Mal Leary

Maine Public Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

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With no advance notice to county sheriffs and few details, the Maine Department of Corrections has announced a plan to overhaul the state’s county jail system, close five jails and create a new oversight commission to manage them.

The proposal was contained in a report released on Friday and mandated in the budget approved last July.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press/file

The temporary spending bill Congress passed a few weeks ago runs out on Friday, and Republican leaders are talking about yet another short-term spending bill.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Advocates of ranked choice voting are celebrating today, as they submitted signatures that restore a law passed two years ago in Maine.

Mainers will see a significant increase in their state income taxes unless the Legislature takes swift action this session.

The sweeping tax reform bill passed in December will reduce federal income taxes for most Mainers, but because the state piggybacks its own income tax on the federal code, the changes will result in major increases in state income taxes.

Finance Commissioner Alec Porteous gave the bad news to a joint meeting of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Taxation committees.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District has raised more than $2 million for his re-election campaign, well outpacing his opponents.

Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission indicate that Poliquin, the sole Republican in the race, has raised nearly $2.2 million.

A legislative committee is considering new oversight options in response to a federal report that sharply criticized Maine for failing to investigate the deaths of Mainers with developmental disabilities in the Medicaid program.

A report from the Federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) says the state failed to investigate the deaths of more than 130 Medicaid recipients with developmental disabilities. The OIG report found that nine of the deaths were unexplained, suspicious or untimely.

Mary Schwalm / Associated Press File

Bath Iron Works could get another tax break under legislation being considered this session in Augusta, which comes as a 20-year-old break for the shipyard is about to run out.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Angus King says when President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, he has an opportunity to make history. 

Speaking as part of a Washington Post preview on the State of the Union, the Maine independent said the president could lay the groundwork for compromises around several key policy issues. 

But King said Trump must resist the urge to take jabs at his opponents. “People go into these things wanting be to feel uplifted, and positive. And if he can do that and resist the urge to jab people, I think it will be successful.”

The Maine Legislature is considering a proposal that would increase the possible jail time for a second offense of “visual sexual aggression” aimed at a child.

Under current law, the maximum penalty for exposing oneself to a child in Maine is one year in jail even with a prior offense. Sen. Eloise Vitelli, a Democrat from Arrowsic, is sponsoring a bill that would increase that sentence to five years in prison.

She says she sponsored the proposal at the request of a mother of a 13-year-old victim.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

The progressive advocacy group the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) has a filed petition with the Secretary of State to force consideration of a citizens’ initiative that outlines a major expansion of home-based care for seniors and the individuals with disabilities. The initiative also seeks to increase pay to the providers of those services. The proposal immediately drew criticism from business groups.

A few weeks ago, Augusta police were inundated with hundreds of complaints that a convicted sex offender in the community was taking pictures of children in public places. Lawmakers will consider a proposal to make that a crime.

Augusta Republican Rep. Matt Pouilot said he was surprised and disgusted when parents told him about the incident, and again when police said there was no law being broken.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr

Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says an online degree program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle could serve as a model for the rest of the country.

“The goal of this program is to give individuals with some college experience and credit a pathway to complete their degree,” Collins said Thursday morning at Senate Education Committee meeting.

Collins, a member of the committee, told a panel of experts testifying on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that the program has drawn the interest of older Mainers.

  Many Maine towns are governed by boards of selectmen. Lawmakers are considering a bill to change those references in state law to selectpersons.

“The term selectman is antiquated in contrast to the more appropriate term selectperson," says Rep. Richard Malaby, the bill’s sponsor. "This is especially true given the increased participation rate of women in our state and local government.”

Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press File

The Maine Legislature is considering a proposal to dismantle the citizen-passed legislation that increases the minimum wage to $12 an hour over several years.

The bill, subject to a public hearing Wednesday, would reduce the current minimum wage from $10 an hour to $9.50 in June, reaching a maximum of $11 an hour in 2021. It would also eliminate the yearly cost of living adjustment that would have begun that same year.

The legislation was endorsed by the LePage administration. Labor Commissioner John Butera called the existing wage law a burden on businesses and seniors.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit former public sector employees who receive retirement benefits from going back to work in related jobs.

Supporters of the bill say it’s unfair when a retiree comes back into the workforce and deprives current workers of the chance for advancement. They also argue that the practice contributes to the unfunded liability of the retirement system.

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