April 02, 2020
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Maine will release roadmaps for road funding and state-tribal relations today

Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican & News
Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican & News
Construction crews with the Maine Department of Transportation work on reconstructing the storm drains on High Street as flaggers guide traffic at the road's Main Street intersection in this 2019 file photo.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I ended up going back to school and finishing because of her,” said Danielle Matthews, a friend of Anielka Allen of Newport, who police say was killed by her husband last week. “She always wanted to take care of everyone else. She had the biggest heart.”

What we’re watching today

Maine will release a three-year roadmap for road and bridge funding with fewer projects on the schedule due to an underfunded system. The Maine Department of Transportation released its updated three-year work plan — a routine occurrence setting the schedule for projects — on early Tuesday. The headline will be that it plans to fund 142 fewer projects through 2022 as an influx of one-time money gives it $150 million more than it had the last three years.

The problems are an underfunded system reliant on annual borrowing and running a $232 million shortfall that is the subject of legislative negotiations and rising construction costs that led the state to cancel tens of millions in projects last year. Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note will roll out the three-year plan with a news conference on Tuesday in Augusta. He’s expected to press for a long-term funding solution.

A task force on state-tribal relations will present its work for the first time to the public today. The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee is set for a lengthy presentation today, as the task force will debut its final report on changes they recommend be made to the 1980 settlement that has caused tension between the state and its indigenous tribes for decades.

You can expect to hear about proposals to restore federal fishing, legal and gambling rights to the tribes — the latter of which is sure to face heavy opposition. There’s sure to be questions, too, about how to keep all of the changes in one bill, which is what the task force wants.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Collins, King offer varying degrees of confidence in US evidence leading to Soleimani killing,Jessica Piper, BDN: “Republican Susan Collins and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, both serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee and have been briefed on the killing. But while a few members of Congress have been outspoken about the briefings they have received, the pair have remained relatively tight-lipped on the matter.”

Now it’s “imminent” but “doesn’t matter”: In a tweet on Monday night, President Donald Trump said a terrorist attack was imminent prior to the killing of the Iranian general but it “doesn’t really matter” because of Qassem Soleimani’s “horrible past.”

— “See how Maine subsidized Bath Iron Works over 20 years,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The company has received more subsidies than any other company in Maine since at least 1995, beating out runner-up Texas Instruments by $76.6 million.”

— “Hydro-Quebec could face fine for late disclosure of efforts to sway Maine voters on CMP project,” Steve Mistler, Maine Public: “A ballot question committee representing the Canadian energy company Hydro-Quebec could face a significant fine from state election regulators for the late disclosure of campaign activity. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker is trying to stop the company’s efforts to convince Maine voters to approve a controversial $1 billion transmission project at the ballot box in November.”

Collins won’t vote to immediately dismiss Trump’s impeachment

Maine’s senior senator told reporters in Washington on Monday that she would vote against hasty bids to dismiss Trump’s impeachment charges. Collins and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told Politico on Monday that they would vote against immediate motions to dismiss Trump’s impeachment charges in a Senate trial as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks to thread the needle on trial rules between conservative and more moderate Republicans. Collins told us last Friday that she was working with a “small group of GOP senators” to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial. Other Republican senators who have come forward to express a similar goal include Romney and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Here’s your soundtrack.

Maine lawmakers could press Congress to ease marijuana banking rules

A resolution to make banking easier for marijuana businesses is floating in the state Legislature. Rep. John Andrews, R-Paris, introduced a resolution asking Congress to permit marijuana businesses to use banking and insurance services that could be voted on in the Maine House of Representatives today. The U.S. House approved legislation making it easier for cannabis businesses to use banks in September, with Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Jared Golden of the 2nd District voting in favor. King sent a letter in November in support of its passage.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email clumm@bangordailynews.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.


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