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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Mal Leary / Maine Public

Leaders of the Maine Legislature Tuesday night agreed to allow bills aimed at boosting security at public schools to be considered this session, but refused to allow in a pair of bills aimed at limiting the damage a gun can do.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Less than a month after the LePage administration announced a controversial plan to overhaul the county jail system, the governor is backing away from the proposal, which was billed as a way to save $10 million.

State funding for county jails runs out at the end of June, and it’s unclear where lawmakers go from here.

Maine's Revenue Forecasting Commission says the state’s economy is growing, and is generating tens of millions more revenue than had been projected last year.

Commission Chairman Mike Allen, of Maine Revenue Services, says the higher estimates are being driven by an expectation of increased revenues from personal income taxes.

“The consensus Economic Forecasting Committee, their new forecast that they issued on February first, is much more optimistic for 2018 and 2019,” Allen says.

Gov. Paul LePage was among the governors who met with President Donald Trump on Monday to discuss gun violence, among other issues.

LePage told Fox News that the nation’s background check system should include a person’s mental health history, not just their criminal history.

“We gotta get the guns way from people in domestic violence, we got to get guns away from people that have committed crimes against others, and I do believe we have to look at mental illness as something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says if it were up to her, the Senate would be moving much more quickly on proposed gun legislation.

“I would be holding hearings this week to evaluate these various proposals that have been put forth to deal with this epidemic of gun violence,” she says.

A legislative committee voted unanimously Monday to fix what it says is “a mistake” buried in Maine’s nearly 1,000-page two-year budget.

The wording in question limits the prize any non-profit can award in a fund-raising raffle to $1,000. Republican state Sen. Roger Katz, of Augusta, says it's not clear how the provision ended up in the budget.

“No one seems to know what happened here," he says. "No one I have spoken with thinks the change was a good idea or recalls any in-depth discussion of it.”

Maine Public

In the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shootings last week, Democrats in the Maine Legislature are hoping to introduce a number of last-minute gun control bills next week, including a ban on “bump stocks,” devices that are used to boost the performance of semiautomatic rifles. However, one Republican leader says it’s too late in the session to take up such major legislation.

Members of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee have split along party lines over a proposal to charge an annual fee on new electric cars and hybrid powered vehicles.

Governor Paul LePage says a fee of $250 on electric vehicles, and $150 on hybrids, will assure that the owners of those cars and trucks pay something towards the maintenance of roads and bridges. Much of Maine’s highway infrastructure is currently funded by a tax on gasoline.

The LePage administration is telling two key legislative committees that it will not take any steps to implement the expansion of Medicaid that was approved by voters until money is appropriated to pay for it.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Ricker Hamilton outlined the administration's stance in a letter to the co-chairs of the Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees.

AP Photo

Maine lawmakers are considering a resolution aimed at forcing the federal government to balance its budget. The measure would ask for a constitutional convention.

There has only been one constitutional convention in the history of the United States. But under a provision in the constitution, the states can request another be held, as long as three quarters of state legislatures go along. So far, 27 of the 34 states needed have approved a call for a balanced budget convention.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage is publicly questioning the character of Maine Supreme Court Justice Joseph Jabar after he says Jabar went back on a personal promise to retire before the end of his seven-year term, if LePage agreed to reappoint him.

Courtesy Maine National Guard

War experience is now common among most current members of the Maine National Guard, the head of the force told Maine lawmakers Tuesday.

In his annual "State of the National Guard" speech to the Maine Legislature, Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham said most Guard members now serving have been active during a war somewhere around the globe.

“Most of our soldiers and airmen have never known the military not at war - in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or wherever we need to go to fight violent extremism,” he said.

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that requires more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives. 

Rep. Louis Luchini, a Democrat from Ellsworth, is sponsoring the legislation. It requires more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

“What is really important to me is to, I think, understand all of the financing issues," Luchini says. "That’s something we really saw last year during the casino campaign where lots of money was flowing in, we didn’t know where it was coming from. “

Maine Public

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that would require more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives.

Ellsworth democratic representative Louis Luchini is sponsoring the legislation, which would require more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine sharply criticized military efforts to help law enforcement interdict drugs coming into the United States.

King says there has been little, if any progress, by the military in keeping drugs out of the United States even as the opioid crisis continues to grow and claim more lives.

“It is inexcusable to be sitting here three or four years later and still only being able to interdict 25 percent of the drug shipments that we know about,” he says.