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.

Peter Duley / NEFSC/NOAA

The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered large whale species on Earth. The principal cause of right whale fatalities is entanglement with fishing gear, including lobster trap lines. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say new technology could stop these ensnarements, but some lobstermen say the cost of adopting the new gear would be prohibitive.

Woods Hole Director Michael Moore says the right whale is really in trouble, and something has to be done to stop entanglements.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The Maine Renewable Energy Association has filed suit against Gov. Paul LePage over a wind moratorium he issued by executive order in January.

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.

It could soon be easier to get short-term health insurance under proposed rules released by the Trump administration Tuesday.

The administration says short-term plans are an affordable alternative to plans offered on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. But health care advocates say the cheaper options actually come at a cost.

Maine State Police

The chief of the Maine State Police is leaving that post next month to take a job as director of security at Colby College.

Col. Robert Williams has led the Maine State Police for nearly seven years, but his career in law enforcement spans more than three decades.

A native of central Maine, Williams began as a state trooper in 1983, and rose through the ranks until being named colonel in 2011 by Gov. Paul LePage.

Tom Porter / Maine Public/file

Workers at Hannaford’s South Portland distribution center could soon go on strike after more than 200 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union overwhelmingly authorized a strike last weekend.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The future of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport is now at the center of a political showdown at the State House.

The closure of the minimum security prison would mean more than the loss of state jobs Down East, it would also unravel a system that has supplied the region with labor from prison work release programs and from former inmates who decided to stay in Washington County to rebuild their lives.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public File

Maine’s recreational marijuana law allows adults to grow up to six flowering plants for personal and recreational use — but the legislative committee that’s overhauling the law is trying to cut that allotment by half.

Supporters of the proposal under consideration say it would give municipalities more flexibility to craft their own home-grow rules. They also say that the larger limit of six plants creates extra supply, which could potentially find its way onto the black market, especially if out-of-state traffickers pay Maine landowners to cultivate on their property.

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. “

Flickr

The LePage administration last year announced a plan to devote almost $5 million in state and federal money to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, especially for people who don't have health insurance. The "Opioid Health Home" program was supposed to be a big step forward in comprehensively dealing with the opioid crisis.

AP Photo

After the school shooting in Florida this week, President Trump vowed to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” But the president's proposed budget would cut many programs that provide mental health services.

President Trump's proposed budget does include some increases in funding for mental health. However, Dale Hamilton of Community Health and Counseling Services, says the overall takeaway for Maine is that “President Trump's budget will not advance access to mental health services.”

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky is calling for an investigation into the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, alleging that the state’s liquor stores are engaging in business practices that could “unquestionably facilitate money laundering related to criminal activities.”

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

President Donald Trump, members of Congress and state lawmakers were quick to react to another mass shooting — this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Maine.gov

The State Senate, with a vote of 31 to 3, has signaled its desire to keep the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Washington County open for another year. But the margin of support in the House was less than what is needed to override an expected veto of the bill by Governor LePage, who abruptly closed the facility last week.

pihs.sad1.org

A unique school tradition will come to an end in one Aroostook County town next year. Wednesday night, the school board for SAD 1, in Presque Isle, voted to eliminate “harvest break” – a three week period in the fall when students leave the classroom and help to harvest potatoes. In recent years other towns have also eliminated the break. However, school officials expect that the unusual practice will continue in a few places.

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