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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AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Public Utilities commissioners have unanimously rejected FairPoint's request to get about $67 million a year from the so-called Universal Service Fund to pay for what's called "provider of last resort service" to nearly 30,000 Mainers.

It's a good decision, says Maine Public Advocate Tim Schnieder.

"We think the commission reached the right outcome," he says. "But, really, this is just the beginning of an ongoing process to figure out how to make sure Mainers have continued availability, universal access, to quality telecommunications."

Mal Leary / MPBN

BATH, Maine - The top admiral in charge of Navy ship construction says 300 ships will be needed to meet future needs around the world, and that Bath Iron Works is crucial to achieving that goal. But Vice Adm. William Hilarides, who was on hand for a change of command ceremony in Bath today, acknowledges that the Navy is being asked to do more with less.

The federal government’s budget runs out at the end of the month and Maine’s congressional delegation say that likely means another continuing resolution to keep government going. But as Mal Leary reports, none of Maine's members of Congress want a CR, they want a new budget.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent that serves on both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, says President Barack Obama is right to be cautious in policies aimed at containing ISIS, the radical group that calls itself The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"These guys are really dangerous," he said in an interview with MPBN News. "No. 1, they are smart and very well led, No. 2, they are absolutely dedicated and passionate, and No. 3, apparently they have no scruples, totally brutal."

WASHINGTON - Sometimes you have to wonder about the bill titles they think up in Washington:  How about the VARIETY Act?  That’s the "Vegetables Are Really Important Eating Tools For You Act."  But there is an interesting policy proposal behind the awkward title.

What’s behind the bill is the attempt to convince those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - known as SNAP for short, and otherwise known as food stamps - to eat more healthy foods.  It offers an incentive to do that by giving recipients more benefits each month.

A proposal before the Federal Communications Commission that would allow Internet providers to set different prices for access has members of Maine's congressional delegation concerned. But that concern may not translate into support for legislation to override a decision by the FCC.

 

So many Americans are concerned about possible changes to the Internet that more than a million comments have been filed with the FCC, crashing the agency’s Web site in July, and leading to a deadline extension now set for Sept. 15.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills just don't see eye-to-eye on the role of the AG's office in representing the governor and other parts of the executive branch of government.  The dispute has become quite vocal, as both Mills and LePage seem willing to make their feelings known.

 

Mal Leary / MPBN

Hundreds of farmers, their families and agri-businesses have taken over the Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton for the annual Maine Farm Days celebration.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, a dairy farmer,  said it’s a celebration of Maine agriculture.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The State Board of Corrections has voted unanimously to ask lawmakers in January for an additional $2 million, as the state’s county jails continue to face budget problems from higher-than-projected costs and more inmates than estimated.

 

For weeks, the Board of Corrections and its staff have been hearing from county officials about the budget problems facing the jails. They got a supplemental appropriation to get through the budget year that ended June 30, but higher costs of operation, driven by more inmates are continuing in the new budget year.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Members of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee meet next month to receive the results of a consultant’s study on the feasibility of locating one or more additional casinos in the state, as well as where they should be located. Lawmakers are optimistic about this study, unlike one last year that accomplished nothing.

 

The state collected $8 million more in revenues for the first month of the state budget year. All three of the top tax sources beat expectations in July, said state Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen.

"The personal income tax doing well, corporate income tax collections doing well," Rosen said.  “The sales tax, for the first time in the last few months, is showing a modest improvement over what was projected."

Mal Leary / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Members of the Constitutional Coalition of Maine have formed a new group called We The People of Maine.  Phil Merletti, one of the organizers, says the group aims to act as a watchdog over government at all levels in Maine.

"As far as we know, no one has ever organized a constitutional corporation based on the premises that, from this day forward, every action in the state of Maine will be scrutinized and compared to the national and Maine Constitutions," Merletti said today at an Augusta news conference.

Tom Porter / MPBN

WASHINGTON - As part of the proposed budget for the Department of Transportation, the Obama administration is asking for authority to regulate use of GPS devices in vehicles to improve public safety. Members of Maine’s congressional delegation give the proposal mixed reviews.

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AUGUSTA, Maine - Some call them e-cigarettes, others call them personal vaporizers. But whatever you call them, use of the devices is growing, and that has prompted Maine Attorney General Janet Mills to review state laws covering their use. Mills is meeting with health advocates and others over the summer to look at possible changes to state law.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A state commission looking at the high cost of higher education, and the barriers to completing a degree program, reached out today to hear from current students about the costs of attending college. The panel got an earful about increasing costs and hidden expenses that are typically overlooked.

 

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