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.

It's Thursday and we are talking politics on Across the Aisle. This week, Dick Woodbury, an economist and former independent legislator; Mike Cianchette, an attorney and former chief counsel to Gov. Paul LePage; and public affairs consultant David Farmer, who served as deputy chief of staff for Gov. John Baldacci.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Finding a pack of blueberries these days is as easy as pie — they’re plentiful in both the fresh and frozen sections of the supermarket. But while the supply is high, the market price has taken a dive, and that has growers feeling blue.

Local property taxes are too high, and the state should do more to relieve that burden. That was the message from some who testified today before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee, which is considering several proposals aimed at providing more state aid to local government.

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Even in this politically polarized era, there is one issue on which most state policymakers agree: Maine’s roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair. The only debate is how to pay for it, in a time of declining gas tax revenues.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Several investigations are underway into what prompted American Airlines to remove a blind Maine woman from a plane in Washington, D.C., and leave her in the terminal with her seeing eye dog.

Maine has left nearly $2 billion of federal funds on the table over the past five years, according to a progressive think tank, which attributes half of that amount to a decision to not expand Medicaid.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy says it undertook the study to bring together scattered reports about grants not sought and available funds not accessed by the state. Center Director Garrett Martin says that in addition to the loss of Medicaid expansion funds under the Affordable Care Act, the state missed out on matching highway funds estimated at $196 million.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

This week, an Islamic women’s activist and global advocate for women’s equality is bringing her message to Maine. Zainah Anwar of Malaysia is meeting with students at several schools over the next few days and capping off her visit to the state with a public lecture Thursday evening at the University of Southern Maine.

Tuesday morning, she spoke to students at Deering High School in Portland, where several Muslim female students also shared their experiences.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press file

Some Maine fishermen say that they’ve always been at a disadvantage when trying to compete with their Canadian counterparts. Now, the Maine lobster industry is weighing a pending trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that could adversely affect lobster prices in Maine.

A broad coalition of solar power businesses, environmental advocates and industrial energy users want state regulators to reconsider new rules for solar power adopted earlier this year. But the move may just be a prelude to litigation — or legislative action.

In January Maine’s Public Utilities Commission ordered a 15-year ramp-down of credits rooftop solar users can earn when they put excess electricity on the power grid, often called “net metering.”

Maine Public/file

David Rockefeller — banker, philanthropist and summer resident of Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island — died Monday, just a few months shy of his 102nd birthday.

To mark his 100th birthday in 2015, Rockefeller donated 1,000 acres of land adjacent to Acadia. At the time, Rockefeller said he was compelled by his personal connection to Mount Desert.

“I realized that Seal Harbor, maybe more than any other location that I can think of in the world, has been important to me since I first came here when I was three months old, in my parent’s hands,” he said.

The issue of metal mining in Maine and how it should be regulated has been debated numerous times in the Legislature, but never settled. Environmentalists and residents of Aroostook County converged on the State House Monday for another go.

Lawmakers are reviewing seven different bills. One contains provisional mining rules unanimously approved by the Board of Environmental Protection in January. It would allow mining operators to apply for a permit, and mining companies would have to provide proof that they have the financial means to pay for cleanup costs.

The voter-approved surtax to provide additional money for Maine’s schools was both attacked and supported at a lengthy public hearing before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee.

School funding has long stirred political passions in Maine. In 2004 a group led by the Maine Education Association successfully passed a citizen-initiated referendum calling on the state to pay for 55 percent of the cost of local schools. Successive legislatures ignored that vote.

The Maine Legislature is considering a bill that prohibit the keeping of any kind of list or registry of gun owners in the state. It has some backing, but even supporters say the current version goes too far.

The measure, as drafted, would ban the keeping of any list of Maine gun owners in any form, including any computer database or paper document. Windham Republican Rep. Patrick Corey introduced the measure.

“The release of information about gun ownership has the potential for the discrimination, retaliation, harassment and victimization of gun owners,” he says.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Every year Francophonie Week in Maine recognizes French heritage and culture with a series of films, discussions and musical performances around the state.

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine State Archives and Library would like to make its trove of documents available for internet searching. But there's a problem:  Much of the oldest material in its collection is hand-written - letters, diaries, even flyers. In order to make that searchable, someone has to transcribe that content word by word. And, as Irwin Gratz reports, that someone could be you.

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