In this March 2, 2021, file photo, a pharmacy technician loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Good morning from Augusta. There are six days until the Legislature meets again.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He sat down with the crew and he said, ‘I want you to bring the ruckus,’” said Todd Bross, now the owner of the soon-to-open Ruckus Donuts in Rockland, remembering what his boss said to him after he had to take over baking at a prior cafe when his boss broke his arm. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

Maine hit a new COVID-19 vaccine milestone yesterday, but that hasn’t slowed high hospitalization rates as the state continues to edge toward reopening. The number of patients hospitalized here has been mostly flat for the past week after steadily rising for the past month, but the seven-day average is up nearly 70 percent compared with a month ago.

Health officials say the rise has been relatively evenly distributed across the state and has reflected more younger Mainers, many of whom are arriving at the hospital sicker and have longer hospital stays. The state has not seen a similar rise in deaths among young people.

That is all while vaccinations clip along in Maine: It is one of six states where at least 70 percent of its adult population has received its first dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including those who got the one-shot Johnson & Johnson option. That number is close to what experts think could be considered herd immunity when everyone is fully vaccinated, but virus variants and hesitancy may keep such a status elusive for now.

The vaccine scene is much more flexible than it was even a month ago: Walk-in appointments are relatively common and supply no longer seems to be a concern. Large sites and some rural locations are winding down, but the state’s mobile vaccination clinic is continuing its work through the summer, with the goal of reaching areas where vaccines may be harder to find. 

The Maine politics top 3

— “Janet Mills’ adjusted $8.8B budget offer would hit Maine’s K-12 funding goal for 1st time,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Education spending is the hallmark of Mills’ package, with the key element being $187 million more for the public education system. That would bring Maine’s share of public school spending to 55 percent, finally fulfilling a 2004 voter referendum. That is buttressed with $47 million to Maine’s higher education institutions and $50 million for a school repairs fund.”

Details beyond initial numbers are still scarce. The budget proposal incorporates some Democratic bills, but the state has not released an itemized breakdown or the language of the bill itself. That is expected before Friday. The finer details are sure to concern the Legislature’s budget committee, which will be discussing the budget at 10 a.m. today and 1 p.m. Thursday.

— “Maine police chief created a false report to get out of meeting,” Callie Ferguson, BDN: “The Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s board of trustees, which certifies and decertifies Maine police and corrections officers, voted in February to revoke Joshua Potvin’s license after finding that he falsified a public record. The details of the academy’s investigation became public this month when Potvin waived his right to an appeal.”

— “Maine’s gas supply stable amid panic-buying in Southeast US,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Maine’s fuel comes through a pipeline running from Montreal to South Portland and in tanker ships from various European countries, said [Charlie Summers, president of the 300-member Maine Energy Marketers Association in Brunswick]. South Portland also has a farm of fuel tanks.”

GOP tests prescription drug message against Golden

Republicans are dumping early money into the 2nd Congressional District as they try again to flip it. The latest group targeting U.S. Rep. Jared Golden with a six-figure ad buy is the American Action Network, a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit. The TV ad, which was targeted at Democrats across the country, invokes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California. 

It calls on Golden to oppose a bill to put price controls on prescription drugs, echoing a message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the measure would push drug manufacturing to China. Golden backed a version of the bill in 2019. The bill is opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which argues other countries’ prices are unfairly low, although the principal ideas behind it have attracted some bipartisan support in the past, including from progressive Democrats and former President Donald Trump.

The second-term Maine representative is expected to be a top Republican target again in 2022, though it’s not yet clear who the party will run to oppose him. The only Republican to publicly express interest so far is state Rep. Mike Perkins, R-Oakland.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper 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.

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.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...