Good morning from Augusta. Our friends at CBS affiliate CBS 13 say to expect 2 to 5 inches of snow today, which will make commutes a bit messy but wasn’t enough to cancel state business.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Consider the cumulative impacts,” Ron Huber, an opponent of a proposed land-based salmon farm, said at a recent state permitting hearing in Belfast. “Look at this from the fish’s point of view, not the developer-wannabe’s point of view.”
What we’re watching today
Maine’s senior senator said the president was “angered” by impeachment while expressing unease about efforts investigating a whistleblower and intervene with a criminal case. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, continues to be closely watched in the aftermath of the president’s impeachment trial. Collins has repeatedly stated that her vote to acquit President Donald Trump was based on the evidence presented in the trial, rather than consideration of what he might do later. Her spokeswoman was explaining that Wednesday.
Since his acquittal last week, Trump has removed two witnesses who testified against him from their government posts. Then he publicly lamented federal prosecutors’ recommendation of a nine-year prison sentence for his one-time adviser Roger Stone, leading Justice Department officials to recommend a shorter sentence.
Collins told USA Today that she thought Trump shouldn’t have gotten involved in Stone’s sentencing. She denied in an interview with the Bangor Daily News that the president was “emboldened” by his acquittal, as some Democrats — and Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent — have suggested. Collins also said she was uneasy about signals from Senate Republicans who want to investigate the Ukraine whistleblower.
These explanations have spurred Democrats running against Collins in a targeted 2020 campaign to ramp up criticism, with House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, saying Trump learned Republicans won’t “hold him accountable.” Progressive lobbyist Betsy Sweet called the Justice Department a “trusted clean-up crew” for the president.
The Maine politics top 3
— “How a new commission could curb Maine’s health care costs,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “These types of boards can force hospitals to use revenue targets for public good, while others do little more than pressure health care systems to charge less.”
It’s part of a push from top Democrats to address health care costs. One expert said a proposed insulin cap wouldn’t help everyone who needs it. The proposal was unveiled alongside three other measures backed by Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. A Gideon-backed bill would cap insulin copays at $100 a month and is similar to several others being introduced around the country. While Alison Bailey, advocacy manager for the diabetes advocacy group T1International, said any effort to reduce costs is good, she said Gideon’s bill covers a small population and not those most at risk for insulin rationing — like the uninsured.
— “Nurse and security guard allegedly struck Portland hospital patients who had become violent,” Charles Eichacker, BDN: “A federal agency has found that [Maine Medical Center] failed to protect patients from physical abuse on two occasions last summer in which a security guard and a nurse each allegedly struck patients who were acting violently.”
— “Warren campaign shifts money to Maine after disappointing New Hampshire finish,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “Maine is one of the states to which Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is shifting resources as she seeks to revive her presidential campaign after a distant fourth-place finish in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.”
A long shot hopeful who pinned her hopes on New Hampshire to little avail will do weekend town halls in Maine. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, the non-interventionist Democratic candidate who has warred with party establishment figures, rented a house in New Hampshire and only earned 3.3 percent of votes in Tuesday’s primary. Nonetheless, her campaign will trek into Maine for town halls Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Portland and Sunday at a Hallowell conference center. Here’s your soundtrack.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.