Good morning from Augusta.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It was so disorganized last week, and it was very stressful and I was frustrated,” said Kylie Temple, a University of Maine junior who was among the 700 people whose coronavirus test samples were wasted last week due to a technical error. “This one felt much easier to go through. It felt a lot smoother.” Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
A second impeachment trial in a span of just a year awaits Maine’s senators today. The trial of former President Donald Trump over charges he incited the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol is set to resume, with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on the relatively short list of Republicans who have not openly come out opposing a conviction.
Collins and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, have indicated they are open to convicting the former president, with King praising the House’s impeachment while saying he would wait for facts at a trial. Collins has been more coy, saying her role as a juror should preclude her from commenting, though she has been highly critical of Trump’s actions around the Capitol riot, saying in a Bangor Daily News OpEd that he “incited” the rioters in the first place — the same language used in the House’s article of impeachment.
That gives Mainers something to watch for even though the outcome has a sense of inevitability after 45 Republican senators, not including Collins, voted to dismiss the trial outright two weeks ago. A Washington Post tracker finds 37 Republicans senators have already said they will vote to acquit the former president, leaving the chamber with no viable path to the 67 votes required to convict. One wrinkle is a Collins-led effort to censure Trump that has not gained steam so far.
Debate this afternoon is likely to be centered around whether it is constitutional to convict a president who is no longer in office on impeachment charges. That debate can last up to four hours, with only a simple majority needed to move forward with the trial. The House managers and the president’s defense team will then present their cases beginning Wednesday.
The two sides will likely be talking past each other, as Democrats are expected to focus arguments around the events of Jan. 6, citing the former president’s words at a rally hours before the riot and criminal complaints against rioters who claim they came to the Capitol at the president’s behest. Trump’s lawyers are poised to argue that the charges are unconstitutional.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine energy regulator will investigate CMP’s problems connecting solar projects to grid,” Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News: “The move comes after CMP told solar project developers last week that they might need to pay more to connect to the grid, which could delay projects. [Gov. Janet] Mills told [Public Utilities Comssion Chair Phil] Bartlett that she read with dismay reports that more than 100 CMP substations may require costly and unexpected modifications to interconnect hundreds of megawatts of new solar projects across the state.”
— “Nursing homes are seeing fewer COVID-19 outbreaks as Maine cases decline,” David Marino Jr., BDN: “As of Feb. 4, the state had seen 121 COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities, with 52 of them considered active, according to the Maine CDC. Ninety-two of those outbreaks have begun since the start of November, when the state’s current surge of COVID-19 cases began.”
The Bangor Daily News is looking to talk to health care workers about the pandemic. The workforce has been essential to fighting the pandemic. Let us know how you are surviving, nearly one year later since the coronavirus reached Maine.
— “Angus King says stimulus checks unlikely to reach Americans before April,” Mal Leary, Maine Public: “King said while the budget reconciliation process Democrats are using will allow final passage of the measure with a simple majority in the House and Senate, a lot of work needs to be done to finalize language.”
‘Forever chemical’ standards to be debated today
Dueling arguments on new limits will be aired before a legislative panel on Tuesday. A pair of proposals that would put limits on PFAS chemicals that are commonly found in sewage sludge used on farms in Maine and across the country and are linked to health problems including cancer and kidney failure. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down and they have been found in water supplies across Maine.
A task force convened by Gov. Janet Mills to examine the problem recommended adhering to federal limits in drinking water in a report last year, but advocates have argued for a stricter standard put into place by neighboring states. They support a bill from Rep. Ralph Tucker, D-Brunswick, which would set a stricter limit, that will be the subject of a hearing alongside a rival proposal on the subject before the health committee at 10 a.m. Listen here.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jessica Piper, Caitlin Andrews and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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