in Turner. Last summer, the Humane Society of the United States released undercover footage of the facility showing hens in cages so small they couldn't spread their wings, but the state later concluded there was no reason to pursue animal cruelty charges.

Gov. Paul LePage is under fire for his characterization of how a new 3 percent surcharge to fund education will affect wealthy Mainers.

LePage was challenged on his facts by an audience member during his town hall meeting Monday in Fort Kent, his latest stop in a campaign that he hopes will convince state lawmakers to repeal the surcharge approved by voters in November.

Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook are facing off over the ongoing dispute involving construction of a new mental health facility.

At a news conference earlier this week, the governor was asked the status of the so-called step-down unit he had said would be built in Bangor on state-owned land adjacent to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. LePage said he was still waiting for the Legislature to get him the money to move forward on the project.

Maine’s two members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence defended the pace of a probe into Russian election interference and alleged collusion between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of acknowledged news reports in which some members of the committee complained about staffing and unbooked interviews with key witnesses. But he says the investigation is proceeding methodically for a reason.

PORTLAND, Maine - A key proponent of a national monument in Maine is challenging Republican Gov. Paul LePage to spend some time on the land before criticizing it.
The governor described the land as "cut over'' on Monday and said it'll take decades for the land to recover. He plans to testify against the monument created by former Democratic President Barack Obama at a House subcommittee hearing next week.

The Maine Legislature could force shadowy groups bankrolling Maine political campaigns to reveal their top donors.

Lawmakers are reviewing a bill from the Maine Ethics Commission that would require organizations contributing more than $100,000 to Maine-based political action committees, party committees and ballot campaigns to report their top five funders.

The proposal would have affected 13 organizations that donated a combined $14 million to Maine-based PACs in the last election.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Gov. Paul LePage says he will campaign throughout the state to push his plan to offset the burden created by a 3 percent surtax on wealthier Maine households.

“I’m going to be talking to Rotary clubs, Lions clubs, Kiwanis clubs, chambers, town halls,” he says.

The voter-approved surcharge on household incomes over $200,000 is aimed at boosting public school funding, but gives Maine the second-highest income tax rate for top earners.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage says he will testify before Congress next week to urge lawmakers to reverse the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

LePage says President Obama violated the Antiquities Act when he designated the monument in the face of state and local opposition.

“I think Congress could, should repeal the Antiquities Act," LePage says, "or at least write it so a president cannot violate (it)."

AUGUSTA, Maine - Citizens would monitor the success and progress of the state-run welfare-to-work program under a democratic lawmaker's bill.

Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Nathan Libby is sponsoring a bill that would create an independent citizens oversight committee.

The committee would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to collect data about topics like employment, income levels, child poverty and food insecurity.

The bill also would require the department to set benchmarks to measure the program's success.

The state, along with the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, would be banned from doing business with any bank or company that is involved in the Dakota Access pipeline under a bill being considered by the Legislature.

Dawn Neptune Adams, a member of the Penobscot Nation, argued the state should do what is right.

“I’m asking you to divest Maine’s money from any bank which would support the Dakota Access pipeline,” she says.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

There are more than 100 people in Maine on a waitlist to receive Meals on Wheels. The actual need is likely much greater, according to advocates, and the program is at the mercy of fluctuating funding sources.

On Friday, Maine lawmakers will consider a bill that would allocate half a million dollars to the program. Supporters say it would eliminate the waitlist for a program that provides more than just meals.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A proposal by the Maine Department of Transportation to generate more money for roads and bridges is receiving a mixed reaction by lawmakers and municipalities.

The bill imposes annual fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, while also diverting excise taxes on tractor trailers from cities and towns to the state highway fund.

The proposal would also compel municipalities to spend motor vehicle excise tax collections only on local transportation projects.

The Legislature’s Transportation Committee has voted 11-1 to support legislation banning handheld electronic devices, like cellphones, while driving.

Lawmakers have resisted an outright ban on handheld devices for years. But Rep. Wayne Parry, a Republican from Arundel who has voted against similar legislation six times, says he supports this proposal.

“We have got to do something to stop people from texting, and if this gives the tools to the state police, I think this year I am going to have to support it,” he says.