AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House has rejected legislation that would have Maine join the effort to abolish the electoral college, and instead elect the president by direct popular vote.

The bill was defeated 73 to 66. Opponents, such as Farmington Republican Rep. Lance Harvell, argued that Maine would not have candidates like Donald Trump campaigning in the state in the closing days of the election if the electoral college was abolished.

PORTLAND, Maine - Craft brewers in Maine are joining with the Icelandic shipping company Eimskip to sell more beer abroad.

They are retrofitting a refrigerated cargo container with 50 taps on its side to float a sampling of the state's beers from Portland to Reykjavik.

The "Maine Beer Box," as it's called, is the brainchild of David Carlson, co-owner of Belfast's Marshall Wharf Brewing.

"Is it a marketing stunt? Sure," he says. "Is it sexy? Sure. I mean at the end of the day it's beer, which is great."

BANGOR, Maine - New England Patriots fans in Maine will have the chance to celebrate the team's fifth Super Bowl championship this weekend.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy will be on display at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be accompanied by a cheerleader and mascot Pat Patriot.
Officials in Bangor and Brewer announced the event on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the center says fans can have one photograph taken with the trophy and should arrive early due to time limits. Guests must bring their own camera.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage has nominated a longtime prosecutor to serve on the Maine District Court bench.
The Republican governor on Wednesday announced he's nominating Geoffrey Rushlau.
The nomination must be vetted by the state Legislature's Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the full Senate.
Rushlau, of Dresden, is serving his sixth consecutive term as district attorney for the region, which includes Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties. He was appointed in June 1993 and his current term expires at the end of next year.

AUBURN, Maine - City records show that a former Auburn, Maine, pulp mill sold for $7 million below its assessed value to a Texas company that is considering using the site for growing medical marijuana.
The Sun Journal reports that BlueWaterTX1031, a Texas company established by an Auburn businessman last month, purchased the former Cascades Auburn Fiber mill for just $2 million in February.

Senate GOP Needs Pence to Break Tie on Family Planning Funds

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WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans needed Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie on legislation to reverse an Obama-era rule protecting funds for Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers.
The GOP on Thursday was forced to keep a procedural vote open for just over an hour after two Republicans senators, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins, voted against moving ahead on the measure. During that time, the GOP got Pence to the Senate to break a 50-50 tie and cast the deciding vote.

A major snowstorm is brewing just in time for April Fool's Day in parts of New England.
The National Weather Service says the coastal storm is going to bring heavy, wet snow to Maine and New Hampshire starting Friday and continuing through Saturday afternoon.
Meteorologist Tom Hawley says the "jackpot'' is going to be 12 to 18 inches of snow in higher terrain between Nashua and Keene in New Hampshire. He says interior sections of southernmost Maine can expect 6 to 10 inches while lesser amounts are forecast farther north.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Republican leader of the Maine House has withdrawn a bill to require testing of private wells that provide drinking water.
Minority Leader Ken Fredette's bill would have required testing of private wells for pollutants at least once every five years.
Half of Maine's population gets it drinking water from private wells, and the state says it assumes very few of them are routinely tested.

PORTLAND, Maine - Environmental groups that want to save a marine monument created by former President Barack Obama in the ocean off of New England are asking to intervene in a lawsuit.
They say the nearly 5,000-square-mile monument area has "extraordinary scientific and ecological importance,'' including its rare deep-sea corals and endangered whales.

DETROIT - Volkswagen is paying more than $157 million to 10 states to settle environmental lawsuits over the company's diesel emissions-cheating scandal.
The company says the money will go to Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. All 10 states follow California's clean air standards.
The settlement covers 3-Liter six-cylinder diesel engines and is separate from a $603 million agreement reached last year with 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that covered 2-liter engines.

The backers of a controversial ballot campaign to build a casino in York County had little to say during at a public hearing being held at the State House Wednesday. However, the hearing did reveal that an offshore investment company with a checkered history is backing the proposal. 

The leading Democrat and Republican on the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee had hoped a public hearing on the York County casino referendum will help answer several questions about the campaign and a gambling developer who has left a trail of litigation in his past.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's highest court has ruled that South Portland's liability insurer doesn't have to cover the city's rising legal fees in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
The Portland Press Herald reports the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decided Tuesday that the Maine Municipal Association Property & Casualty Pool has no duty to defend the city's Clear Skies ordinance.

Barbara Cariddi / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - Researchers at the University of Maine say hemlock trees will be at risk of accelerated decline as winters warm in the Northeast.

Bill Livingston is associate professor of forest resources at UMaine.  He says in northern New England,  cold winter weather has been able to keep the insect that causes hemlock decline in check.

"But because the model we had was something where we could vary the temperature, we warmed up winter temperatures by 2 degrees and found that, yes, that decline of hemlock then started creeping northward," Livingston says.

Maine’s congressional delegation has split over a proposal that halts internet privacy regulations set to go into effect later this year.

The bill on its way to President Donald Trump would allow internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to monitor their customers’ online behavior, such as browsing history, financial information and location information. The providers could mine the information and sell the data or use it for highly targeted online ads — an industry worth an estimated $83 billion.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Interstate fishing regulators are sending a plan to try to fix New England's shuttered shrimp fishery to the public for a series of June hearings.

The northern shrimp fishery has been shut down for more than three years because of a collapse in population. The regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has been considering new ways to save the fishery for the shrimp, which were a popular winter seafood item in New England.