News

New Charity Receiving Poland Spring Aid Lacks Federal Nonprofit Status

May 19, 2018
Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News

Despite not having yet acquired nonprofit status, a still-forming charity has a $150,000 commitment from Poland Spring as the retail water seller extends its influence in northern Penobscot County. 

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Maine Democrats are in Lewiston this weekend for a state convention that the party hopes will energize activists for the upcoming elections. 

EMHS Is Ending Partnerships With Portland And Bangor Over Opioid Lawsuits

May 18, 2018
Courtesy EMHS / Bangor Daily News

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems says it is ending partnerships with Bangor and Portland after the two cities moved to file lawsuits accusing it and national pharmaceutical manufacturers of playing a key role in the opioid crisis.

EMHS said in a Thursday news release it decided to take the action because of concern that some physicians, formerly employed by EMHS member organizations, “could be named in the suit as a legal tactic to keep the cases in Maine state courts.”

On technical grounds, a federal judge in Connecticut has dismissed a class action lawsuit against Nestle Waters North America, the parent company of Poland Spring.

The suit alleges that the company has been perpetuating a colossal fraud against American consumers by claiming on its label that bottles contain 100 percent natural spring water. In their suit plaintiffs say Poland Spring products contain ordinary ground water collected from wells.

Rather than deal with these allegations, the judge agrees with Nestle that plaintiffs' claims are all preempted by federal law.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a finding that Russia did try to influence the 2016 elections in support of Donald Trump. Both Maine senators, who serve on that committee, expect the threat of interference to continue in future elections.

Both Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King say that they think the Russians will again attempt to influence elections this year.

Collins says she expects to see more false stories and websites aimed at increasing political tensions.

Maine State Police

Maine State Police say they have nabbed a long-haul trucker who has been evading tolls for up to six years, avoiding more than $1,300 in tolls in Maine alone.

Troopers said Friday that 61-year-old Danny Olson of Turner avoided paying tolls by attaching license plates belonging to a deceased motorist and another man who was not involved in the scheme.

Police say Olson was arrested Thursday after driving from New Hampshire. Charges include theft of services, illegal license plates and logbook violations.

Unemployment in Maine remained at a 60 year low in April at 2.7 percent, the same rate as March.

State Labor Department official Glenn Mills said those are the two lowest monthly unemployment numbers since 1957.

“It's a very tight labor market and conditions are very good,” Mills commented.

The state’s 2.7 percent rate was well below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in April and below Maine’s jobless rate of 3.3 percent in April, 2017.

Maine's governor says he was hit by a car while bicycling in November in Florida and will need surgery.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage revealed the news about the accident Friday at Maine International Trade Day. He said he and his wife, Ann, were riding bicycles near their second home in Ormond Beach and a car knocked him off his bike. She wasn't hurt.

LePage said he kept the accident quiet. He brushed off questions afterward, including saying it was "none of your business."

Developers Behind Massive Portland Project Accused Of ‘Shell Game,’ Fraud

May 18, 2018
Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News

A construction company is suing the developers behind an ambitious housing project, once expected to transform a troubled Portland neighborhood, for fraud.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage said some Maine taxpayers may have to amend their 2017 tax returns if state lawmakers fail to return to make changes to ensure the state's income tax code conforms with the federal tax overhaul.

LePage on Thursday blamed Democrats for not supporting a tax conformity bill that was left in limbo when the Legislature adjourned last month.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

Both of Maine's U.S. senators have joined a majority of their colleagues by voting to block a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to repeal net neutrality rules. However, Democratic Representative Chellie Pingree says the measure may never get a vote in the House.

“The Republicans would much rather not take a vote on this and I think that is a big mistake. I actually think it will be an election year issue,” Pingree says.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Investigators with the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Department are following up on leads as they try to identify the individuals who vandalized 22 RSU 16 School District buses and a pick-up truck parked at the administrative office in Poland.

The RSU 16 district includes the towns of Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls. Chief Deputy William Gagne says the office has received a few calls. Gagne says, in addition, that a couple who lives in RSU 16 has offered a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved with the criminal mischief.

It's Thursday and time again for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics.

This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney and former Democratic state lawmaker, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertizing and Marketing, who served in Augusta as a Republican, and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the legislature as an independent spoke with Keith Shortall.

University of Maine

Maine’s public universities are anticipating a record number of nursing applicants for the 2018-2019 school year, even as the state continues to struggle with nursing shortages. One source of relief could be a proposed $75 million bond that would include funding to expand nursing education.

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House are expected to vote Thursday or Friday on the merits of this year's farm bill. The bill makes numerous changes to ongoing programs, including strengthening work requirements for people who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Republican Second District Representative Bruce Poliquin says the bill will also offer some exemptions for Maine families who currently receive those SNAP benefits.

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