Maine Public

A coalition of environmentalists and power generators is calling for the creation of a regional cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions from the transportation sector. They’re modeling the market on a successful effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.

Maine's largest hunger relief organization will be able to provide about 10 million more meals a year in the state, thanks to a $1 million grant that will help pay for major improvements to its distribution center in Hampden.

Good Shepherd Food Bank works with local organizations to get food from Hampden, to communities all around the state.

Public Affairs Director Clara Whitney says the money will help pay for a renovation which will, among other things, create a lot more cold storage space for nourishing fresh foods.

The latest government statistics on unemployment in Maine's urban areas show three very tight labor markets.

In Bangor, joblessness fell from 3.3 percent in August to 3.1 percent in September.

Lewiston-Auburn went from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent.

Portland-South Portland's jobless rate was steady, but at a very low, 2.5 percent.

The unemployment rate in September for Maine as a whole was 3.7 percent, lower than the national rate of 4.2 percent.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage and other state political figures have been targets of Russian-backed disinformation campaigns. That’s according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who revealed the findings at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington.

Collins says Russian Facebook pages were used in an effort to spread discord during the 2016 elections, and continues today. She quoted from posts on a known Russian Facebook page that was critical of LePage.

We're now less than a week away from Election Day.  There are four items on Maine's statewide ballot.  Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talks about three of them with University of Maine at Farmington Political Science Professor Jim Melcher.

GRATZ: Statewide, folks are going to face four questions: The first one is another casino vote. Now, the opposition this time is less focused on gambling per se than on who would get to develop this casino.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to head to Washington, D.C., again Thursday, this time to testify on a bill sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District that’s designed to strengthen working waterfronts.

It’s not clear what LePage has to say about the proposal, which is co-sponsored by Virginia Republican Rob Wittman. However, the governor appears on a witness list published by the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

Portland-based Mercy Hospital has agreed to pay just over $1.5 million to settle allegations that it overbilled Medicare and MaineCare for urinalysis drug screening tests from 2011 through 2013.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lizotte says the tests were ordered and performed at the now-closed Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook.

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

Utility crews continue to make progress getting power lines up and running in cities and towns across Maine.

Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act's online health insurance marketplace.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Maine’s two largest utilities say they’re doing everything they can to safely and quickly restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers still in the dark. During a press briefing Tuesday morning, they said they expect to make significant progress in the next day or two, but it could be Saturday before the work is close to being complete.

This story was originally published at 3:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

One of the questions on next Tuesday’s statewide ballot asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment to change the debt repayment schedule in the retirement system for state workers and public-school teachers.

It hasn’t garnered much attention, even though payments to the system totaled $320 million last year — more than the total budget for the courts and the Legislature combined. Supporters of the proposed change say it will bring more stability to the system.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

The Maine Ethics Commission has delayed by a few days a decision on whether to penalize the campaign behind a casino proposed for York County.  The commission is investigating whether the campaign hid the source of over $4 million in funding for more than a year.

Progress for Maine

This story was originally published at 3:35 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

While ethics officials in Augusta delved into the murky finances behind the campaign to permit a casino in York County on Tuesday, its lead supporter, developer Shawn Scott, was in Portland to announce he’d done a deal with organized labor for its construction.

But there’s still no guarantee that if voters support the measure, Scott would actually build the resort he is promising.

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law legislation addressing federal objections to Maine’s food sovereignty law passed earlier this year.

Without the changes to address food safety, federal officials would have taken over the state’s food inspections of meat and poultry, and several slaughterhouses would have been put out of business.

The original bill allowed cities and towns to regulate the production, processing and direct sales of food to consumers, which have been regulated by the state and federal governments.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Trick or treaters in several Maine communities will have to wait till the weekend to fill their candy bags. With hundreds of thousands still without power, officials from Brunswick to Bangor are asking residents to postpone Halloween festivities that send kids knocking door to door.

Bangor police Community Relations Officer Daniel Gastia says it’s a safety issue.