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.

Local Issues Could Draw Maine Voters to Polls

Jun 9, 2014

Voter turnout is expected to be low for tomorrow's primary election in Maine. Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says that turnout in primaries typically ranges from 10 to 20 percent of the electorate, depending on the year and the number of high-profile races on the ballot. The two marquee races this year are the Republican and Democratic primaries in the 2nd Congressional District. There are, though, some local issues that may motivate voters to head to the polls. Maine Things Considered host Tom Porter talks with MPBN's Jay Field about some of them.

Caroline Losneck / File photo

The woman aiming to replace Susan Collins in the U.S. Senate is taking her campaign on the road, literally. Shenna Bellows says she'll set out next month on foot on a 350-mile trek from Aroostook County to southernmost Maine. This particular brand of retail politicking has a rich history in Maine.

"I think any hiker will tell you that a good walk starts in a shoe store," says Shenna Bellows.

If you're talking politics in Maine's 2nd Congressional District and someone mentions how they've never seen two Republicans go after each other with such a vengeance, you might assume they're referring to GOP rivals Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin. Unless, of course, you happened to be in Piscataquis County - the site of an intense primary battle between two conservative Republicans vying for a state Senate seat. The race in District 4 between incumbent Doug Thomas of Ripley and challenger Paul Davis of Sangerville has turned decidedly negative.

Telling Room: 'A Strike of Stars' by Cameron Jury

Jun 8, 2014

Every Friday this summer, we're featuring the work of young writers in partnership with the Telling Room In Portland. This installment is called "A Strike of Stars" by Cameron Jury, a seventh grader at Scarborough Middle School. The poem was inspired by a school workshop on "Wild Maine Weather."

The push to get proficiency-based education into more New England high schools got a boost this week, when 55 public universities in five states endorsed this hands-on approach to learning. Under proficiency-based systems, students need to continuously show that they're mastering key skills in their subjects throughout their high school careers. Proponents say the stamp of approval from public universities and community colleges will mean a more seamless postsecondary transition for students who've been educated this way.

There is a rare point of agreement among the three leading candidates for governor: They all agree that the bump up in the state's bond rating is good news. A few years ago, Moody's Investor Services lowered Maine's credit rating slightly by saying it had a negative outlook for its Double A-2 rating. For the bond sale scheduled for later this month, Moody's improved that status to a "stable outlook." And Gov. Paul LePage says a further improvement could propel a major bond package from the administration.

Mal Leary / MPBN

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud says he would create an Office of Inspector General for the state Department of Health and Human Services to identify waste and fraud. Michaud says that under the administration of his Republican rival, Gov. Paul LePage, Maine's largest state agency has been mismanaged, and mired in scandal. Michaud's Blaine House opponents say the plan would simply increase the size of government bureaucracy with no guarantees of greater accountability.

It's Thursday, and time once again for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics, with Dan Demeritt, a political consultant and former communications director for Gov. Paul LePage, Cynthia Dill, a practicing attorney and former Democratic state senator, and Dick Woodbury, an economist and tax policy consultant for the independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. They spoke with Keith Shortall.

A transcript for this story is not available.

Maine Communities Adopting 'Project Lifesaver'

Jun 5, 2014
Tom Porter / MPBN

The tragic case last month of Jaden Dremsa highlights the dangers facing autistic children who wander from home - particularly in overwhelmingly rural and sparsely populated states like Maine. The Waterboro teenager, who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, disappeared May 8, prompting a massive search. His body was found in a nearby lake nine days later. There are estimated to be more than 3,000 children and young adults in Maine listed as having an autism spectrum disorder.

Most Maine high schools say they need more time to begin awarding diplomas based on proficiency and not seat time or credit hours. Last week, the state gave high schools the option to complete this work by 2020, instead of 2018. A handful, though, don't need any extension.

The story of how Searsport District High School became a leader in proficiency-based learning began, as many education reform experiments do, after the school kind of hit bottom. In 1997, Searsport lost its accreditation as a high school. Six years later, the school got thrown a lifeline.

What goes up, as they say, must come down. But the law of gravity doesn't necessarily apply to insurance premiums. Next year, Maine insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act's online Marketplace will generally go up, but far less than expected.

Forty-one percent. One-hundred percent. Four-hundred percent. These were some of the projections on how much insurance premiums would rise on the individual insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

The contentious campaign to unseat Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce today entered a new arena - the state Ethics Commission. Joyce filed a complaint with the commission asking the agency's staff to investigate whether his Democratic opponent, Michael Edes, coordinated his campaign with the activities of a political action Committee called Citizens for a Safe Cumberland County. The PAC has paid for numerous mailings and radio ads targeting Joyce and supporting Edes.

According to newly released federal data, Maine ranks 17 percent below the national average in Medicare expenditures. While some hold up the report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as evidence of low hospital costs in Maine, health policy advocates say the numbers may not be as promising as they seem.

Gov. Paul LePage has suggested that top Democrats at the State House "butt out" of the business of the executive branch. It all started last week when Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves sent a letter to LePage urging that he immediately terminate the controversial contract with the Alexander Group to study the state's welfare system. The governor responded with a letter and some comments. And the partisan tensions that characterized the legislative session are continuing long after the last bang of the gavel.