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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The legislature is back in session, but whether they will extend the session to consider dozens of bills is uncertain.

Lawmakers dealt with twenty vetoes from Governor LePage in a few hours, overriding some and sustaining others. But then the House stalled over extending the session to consider a number of bills still before lawmakers.

House Speaker Sarah Gideon offered a four-day extension, and an attempt to reduce that to a single day failed, and now further votes are expected.

This fall, Maine voters will be asked to vote on a new tax for those with incomes over $128,000. Money from the tax is intended to pay for a variety of home-based care programs for seniors and others. More than two dozen various business groups are opposing the ballot initiative.

Marina Villeneuve / Associated Press

John Williams of Madison was formally charged with murder in connection with the death of Somerset County deputy Eugene Cole at his first court appearance Monday in Kennebec County. A police affidavit revealed some new details in the case, but doesn’t shed light on why Cole was shot.

Justice Robert Mullen ordered a mental health examination of Williams and agreed to prosecutors’ request for a change of venue to Cumberland County. Williams stared straight ahead as he sat with his court-appointed lawyers and answered questions from the judge.

Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

Maine Lawmakers are coming back Wednesday to deal with more than a dozen vetoes issued by Gov. Paul LePage. But it's not clear how they will resolve a list of other major issues, including school funding, that are still on the table.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

About 200 officers from various federal, state and local departments, working 12-hour shifts, spent the third day of the intensive manhunt for John Williams, going door-to-door around Norridgwock, searching from the air and focusing on some woods near the Martin Stream Road.

Harry Hamburg / AP Photo

Maine Senator Angus King is defending the proposed Defense Department budget as necessary to make up for repeated cuts in funding. Addressing fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, King says that it is time to compensate for cuts in the maintenance of weapon systems.

King says that adjusting for inflation, this year’s $691 billion proposed military budget is less than what was spent eight years ago. He says that since 2010, congress has reduced the actual funding for the military, including across-the-board cuts resulting from the sequestration process.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

The five independents in the Maine legislature have come together to propose a compromise concerning the tax conformity plan. This effort is an attempt to get lawmakers talking about a major unresolved issue.

“I would guess there will be a number of people who will say we haven’t found the best answer,” says former Republican turned Independent Norm Higgins of Dover-Foxcroft. “But I think we have begun the conversation about what a best answer might look like.”

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is pressing both civilian and military leadership to distribute future shipbuilding contracts to keep Bath Iron Works and its competitor in Mississippi busy.

“In the fiscal year omnibus bill Congress decided to authorize the DDG-51 multi-year," Collins said, at a budget hearing on Capitol Hill.  That will spread the construction of new Arleigh Burke class destroyers over several years.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District questioned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday about proposed cuts in the agency’s budget that could affect organic farmers.

The House Appropriations Committee is holding hearings on the Agriculture Department budget, and Pingree serves on the subcommittee that oversees agriculture. She told Perdue the agency should not decrease funding for programs that have helped organic farmers.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine is urging top Navy officials to find more ships to help interdict drugs coming into the country.

King says there are only enough ships to prevent 25 percent of the known drug shipments coming into the country, and called it a matter of national defense. At a budget hearing Tuesday, he urged Navy officials to divert some warships from current missions to help stop the flow of drugs that are killing Americans every day.

A measure that would have given voters the chance to amend the state constitution and change how citizen initiative questions get on the ballot is dead — at least for this session.

On Tuesday, the Maine Senate approved the measure by the two-thirds needed to send a constitutional amendment to voters, but the House didn’t.

Maine Public/file

The United States Supreme Court has upheld a Maine law that limits noise generated by protestors outside medical facilities.

The case arose when a pastor challenged the state law's noise limit that was used to restrict his anti-abortion protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Congress is in the middle of reauthorizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. The House Agriculture Committee has released its draft bill, but advocates in Maine say they’re worried that President Donald Trump may push for cuts or further conditions that could place a burden on low-income families.

Maine voters will decide on an initiative that would provide elderly and disabled people help with daily activities, like bathing and medication management. The Maine Senate Friday voted to hold a public hearing on the measure first, but the House chose to send the issue directly to the public.

Most Senators argued that a public hearing would help to educate the public about the issue they will vote on, but others argued that a campaign before the election would serve that same purpose, and that voters will be educated by the campaign in the fall.

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