Maine Things Considered

4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Weekdays at 4 p.m. join host Nora Flaherty and hear Maine’s only daily statewide radio news program. Maine Public Radio's award-winning news staff brings you the latest news from across Maine and the region, as well as in-depth reports on the most important issues.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Across Maine, public schools can’t find enough qualified foreign language teachers. Already, schools are cutting programs and pondering lower standards because of the shortage.

In the first of a three-part series, Robbie Feinberg looks at the cause of the problem, and how it’s already affecting education in Maine.

The commercial value of farmed Maine mollusks could quadruple over the next 15 years. That’s the conclusion of a market survey sponsored by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

Last year, sales of Maine shellfish grown by aquaculture were worth around $6 million. The new report puts that in national perspective: Despite its dominance in the American market for wild-caught lobster, the state supplies only about 1 percent of the nation’s farmed shellfish.

It says that with some investment and marketing, sales of Maine-grown shellfish should reach $30 million.

Maine’s insurance co-op, Community Health Options, is dropping elective abortion coverage for 2017. Co-op officials say it’s a cost-saving measure, but abortion advocates are decrying the move as a step backwards for women’s health.

The backdrop to eliminating elective abortion coverage, says Community Health Options CEO Kevin Lewis, is that the co-op is still digging itself out of a $31 million deficit it accumulated last year.

The Pentagon is under fire following news reports that described how hundreds of National Guard members and veterans in California are being asked to pay back enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses they received during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon now says some of those payments were improperly paid out. And the same recruitment program was also used in Maine.

Question 5 on this year’s ballot proposes a dramatic overhaul of Maine’s election system called ranked-choice voting, and recent polls suggest Mainers are open to the using it to elect their governor, state legislators and members of Congress. But the biggest obstacle facing the Yes on 5 campaign isn’t well-funded opposition or even organized opposition — it’s voter confusion.

When enrollment opens next week, shoppers in the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance marketplace will see, on average, double digit increases in premiums. Subsidies will help cushion the blow for most of the 84,000 Mainers who enrolled last year, but some consumers and small businesses will have to absorb the higher costs.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The rare New England cottontail rabbit and other shrubland species are getting some new help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency is targeting 15,000 acres of land in six northeastern states, including Maine, to be included in a new Great Thickets National Wildlife Refuge.

It has been almost 15 years since environmentalists and others noticed a decline in the shrub-loving New England cottontail. Since then, a growing, multistate conservation effort has attempted to prevent further decline.

Sixteen of Maine’s biggest manufacturers, from Verso Paper to Jackson Laboratories, are in line to get millions of dollars from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. The payments are seen by some as equitable payback for the millions the companies have shelled out for the cap and trade program.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Some polls have shown Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump riding high in Maine’s traditionally more conservative 2nd Congressional District. But at least one national pollster is now saying that recent missteps by Trump are causing him to lose ground in northern Maine.

You may have been hearing a lot on the news about the five referenda on the Maine ballot this November as well as the political ads. But there is actually also a “question six” as well. It asks voters to approve borrowing of $100 million for transportation projects.

TOPS students riding the bus
Susan Sharon/maine public

For special education students, attitudes are changing. Barriers to employment, independent living and even college are being lowered. But there is a need for more specialized training for students with developmental disabilities, especially toward the end of high school. And a unique, year-round program is helping to fill that void.

Portland landlord Gregory Nisbet has been acquitted of manslaughter in the deaths of six people who died in a fire at his Noyes Street property two years ago.

Former Maine Sen. George Mitchell speaks at a symposium in Waterville Thursday on civility in politics.
Mal Leary/maine public

WATERVILLE, Maine - At a statewide symposium on civility in politics held by the Maine Council of Churches, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell denounced the incivility of this year’s campaigns and called for a return to principled discourse.

For the last month, about 60 workers at the Maine Military Authority in Limestone have been mentally preparing to enter the ranks of the unemployed while the state attempts to renegotiate a bus refurbishment contract with Massachusetts. Tomorrow was supposed to be the last day on the job for two-thirds of the workforce, but the employees have received a temporary reprieve.

Cullen Ryan Speaks Out Against Proposed DHHS Rules Changes
Patty Wight/MPBN

Families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are urging Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to abandon a proposed rule change that they say would impinge on services for their loved ones.