Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

State House Bureau Chief

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, and Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor's Energy Office, sit in front of  a sign representing the "$38 million and" omitted from the final draft of an energy bill that the Maine Legislature passed in 2013. Fredette met with the media Wednesday at the State House to share details of legislation he's proposing to address the problem.

Maine GOP proposes energy bill fix but ties it to expansion of governor’s authority

By Christopher Cousins on April 01, 2015, at 11:56 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement with Gov. Paul LePage to fix an energy bill that has become known as the case of the $38 million missing “and.” The agreement puts “and” back where legislators say it …

LePage vetoes begin again with three bills

on April 01, 2015, at 7:51 a.m.
Happy April Fool’s Day from Augusta. Everything you read in this edition of the Daily Brief will be 100 percent no foolin’, I promise.  As is typical in this near midpoint of the legislative session, legislative committees are hammering through bills. Here’s a sampling:  The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee …
Sen. Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport

GOP: Fixing $36 million typo in energy bill is not so simple

By Christopher Cousins on March 30, 2015, at 5:22 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Republican leaders said Monday that the case of the $36 million-a-year typo isn’t as simple as it seems, because current legislators might not agree with their predecessors who passed the original bill in 2013. “It isn’t as simple as just grabbing a bottle of Wite-Out and inserting …

DHHS: More than 500 parent-less Maine kids looking for ‘forever homes’

on March 30, 2015, at 11:01 a.m.
The Department of Health and Human Services put out the call Monday for more families to step forward to help children in need. Here are the sobering statistics: There are 1,990 children in foster care. Of those, 502 are seeking adoption. If you think about it, 500 kids out there wondering …

Daily Brief: Lawmakers try to force DEP do-over of done-over mining rules

on March 30, 2015, at 7:23 a.m.
Good morning, folks. Another busy day is on tap in Augusta with a long list of bills being introduced today and some poised to be sent on to the full Legislature.  Have you ever written a bad check? If you did, I hope it was an oversight. At any rate, …
"I've been in the Army for almost 30 years. I know how to follow orders. I'm not a stupid man. I don't do things without talking to my boss," said former Maine National Guard Adjutant Gen. James D. Campbell in an interview in Portland on Thursday. His boss, Gov. Paul LePage, fired him on Tuesday.

Fired Maine National Guard leader denies he misled LePage, says he offered to resign in 2014

By Christopher Cousins on March 26, 2015, at 4:13 p.m.
PORTLAND | “Confused” was the word that Brig. Gen. James Campbell kept saying Thursday morning during an hour-long interview with the Bangor Daily News. “I’m confused. I’m humbled. I’m embarrassed,” a visibly distraught Campbell said. “My military career is over. But I’m not interested in getting into a mudslinging …

Poliquin defends votes on austere GOP budget bills, touts constitutional amendment

on March 25, 2015, at 8:45 p.m.
Bruce Poliquin, Maine’s freshman 2nd District congressman, voted on the side of austerity Wednesday evening when he cast his support behind the so-called Price 1 and Price 2 budget bills. The votes spurred Democrats to call Poliquin a “one-term wonder” and a rubber stamp for GOP policies that would slash social …
Michael Willette

Sen. Willette gives up committee chairmanship after Facebook post controversy

By Christopher Cousins on March 25, 2015, at 10:16 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Republican Sen. Mike Willette of Presque Isle, who has been the subject of controversy caused by inflammatory Facebook posts he made about President Barack Obama, resigned Wednesday from his co-chairmanship of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee. Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland chapter of …

Daily Brief: Veterans returning to State House one day after National Guard chief’s firing

on March 25, 2015, at 7:31 a.m.
Good morning. Do you feel like you’re adequately represented in the Legislature? How far do you live from your state senator? If you live in one of the rural parts of the state, chances are your senator lives miles away but if you live in a city, she’s probably within …
Brig. Gen. James Campbell

LePage fires Maine National Guard chief James Campbell

By Christopher Cousins, Mario Moretto and Nok-Noi Ricker on March 24, 2015, at 11:16 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Maine National Guard Adjutant Gen. James D. Campbell, who was scheduled to address the House and Senate on Tuesday morning, was relieved of duty by Gov. Paul LePage shortly before the scheduled start time of the speech. “Based on an internal review of Gen. Campbell, I have …

Maine lawmaker stars in Washington Post column penned by publisher of The Nation

on March 24, 2015, at 10:12 a.m.
Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland showed up in the Washington Post this morning as the primary subject of a column by journalism titan Katrina vanden Heuvel. Russell, who is serving her fourth term in the House of Representatives, has carved out her own niche as a lawmaker who is willing to …

UPDATE: King continues attack on LePage, says ‘I will not run’ for governor

on March 23, 2015, at 7:58 p.m.
Earlier today, I reported here at State & Capitol that Joe Baldacci, a city councilor from Bangor, and Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, have launched attempts to recruit best-selling author and Bangor resident Stephen King to run for governor in 2018. This came after LePage implied in his weekly radio …
Rep. Victoria Kornfield, D-Bangor

Lawmakers want more money for schools, but differ on how much

By Christopher Cousins on March 23, 2015, at 6:31 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The Legislature’s Education Committee voted Monday to increase funding for public schools over the next two years above the level recommended by Gov. Paul LePage, though Republicans and Democrats on the committee disagreed about the amount. The votes constituted part of the committee’s recommendations on LePage’s $6.57 …

Stephen King for governor: Horror story or best seller?

on March 23, 2015, at 4:27 p.m.
Stephen King has been all over the news in the past week, not for his latest best-selling novel, but because of his stand against Gov. Paul LePage over inaccurate statements LePage made about King in the original version of his weekly radio address. Now there are a couple of well-known Mainers trying …
The "Give America a Raise" bus tour came to Bangor's West Market Square in a campaign attempt to increase minimum wage throughout the state in this March 2014 file photo. Democrats, labor advocates and their allies renewed the battle over increasing Maine’s minimum wage Monday at the State House.

Efforts to raise Maine minimum wage continue despite long odds

By Christopher Cousins on March 23, 2015, at 3:36 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Democrats, labor advocates and their allies renewed the battle over increasing Maine’s minimum wage of $7.50 per hour Monday at the State House despite little indication that their latest efforts have any chance in the current political landscape. The Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee …

Daily Brief: Blitz to raise minimum wage takes off today at the State House

on March 23, 2015, at 7:42 a.m.
Good morning and welcome to your Monday Daily Brief. It’s minimum wage day in Augusta and if you need a sound track, check out this old, 47-second, three-word (including “HEEYA!”) song from They Might Be Giants. Thanks to myself, I’ll be humming it all morning. Maybe you will too? Seriously, though, …
Nathan Beck (right) and his father, Dan Beck (center), listen during a Human Rights Commission hearing in Augusta in November 2014 regarding allegations that Moody's Diner, co-owned by Beck, discriminated against a longtime employee.

LePage continues to withhold funds in Moody’s Diner case

By Christopher Cousins on March 20, 2015, at 2:09 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage continues to withhold a financial order that would allow the Maine Human Rights Commission to move $4,000 of its own revenues from one account to another. LePage refused to authorize the commission’s request in an effort to compel the five-member panel to reopen a …
Michael Willette

Maine Senate president rebuffs call by NAACP, Democrats for ethics probe of senator’s anti-Obama posts

By Christopher Cousins on March 20, 2015, at 11:28 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Calls for disciplinary action against Republican Sen. Mike Willette of Presque Isle continued Friday with Senate Democrats and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calling for an ethics probe. “This is not easy,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland Chapter of the …

Daily Brief: NAACP continuing call for discipline of Sen. Willette over Obama remarks

on March 20, 2015, at 7:19 a.m.
Good morning from Augusta, where the Legislature is capping off a busy week with a smattering of committee activity today. The House and Senate are not in session again until Tuesday. The saga of Republican Sen. Mike Willette of Presque Isle and his history of inflammatory Facebook posts continues today …

LePage corrects radio address after pushback from Stephen King

on March 19, 2015, at 2:46 p.m.
Paul LePage vs. Stephen King. It’s an irresistible confrontation, right? Judging by all the attention it’s gotten today, I’d say so. It should come as no surprise that Maine’s most famous resident (I’m talking about King here) garners a lot of attention. Everything he writes is a best-seller. Especially when …
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