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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.

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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.”

Maine.gov

A shipyard from East Boothbay has been chosen to build a 250-passenger vessel for the Maine State Ferry Service.

The Maine Department of Transportation is awarding the $8.8 million contract to Washburn & Doughty. The Maine State Ferry Service serves the island communities of Vinalhaven, North Haven, Islesboro, Swans island, Frenchboro and Matinicus.

Maine Public

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is forming a new task force to investigate the underlying causes of a recent increase in police shootings.

Mills invited 13 people with expertise in the fields of addiction, domestic violence and crime to participate.

She says she wants members of the group to start out by asking a lot of questions.

Maine Public

Legislative leaders have voted unanimously to allow a new bill this session that would require more disclosure of the financing of ballot initiatives.

Ellsworth democratic representative Louis Luchini is sponsoring the legislation, which would require more thorough and timely disclosure of the spending to get a ballot question approved.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine sharply criticized military efforts to help law enforcement interdict drugs coming into the United States.

King says there has been little, if any progress, by the military in keeping drugs out of the United States even as the opioid crisis continues to grow and claim more lives.

“It is inexcusable to be sitting here three or four years later and still only being able to interdict 25 percent of the drug shipments that we know about,” he says.

Portland is joining forces with South Portland to develop a collaborative climate action plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Troy Moon, Portland’s sustainability coordinator, presented the plan before the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee on Thursday.

Moon, who has been working on the plan for six months, says their goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2050 is no easy task.

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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 advocates for civil and reproductive rights are urging senators Susan Collins and Angus King to reject the nomination of Kyle Duncan to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eliza Townsend of the Maine Women's Lobby says Duncan was the lead counsel who represented Hobby Lobby, the crafts retailer that successfully won an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's mandate that requires employers to cover birth control for employees.

“He is unfit to be a federal judge,” says Townsend.

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.

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.

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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.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Verso Thursday announced that it plans to upgrade and restart the No.3 paper machine at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay later this year, creating around 120 new full-time jobs.

Verso spokesperson Kathi Rowzie says the machine will be used to manufacture a variety of packaging products rather than the graphic papers formerly produced on the machine.

“We expect the machines to restart in the third quarter of this year,” says Rowzie.

State transportation officials are close to finishing multi-million dollar emergency repairs to an Augusta overpass, but are still at a loss about who caused the damage.

Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Ted Talbot says, by Thursday evening, all the ramps for the Augusta Exit 109 interchange on Western Avenue should be restored to their original configuration.

Last October a DOT maintenance worker discovered that a vehicle had struck an exterior bridge beam, causing significant damage.

The body of a 62-year-old man was found Thursday morning near Lower Wass Cover on the Pleasant River, in Washington County.

Delbert Caler of Harrington, went missing last night. He was a licensed shellfish harvester and he's believed to have been clamming when he went missing.

Caler was found after a search by the Maine Marine Patrol, the Warden Service, and local people.

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