Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

The court master who oversees the rights of mental health patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center says there have been improvements, but there's still some way to go before the Augusta psychiatric hospital is ready to operate without the intense scrutiny of a consent decree.

Dan Wathen has served as court master for Riverview, since 1990, when he was appointed as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit by former psychiatric patients.

A Maine insurance co-op says it's appealing a federal court decision to dismiss the co-op's lawsuit against the U.S. government.

In the lawsuit filed a year ago, Community Health Options argued that it's owed $23 million in back payments under the Affordable Care Act's risk corridor program.  That program was a temporary one designed to help stabilize the insurance market for higher-than-expected costs. 

But the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled this week that CHO could not claim the money because Congress barred the use of public funds for the program. 

Fair Rent Portland, a Portland rent reform group, says it has enough signatures to put a rent control ordinance on the Portland City ballot this fall.

The proposed ordinance would cap the amount that certain landlords could increase their rent each year, and includes other renter protections.

The group plans to deliver the signatures to the City Clerk on Monday.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's liquor agency is downsizing its plan to raise retail prices on "value'' liquor products.

The Sun Journal reports that the executive director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations said Thursday the increase will be capped to prevent prices on individual items from rising more than $1.

Regulators announced the price hike on nearly 1,000 products after Gov. Paul LePage failed to ban tiny bottles known as "nips.''

PORTLAND, Maine - A minor league baseball team in Maine is going to give away bobblehead dolls of the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress as part of a celebration of women's equality.
The Portland Sea Dogs will give away dolls of Margaret Chase Smith on Aug. 26 as part of Women's Equality Day. Smith served 32 years in Congress and was the first woman whose name was placed in nomination for president at a major party convention.

PORTLAND, Maine - Firefighters and national chemical safety groups are praising Maine's new law banning flame retardants in furniture.
Maine lawmakers this week overrode Republican Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a law that supporters said would reduce firefighters' exposure to carcinogens.
Starting in 2019, a person can't sell upholstered furniture whose materials contain more than one percent of a flame-retardant chemical. The restrictions don't apply to used furniture.

PORTLAND, Maine - Fishing managers say river herring are at historic lows along the East Coast, and their population remains depleted.
An arm of the regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission concluded that herring are low in abundance due to multiple factors including but not limited to fishing. River herring include alewife and blueback herring, which spend most of their lives at sea before returning to rivers and streams to spawn.

The state of Maine is getting almost $8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help pay for improving or replacing 22 state-owned rail bridges in northeastern Maine.  The service is operated by Maine Northern Railway.

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt says the plan is to get the bridges up to the 286,000-pound limit.  He says that's an important factor for a railroad company and anybody shipping.

Ex-'Prairie Home' Host Garrison Keillor Busy As He Nears 75

Aug 4, 2017
Jeff Baenen / Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Former "A Prairie Home Companion'' host Garrison Keillor is keeping busy in retirement.
Keillor turns 75 on Aug. 7. The next day he boards a bus for a 28-city tour that he vows will be his last.
The Minnesota humorist signed off as host of "Prairie Home'' at the Hollywood Bowl last July. He turned the show over to mandolinist Chris Thile, who starts his second season in October.
Keillor tells The Associated Press he misses being on the air, and hasn't listened to the show since leaving.

People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone.

Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ House For Sale

Aug 4, 2017
Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News

For $255,000 the house that inspired internationally known horror writer Stephen King to write “Pet Sematary” can be yours.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A group of U.S. senators including Maine's Angus King is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to exercise caution with the expansion of civil forfeiture.
The Justice Department last month allowed police departments to resume seizing property and cash with federal help. Civil liberties groups say the move creates an avenue for violations of constitutional rights, while law enforcement groups have supported it.

PORTLAND, Maine - The city of Portland is welcoming two special tall ships this weekend on what coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the United States Coast Guard.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the nonprofit group Tall Ships Portland will welcome the Coast Guard's USS Eagle and the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the Portland Harbor. The vessels will be open to the public for free tours Saturday and Sunday.

A Lewiston dentist who had his license temporarily suspended earlier this year is practicing again.

The Maine Board of Dental Practice suspended Dr. Jan Kippax after receiving more than a dozen complaints that alleged he inappropriately restrained patients during dental procedures, conducted procedures before anesthesia took effect, used contaminated gloves and extracted the wrong teeth, among other issues.

In its order in February, the board said it would hold a hearing on the complaints before Kippax’s 30-day suspension expired. But a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine - Authorities in Maine are searching for a missing Massachusetts man after his unmanned sailboat was found on an island.
According to the Coast Guard, local firefighters found the sailboat around Thursday evening on Richmond Island near Cape Elizabeth. Officials say the sailboat's sails were raised but no one was aboard the vessel.
Coast Guard officials say they were able to identify the 80-year-old owner of the sailboat. According to the Coast Guard, the incident is being treated as a possible person in the water.