State House News

Terry Hayes discusses a bill with Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls in 2013.

New state treasurer wants voters to know where the money goes

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 25, 2015, at 4:25 p.m.
AUGUSTA — If you get any kind of check from state government, you are going to see Terry Hayes’ signature on it — at least for the next two years. Hayes, an independent who was recently elected state treasurer, said that’s one of the weirdest things about her new job. …

LePage sets special election for Rockland-area House seat

By Stephen Betts on Jan. 23, 2015, at 4:07 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A special election has been called for Tuesday, March 10, to fill the vacancy created when Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson of Rockland announced she was resigning. Dickerson’s letter was received Thursday by the Maine secretary of state’s office after being sent to the speaker of the Maine …
From the community

Maine Republican Party seeks college student interns

on Jan. 23, 2015, at 2:25 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage has announced that the party is looking for motivated college students for its 2015 Winter Internship program.In 2014, more than 35 individuals interned for the party, which is the largest in the state party’s history. The Maine GOP looks to build upon …
Gov. Paul LePage

LePage sheds light on plan to strip Legislature of power to elect attorney general, treasurer

By Mario Moretto on Jan. 23, 2015, at 11:29 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage will propose a constitutional amendment to take the power to appoint the attorney general and state treasurer away from the Legislature and give that authority to either the governor or voters. LePage said Friday he would submit his proposal to the Legislature sometime after …
Eric Brakey

Get out of jail free? Auburn senator says low-profile suspects should pay no bail

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 23, 2015, at 6:15 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Eliminating cash bail would dramatically reduce the number of inmates in Maine jails and dramatically lower taxpayer costs, according to state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn. Brakey said Thursday he intends to introduce legislation that would do away with bail in Maine and replace it with a system …

Rockland, Owls Head ask state to hold special election for House vacancy

By Stephen Betts on Jan. 21, 2015, at 8:45 p.m.
The Rockland City Council and Owls Head Board of Selectmen have asked the state to hold a special election to fill the vacancy created when Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson of Rockland announced she was resigning. But the state has yet to received a signed resignation letter from …
Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speaks at a Pratt and Whitney employee appreciation event in North Berwick on Aug. 9, 2013.

Maine House speaker kicks off ‘jobs tour’ with plan to spend $5 million on job training

By Christopher Cousins on Jan. 21, 2015, at 11:26 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves on Wednesday proposed spending $5 million over the next five years to create public-private training partnerships across Maine. The initiative is part of a prolonged project in the Legislature to create new, high-paying jobs through training initiatives that route students from higher-education …
The Cumberland County Jail as seen on March 10, 2014.

Many of state’s county jails out of money, public safety could be at risk

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 20, 2015, at 8:02 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The outgoing executive director of the state Board of Corrections, Ryan Thornell, confirmed for lawmakers Tuesday that Maine’s county jails are face critical funding shortfalls, a situation that puts public safety at risk. The statewide jail system’s budget is $80.4 million per year. Thornell and Sagadahoc County …

How much money Maine jails need

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 20, 2015, at 8:01 p.m.
The money necessary to keep jails operating through June 30 Androscoggin County Jail: $151,000 Aroostook County Jail: $782,000 Cumberland County Jail: $596,000 Penobscot County Jail: $563,000 York County Jail: $396,000 Source: Maine Board of Corrections  
Walter Whitcomb

Maine agriculture commissioner explains LePage administration’s call to cut forest ranger jobs

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 20, 2015, at 6:43 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb on Tuesday shared new details about a plan from Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to restructure the Maine Forest Service, including the elimination of about 12 to 13 forest ranger positions. Whitcomb told a joint meeting of the Legislature’s budget writing Appropriations and Agriculture …
A concentrate derived from marijuana referred to as honey oil is shown.

Bill to limit drivers’ THC levels concerns Maine medical marijuana growers

By Nok-Noi Ricker on Jan. 19, 2015, at 9:29 p.m.
BANGOR | There are at least 15 bills before state legislators in Augusta regarding medical marijuana, including one that would tax and regulate the medicinal herb in the same way alcohol is handled in Maine. “Some are good and some are not so good,” Roxanne Munksgaard, a downtown gallery …
Eric Brakey

Freshman state senator submits bill to allow medical marijuana in hospitals

By Staff Report, Sun Journal on Jan. 19, 2015, at 8:16 a.m.
AUGUSTA | State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, is sponsoring legislation that would allow medical marijuana patients legal access to their prescriptions in a hospital. Brakey’s bill, LD 35: An Act To Allow a Qualifying Patient To Use Medical Marijuana in a Hospital, is a response to federal licensing laws …
Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham

Democratic senator proposes restoring death penalty in Maine

By Christopher Cousins on Jan. 18, 2015, at 5:41 a.m.
AUGUSTA | A veteran lawmaker who has been on a years-long crusade against the sexual exploitation of children is proposing to bring the death penalty to Maine for people convicted of killing children victimized in pornographic snuff films. Snuff films are illegal movies that end in the subjects’ actual …
Philip Retberg (right) and his son Benjamin, 13, milk their cows at Quill's End Farm in Penobscot on Friday evening.  The cows produce about 20 gallons of milk each daily, which the Retbergs sell through a milk buying club.

Maine food activists say they’re optimistic despite legal, legislative defeats

By Mario Moretto on Jan. 16, 2015, at 7:15 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Despite being rebuked by lawmakers, the governor and the state’s Supreme Court, advocates for more local control over food policies are gearing up to bring their fight to Augusta once again. “It has not taken the wind out of our sails,” said Heather Retberg, owner of Quill’s …
Maine Forest Rangers, shown in November 2014, monitor the taking of evergreen boughs, which requires written landowner permission.

Away with the rangers? After weapon bill veto, LePage plans forest service overhaul

By John Holyoke on Jan. 16, 2015, at 3:56 p.m.
Eight months after vetoing a bill that would have armed Maine forest rangers, Gov. Paul LePage, in his budget proposal, is seeking to overhaul the Maine Forest Service by creating a new class of natural resources law enforcement officers under the Bureau of Forestry and removing the police powers of …
Gov. Paul LePage explains his biennial budget proposal to reporters on Friday, January 9, 2015, at the State House in Augusta.

LePage’s tax reform plan is a game-changer — that’s why no one is talking about it

By Mario Moretto on Jan. 13, 2015, at 6:18 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Despite its far-reaching implications, lawmakers’ reactions to Gov. Paul LePage’s ambitious tax reform package continue to remain mute. As part of his two-year, $6.3 billion budget, LePage is proposing a reduction in the state’s individual and corporate income taxes and the elimination of the estate tax. At …
John Fitzsimmons

LePage: Trustees will ‘feel the wrath’ if community college president not ousted

By Mario Moretto on Jan. 12, 2015, at 7:10 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage on Monday reiterated his call for the resignation of Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons, saying the system’s trustees would “feel the wrath” if they didn’t take steps to ensure Fitzsimmons’ nearly 25-year tenure came to an end. Speaking with reporters Monday after …
Laurie Lachance

Maine college officials question LePage plan to allow communities to tax large nonprofits

By Beth Brogan on Jan. 12, 2015, at 6:01 p.m.
BRUNSWICK, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to allow communities to make up for the elimination of state revenue sharing in the second year of his biennial budget by taxing large nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, colleges and private schools would place an “undue economic burden” on students, force changes …
Gov. Paul LePage explains his biennial budget proposal to reporters on Friday at the State House in Augusta.

LePage’s willingness to broaden sales tax base surprises some lawmakers

By Christopher Cousins on Jan. 09, 2015, at 7:23 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The word of the day in the State House on Friday was “bold” as Gov. Paul LePage presented a biennial budget bill that surprised Democrats for its compassion and appeared to create concern among Republicans because of a range of tax increases it proposes. In the immediate …
Rep. Peggy Rotundo, House Chair of the Appropriations Committee

Skeptical Democrats in Legislature await details of LePage plan to cut income tax

By Scott Thistle on Jan. 09, 2015, at 8:56 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Legislative Democrats were hesitant Thursday to embrace a proposal to eliminate Maine’s income tax, which could be a key pillar in the next budget proposal from Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage’s next two-year budget is due to lawmakers Friday. On Wednesday, the governor was clear that the …
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