Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage is hoping to gain support for his budget proposals related to fighting the rampant substance abuse that plagues many Maine communities.
The governor has asked reporters and TV crews to meet with him in the Cabinet room to stump for the plan, which includes funding to invigorate the prosecution of drug dealers and drastic cuts to state funding for methadone clinics. (LePage favors the drug suboxone for addicts, though medical professionals say both drugs should be accessible to patients.)
LePage has been criticized by Democrats and some public health experts for his laser-focus on the supply side of the drug abuse equation. LePage sees the drug problem as essentially a criminal problem. Getting dealers off the streets and into jails has been his main focus. Critics have called on him to expand efforts and outreach to fight addiction, thereby decreasing the demand for drugs.
It’s rare for the governor to invite reporters in for a chat, so LePage must see ground to be gained in the ongoing debate over how best to tackle the drugs issue. He’ll be joined at the press conference by Public Safety Commissioner John Morris and Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau.
Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee will take up critical questions of privacy when it hears public testimony on two bills that seek to limit the use of drones on private property.
One bill, by Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, is focused on the use of drones by law enforcement agencies. It creates an entire regulatory framework for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by police, and establishes a private right to sue any law enforcement agency that would break the rules established by the law, which include not using drones to gather evidence except with permission by the property owner who is being monitored or with a warrant.
Russell’s bill is similar to one enacted by the Legislature in 2013. However, LePage vetoed that bill and Republicans in the Senate sustained his veto.
The other bill, by Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, is much simpler, and already has more support by lawmakers. It would make operating a drone over someone else’s property without their permission a civil offense punishable by a minimum fine of $500. — Mario Moretto
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Poliquin joins King, Collins to oppose elimination of paper Rx inserts
Three-quarters of Maine’s congressional delegation are joining forces to fight a proposed change to Food and Drug Administration policy that would allow pharmaceutical companies to eliminate paper prescription information in favor of electronic ones.
Republicans Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Sen. Susan Collins, along with independent Sen. Angus King, sent a letter to the FDA Monday urging the agency to withdraw the rule.
“We wish to respectfully reiterate our concern that this rule would have an adverse effect on patient safety,” they wrote. “This would be acutely felt by rural Americans who live in areas with limited Internet access. It would also affect patients and health care providers when electronic technologies are unavailable, including during a power outage or in the wake of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. We hope the FDA will agree to withdraw this proposed rule.”
Here’s a sentence we haven’t written much: Poliquin is following in the footsteps of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, his Democratic predecessor. Michaud had joined King and Collins in fighting the plan back in 2013.
Patient safety concerns aside, the rule change is also a concern to the papermaking industry. While Maine’s paper industry is in decline, the state still plays host to several mills, including one that produces the paper on which prescription drug inserts is printed. — Mario Moretto.
- Efforts to raise minimum wage continue in Maine, despite long odds — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
- Democrats seek twice as much new education funding as Republicans — Christopher Cousins, BDN.
- Maine human rights panel denies LePage plea to re-open Moody’s Diner religious discrimination case — Mario Moretto, BDN.
- Feds to investigate alleged ‘unfair’ Canadian paper subsidies — Darren Fishell, BDN.
- Ted Cruz enlists Christians for 2016 White House bid — Gary Robertson, Reuters.
- Stephen King will continue hammering LePage, but won’t run for governor — Chris Cousins, BDN.
Pretty much every fake president is more popular than Obama
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll which indicated that about 46 percent of American hold a favorable view of President Barack Obama. That’s low, but not unprecedentedly bad.
Reuters/Ipsos had the brilliant idea of asking respondents to imagine various fictional presidents were in the Oval Office. How would we feel about them? As it turns out, we’d like them all better — even the murderers and the drunks.
Here’s a list of fake presidents who polled better than Obama:
- David Palmer, of “24.”
- Jed Bartlet of “The West Wing.”
- Fitzgerald Grant of “Scandal.”
- Frank Underwood of “House of Cards.”
- … and my personal favorite, Laura Roslin from “Battlestar Galactica.”
An important caveat, from the Reuters story on the poll:
With Americans sharply divided along partisan lines, it is unlikely that any real-life president could achieve sky-high favorability ratings, said Tevi Troy, a presidential historian and author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted,” a study of popular culture in the White House.
“Pretty much half the country is going to be predisposed against you just because that’s the way we line up with Republicans and Democrats,” Troy said.
That said, I urge all of you to read into this whatever you will. — Mario Moretto.