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.

Ways to Connect

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Scarborough Republican Amy Volk has been elected by her fellow GOP senators to serve as assistant majority leader. She’ll replace Sen. Andre Cushing of Newport, who resigned from the position last month, saying he didn’t have the time to do the job.

Volk says with both Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Majority Leader Garett Mason running for governor, “It could potentially make my role a little more important than usual, neither is eligible to return in any case.”

Gov. Paul LePage says he will allow a bill that delays implementation of ranked-choice voting become law without his signature.

“I encourage the people who want to have a people’s veto to bring it in. The Supreme Court has already said it is unconstitutional, so let the courts decide,” he says.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed a measure aimed at regulating the retail sale of marijuana in the state.

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

Maine’s two major power companies say they are making headway in restoring service to homes and businesses after Sunday night's storm.

Central Maine Power is reporting about 122,000 outages and Emera Maine has reduced the number of without service to 24,000. 

On Monday, those numbers were close to half a million. Still, CMP President Sara Burns says the steady progress is no solace to those who are still waiting in the dark.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage and other state political figures have been targets of Russian-backed disinformation campaigns. That’s according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who revealed the findings at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington.

Collins says Russian Facebook pages were used in an effort to spread discord during the 2016 elections, and continues today. She quoted from posts on a known Russian Facebook page that was critical of LePage.

This story was originally published at 3:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

One of the questions on next Tuesday’s statewide ballot asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment to change the debt repayment schedule in the retirement system for state workers and public-school teachers.

It hasn’t garnered much attention, even though payments to the system totaled $320 million last year — more than the total budget for the courts and the Legislature combined. Supporters of the proposed change say it will bring more stability to the system.

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law legislation addressing federal objections to Maine’s food sovereignty law passed earlier this year.

Without the changes to address food safety, federal officials would have taken over the state’s food inspections of meat and poultry, and several slaughterhouses would have been put out of business.

The original bill allowed cities and towns to regulate the production, processing and direct sales of food to consumers, which have been regulated by the state and federal governments.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Assistant Senate GOP Leader Andre Cushing of Newport has resigned from his leadership post, saying he wants to devote more time to his family.

Republican sources say there’s a need to have someone in the role that will help the GOP keep control of the Senate, and that Cushing can’t commit the time needed to both serve as a senator and direct the campaign efforts.

Cushing has filed to run for re-election to the Senate. Republican senators could elect a new assistant leader next month when they return to the State House to handle vetoes from the special session.

State revenues are above estimates for the first three months of the budget year.

David Gunter of Maine Revenue Services told the state’s Economic Forecasting Commission that the revenue growth reflects Maine’s improving economy.

“July through September revenues doing quite well. Revenues were over budget by almost $34 million,” he says.

Both the individual and corporate income taxes were above projections, with individual income taxes driving additional revenue. Sales taxes also were above estimates.

Legislative leaders have tabled action on three bills designed to make sure the state takes some $9 million in federal job training funds blocked by Gov. Paul LePage.

Lawmakers return to the State House for their second regular session in January. They’re already proposing more than 250 new bills for consideration. Legislative leaders are meeting Thursday to decide which measures will be allowed into the session.

Maine Things Considered host Nora Flaherty spoke with Maine Public reporter Mal Leary about the proposals and what might happen to them.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Flaherty: That is a lot of bills to take up in the four months of the session.

Maine independent U.S. Sen. Angus King says Congress has abdicated its responsibility to oversee the use of military forces in combat missions around the world.

Appearing on MSNBC, King said Congress needs to update the resolution authorizing use of combat forces.

“We haven’t passed even a bare authorization since the week after September 11th," King said, "and I don’t think you can argue with a straight face that that authorization covers what we are doing now.”

Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says the emergency bill passed by the Legislature will prevent a crisis in Maine agriculture.

“The bill that passed over the course of the spring and summer was a huge disruption. In fact, it might have been one of the worst efforts to stop the growth of Maine agriculture, with the best of intentions, perhaps,” he says.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

A new federal report predicts that the effects of climate change will cost federal taxpayers a trillion dollars over the next two decades.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins was among those who called for the study from the Government Accountability Office.

“There has not been nearly enough analysis on the consequences, for our economy, for the federal budget,” Collins says.

The Republican senator says the study shows that Congress must invest in initiatives and policies that mitigate the impacts of climate change, and avoid huge additional budget costs.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Maine lawmakers have passed a compromise bill to implement the citizen initiated measure allowing the retail sale of marijuana in the state. But it faces a likely veto.