Political news

The Maine House has voted in favor of a change in the state’s blue laws, which would allow local communities to decide whether to allow stores of up to 10,000 square feet to be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Supporters of the proposal have argued that local cities and towns can best decide whether to allow stores to be open on major holidays.

Rep. James Gillway, a Searsport Republican who sponsored the measure, says it’s an issue of local control.

PORTLAND, Maine - A solar energy company, a coalition of major industrial energy users and an environmental advocacy group are asking Maine's highest court to throw out recent changes utility regulators made to the state's solar power incentives.

The Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation is the lead challenger to the Maine Public Utilities Commission's decision to reduce the value of credits residential solar power generators get when they put excess electricity on the power grid. 

AUGUSTA, Maine - A key committee of the Maine Legislature says it's time for the state to institute a lottery system to bring new people into the baby eel fishery.
The Committee on Marine Resource voted Tuesday in favor of creation of the lottery system, which will provide permits to fish for baby eels, also called elvers.
The fishery is closed to new people. Fishermen have made the case that many industry members are older, so there needs to be a system in place to get new faces into the business.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A day after suing Maine's Democratic attorney general alleging abuse of power, GOP Gov. Paul LePage says her office is a place to put "aging ideologues,'' while she called his lawsuit a waste of state resources.
Both commented Tuesday during a radio call-in show.
LePage alleges Attorney General Janet Mills has refused to represent his administration's positions or pay for outside counsel. He said her ideology clouds her ability to be a good lawyer.

Joel Page / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - When Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage nominated a successor to Public Advocate Tim Schneider, perhaps no one was more surprised at his choice than the man he picked, Barry Hobbins. Hobbins, a longtime Democratic state legislator, will go before a legislative confirmation hearing May 9.  Hobbins talks with Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

LePage, St. Clair Set for Showdown in Congress on Maine's New National Monument

May 2, 2017
Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

Gov. Paul LePage and leading monument proponent Lucas St. Clair will testify before Congress on Tuesday about whether Maine’s national monument represents a form of presidential abuse of power.

AUGUSTA, Maine - As Maine lawmakers enter what's expected to be an intense period of budget negotiations, they got mixed news from the state's Revenue Forecasting Committee.   

April income tax revenues were virtually flat, according to the commission, prompting the panel to dampen revenue expectations through June by $17 million.  That also led the panel to project an increase in revenues of less than $6 million a year for the next two years.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - Some 200 people turned out in Portland last night for a rally to support workers’ rights and the rights of immigrants.

Speakers included the wife of a Naples man, Otto Morales-Caballeros, who was detained by federal immigration agents just over two weeks ago, when he was on his way to work at a lobster packing company.

“I fell in love with a sweet, kind, humble and grateful man: The light of my life," said Sandra Scribner Merlim.  "He just happened to be undocumented.”

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced late Monday afternoon that he has taken the unusual step of filing a lawsuit against Maine Attorney General Janet Mills over what he claims is her abuse of power.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage's administration is asking President Donald Trump to allow Maine to require certain adults to work to receive Medicaid.
The state wants to count an individual's personal assets when determining MaineCare eligibility and wants to collect monthly premiums for adults who have the ability to earn income.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew says the administration will submit the request following public hearings, scheduled for May 17 in Portland and May 18 in Augusta.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Across the country, environmental activists held rallies and marches Saturday urging action on climate change. In Maine, a rally was held outside the State House, with a march circling Capitol Park and passing the Blaine House, the governor’s official residence.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has joined Democratic colleagues from other states in filing legal challenges aimed at stopping the Trump administration from weakening environmental regulations. The suits reflect a growing trend of partisan alliances among states’ attorneys general.

Democratic attorneys general have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration on a variety of environmental fronts. In one case, they seek to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which requires power plants to curb carbon emissions.

Joel Page / Associated Press/file

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Miami woman who has been leading a controversial ballot campaign to build a casino in York County says the campaign did not intentionally mislead the Maine Ethics Commission when it failed to report its true funding sources.

Lisa Scott released a press statement Friday saying the Horseracing Jobs Fairness Campaign did not fully understand Maine's disclosure law.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine lawmakers are considering whether to repeal the current 24-month limit on MaineCare treatment of opioid addiction with Suboxone. 

Rep. Patty Hymanson is a retired doctor.  The York Democrat said the limit on coverage is unwarranted, and urged her colleagues to repeal it.

“Relapse brings nothing but pain with the potential for criminal behavior, overdose and death," Hymanson said. "Keeping the two-year cap on Suboxone and evidence-based treatment is arbitrary and unsound.”

Ed Morin / Maine Public/file

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District is sharply critical of the Republicans’ new health care proposal, which she says is worse than the one they abandoned a few weeks ago.

“I believe all Americans deserve protections for the coverage of essential health services and preexisting conditions, not just members of Congress,” she says.