Maine Public

Congress is on break for two weeks, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says she has been meeting with health care providers, who are expressing similar fears about the future of the health care system.

She says they are very worried about cuts to services that have either already been made or are under consideration.

It's Thursday, and time for the Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics. This week, Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Legislature as an independent; Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising, a former Republican lawmaker; and Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in Augusta as a Democrat.

LM Otero / Associated Press

The Maine Legislature is looking once again at a proposed ban on the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.

The legislation is sponsored by Windham Sen. Bill Diamond, a Democrat and former secretary of state. He says there’s mounting evidence that the likelihood of having an accident increases if you are holding a cellphone to your ear or texting.

Diamond told the Legislature’s Transportation Committee that while some people would ignore the law, its passage would make highways safer.

South Portland is considering a proposal that seeks to clarify what the city’s responsibility is regarding immigration.

The amendment, proposed by District 3 councilman Eben Rose, would be applied to an anti-hate resolution passed by the council in February.

Rose is shying away from the term “sanctuary city,” and that language appears nowhere in the amended resolution. Rather, he says the amendment’s purpose is simple. A municipality, he says, should not have to take on the job of the federal government.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine  House has approved a bill aimed at reducing the number of single-use plastic shopping bags in the waste stream.

But the measure is a watered-down version of the original, which would have banned single-use plastic bags.  Nonetheless, Brunswick Rep. Ralph Tucker, a Democrat, says it’s an important step.

“This bill declares as a matter of state policy that we should try to use reusable bags to avoid getting the plastics into our waste stream.” 

Patty Wight / Maine Public

A man who has served nearly three decades in prison for a murder in Portland was granted bail Thursday due to new evidence that casts doubt on his guilt.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Students of theater, music, and art at the University of Southern Maine may share similar areas of creative interest, but they tend to focus on their own media. In the past few months, that’s changed.

Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

Maine’s ranked-choice voting law had its day in court Thursday.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments that could determine the fate of the citizen initiative passed by voters in November. The court’s views on the constitutionality of the law will likely influence legislators to either keep the first-in-the-nation system, ditch it altogether or try to amend the constitution.

Marcel Oosterwijk / Flickr/Creative Commons

Next week the Maine Ethics Commission will take up a proposal designed to put some distance between lobbyists on the one hand and elected legislators and state officials on the other.

The proposal stems from a complaint against a former Democratic legislator who was hired by the Maine AFL-CIO.

Maine Public political correspondent Steve Mistler explains the controversy, and more importantly the purpose of, what are often called revolving door laws.

Q: Can you explain what a revolving door is in state government?

Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, along with five other New England ACLU affiliates, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection over President Trump's Muslim travel bans.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Legislation that would provide criminal immunity for people calling 9-1-1 to report drug overdoses has support from civil liberties advocates in Maine. But some law enforcement officials say the bill goes too far. 

Supporters say a person who has drugs or paraphernalia in their possession might be reluctant to summon help for another person who has overdosed for fear that they might be arrested when police arrive.

Courtesy University of Maine at Augusta

BANGOR, Maine - After a little more than a year on the job, James Conneely, president of the University of Maine Augusta, is resigning.

"Chancellor Page - he has accepted that resignation," says University of Maine System spokesman Dan Demeritt.

Demeritt says he cannot comment further on the reasons behind Conneely's resignation, other than to say that Conneely stepped down for "professional" reasons.

STRIVE U

This month, seven young adults with developmental disabilities are opening their mailboxes and finding out that they’ve been accepted to STRIVE U, a first-of-its-kind postsecondary education and training program based in South Portland.

PORTLAND, Maine - Infant mortality is on the rise in Maine, according to the Maine Children's Alliance Annual Kids Count data released Monday. 

Executive Director Claire Berkowitz says from 2005 to 2015, the rate of infant deaths per thousand births rose from 5.6 to 6.7, "a troubling indicator that isn't just about the well-being of babies, but it's about the well-being of a community."

Berkowitz says the increased rate likely signals larger problems, such as lack of access to health care for women, as well as issues with education and poverty.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine sparked some national news stories Tuesday after her appearance on a Portland radio station in which she talked about the possibility of running for governor next year.

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