State House News

An aerial view of First Wind's 60 megawatt, 200 wind turbine Rollins Wind project, 8 miles east of Lincoln, as seen March 18, 2012.

Maine wind energy advocates unveil study touting industry’s benefits

By Scott Thistle on May 05, 2015, at 2:49 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Proponents of Maine’s wind-power industry Tuesday touted a new study that reportedly shows positive impacts on health and the environment from the industry’s growth in the Pine Tree State. “This study confirms what we have long known, but have never seen quantified in this level of detail,” …
Brig. Gen. Gerard Bolduc, interim adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

LePage convenes search committee for new Maine National Guard chief

By Mario Moretto on May 05, 2015, at 12:46 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage has convened a panel of 11 retired and current members of the armed services to seek out a new adjutant general of the Maine National Guard. The search committee, which includes LePage’s public safety commissioner, John Morris, and former chief legal counsel, Michael Cianchette, …
Voters stand behind familiar striped curtains at Portland's district 2-2 polling station at the Expo on Nov. 4, 2014.

House Democrats reject photo ID mandate for Maine voters

By Christopher Cousins on May 05, 2015, at 12:30 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The prospect of requiring voters in Maine to show photo identification before receiving a ballot suffered what could be a fatal blow Tuesday when Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against it. LD 197, which failed in a 82-66 vote Monday, is similar to several attempts …
Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham.

House upholds veto of bill that would have helped smokers buy health insurance

By Christopher Cousins on May 05, 2015, at 11:20 a.m.
AUGUSTA | The House of Representatives on Tuesday upheld Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have helped cigarette smokers better afford health insurance. LD 135, sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, would have reduced from 50 percent to 20 percent the surcharges charged by small group …
Gov. Paul LePage speaks at an open house for Maine Connections Academy, the state's first virtual charter school, on Sept. 18, 2014, in South Portland.

Proposal to change Maine charter school funding advances

By Christopher Cousins on May 04, 2015, at 4:48 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The Legislature’s budget-writing committee on Monday gave preliminary approval to a change in the way Maine’s public charter schools are funded. The measure, backed by the Education Committee in February, won unanimous approval Monday from the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Monday. The new funding mechanism is designed …
Sen. Roger Katz

Mainers among statehouse GOP nationwide pushing for campaign disclosure

By Jeanne Cummings, Bloomberg on May 04, 2015, at 12:46 p.m.
While Republicans in Congress continue to smother proposals for campaign finance transparency, statehouse Republicans from Maine to Montana are moving in the opposite direction. Some Republican state legislators are pushing back against the free-spending super-PACs and secretive independent groups that have been transforming U.S. politics into a proxy war among …
"“If this passes, I’'m certain a tragedy will occur,"” said Larry Gilbert, (left), a former Lewiston mayor and police chief, as he joined police chiefs from several of Maine’s largest cities on April 8 at a press conference in Portland denouncing a proposal to scrap the state’'s concealed-carry gun permitting process.

Bill to remove permit mandate to carry concealed guns in Maine suffers setback

By Scott Thistle on May 01, 2015, at 3:58 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A bill that would allow Mainers older than 18 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit was rejected by the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Friday. The bill, LD 652, gained the support of three Republicans while all seven Democrats on the panel …
The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency works July 10, 2014, to dismantle a suspected methamphetamine lab at 233 Clark Road in Merrill.

Maine lawmakers consider lighter penalties for heroin, harsher punishment for meth labs

By Christopher Cousins on May 01, 2015, at 3:22 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Whether possession of certain illegal drugs should result in a lifetime criminal record is under consideration by lawmakers in Augusta who are grappling with competing proposals to strengthen and weaken drug laws. At the core of the debate are the lasting legal effects of a felony drug …
Gabor Kovacs of 'smoke no smoke' puffs on an e-cigarette that his shop sells at Camden in London June 9, 2013.

Despite GOP opposition, Maine bill to limit ‘vaping’ like smoking advances

By Scott Thistle on May 01, 2015, at 2:50 p.m.
AUGUSTA | An effort to place the same restrictions on e-cigarettes that exist for tobacco cigarettes in Maine cleared the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on a 6-5, party-line vote Friday. With Democrats supporting the bill, LD 1108, and Republicans opposing it, the measure’s prospects of winning passage …
The State House in Augusta stands lighted against the night sky.

Maine House backs stronger state workers’ ethics code opposed by LePage

By Scott Thistle on April 30, 2015, at 1:23 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A bill that aims to ensure all state employees follow the same set of ethical standards was approved with little debate and broad bipartisan support in the Maine House of Representatives on a 134-13 vote Thursday. The bill, LD 6, is the result of a document-shredding scandal …
Maine Superior Court Justice Thomas Humphrey

LePage nominates Humphrey to replace Silver on Maine’s top court

By Christopher Cousins on April 29, 2015, at 3:16 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage has nominated the Hon. Thomas Humphrey to replace retired Justice Warren Max Silver on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Humphrey has led a distinguished career through the Maine judicial system, serving for the past years as chief justice of the Superior Court, based in …
Laid-off workers from the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway receive unemployment counseling at the Penquis building in Dover-Foxcroft on July 24, 2013.

Audits show Maine largely ignored work search requirement for jobless benefits

By Dave Sherwood, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting on April 29, 2015, at 11:30 a.m.
AUGUSTA | As many as one in three Mainers on unemployment may not be eligible for benefits — yet the state has been cutting them a weekly check anyway. Four successive audits by the state auditor, including one released earlier this month, have warned that the Department of Labor …
Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta.

LePage’s use of bonds as bargaining chips spurs GOP infighting

By Mario Moretto on April 28, 2015, at 4:22 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A state senator known as a moderate on Tuesday called out Gov. Paul LePage for the “artificially created crisis” about voter-approved conservation bonds worth more than $11 million. LePage has refused to issue the bonds, jeopardizing more than 30 land preservation projects already approved by Land for …
State Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston

Maine legislators want stricter ethics code for state workers

By Scott Thistle on April 28, 2015, at 1:04 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Maine lawmakers on Wednesday are scheduled to debate a bill aimed at strengthening state’s ethics code for executive branch officers and employees, including those who run the biggest departments in state government. The bill is the result of a document-shredding scandal that erupted after a 2012 Sun …
Democrat John Martin of Eagle Lake speaks with Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, in the State House last year.

John Martin backs off bill to remove term limits

By Christopher Cousins on April 27, 2015, at 7:01 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The elimination of legislative term limits or extension of terms for lawmakers in Maine seem unlikely at best after committee votes Monday afternoon. Democratic Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake, who was the poster child for the implementation of term limits in 1993, sponsored a bill, LD …
Hollywood Casino in Bangor

Maine lawmakers push for more casinos

By Nick McCrea on April 27, 2015, at 6:18 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A study commissioned by the Legislature and released last year has prompted lawmakers to propose several bills that would allow more casinos to join those in Bangor and Oxford, despite opposition from officials representing the two existing facilities. LD 1346, An Act to Establish a Comprehensive Gaming …
Messalonskee High School students console each other during a Project Graduation Benefit Dinner for the Class of 2016 and fundraiser for the Cassidy Charette Scholarship and Connor Garland's family at The Red Barn in Augusta on Oct. 13, 2014. Charette, 17, was killed and Garland, 16, was critically injured in hayride accident at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls.

‘Cassidy’s Law’ aims to tighten Maine’s amusement ride safety laws

By Scott Thistle on April 27, 2015, at 3:48 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A hayride mishap that claimed the life of a 17-year-old Oakland girl last October at a farm in Mechanic Falls has Maine lawmakers grappling with what the state can or should do to prevent similar tragedies in the future. On Monday, the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public …
Canada geese on Monday glide over Knight's Pond in Cumberland, where local land trusts hope to conserve a 215 acre parcel. Supporters held a press conference on Monday urging Gov. LePage to release approved bond funds to seal the deal.

LePage doubles down on effort to trade conservation bonds for timber harvesting

By Mario Moretto on April 27, 2015, at 2:12 p.m.
CUMBERLAND | Gov. Paul LePage on Monday reiterated that he will not authorize roughly $11.5 million in voter-approved conservation bonds unless the Legislature approves a new plan to cut more timber on public land and use the new revenue to pay for heating assistance programs. Details were limited, but …

Land trust supporters call on LePage to issue bond funds

By Troy R. Bennett on April 27, 2015, at 2:08 p.m.
Canada geese glide over Knight’s Pond in Cumberland on Monday where local land trusts hope to conserve a 215 acre parcel. Supporters held a press conference urging Gov. Lepage to release approved bond funds to seal the deal.
Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen and Gov. Paul LePage in 2012.

Why Maine could go 12 months without a permanent education commissioner

By Christopher Cousins on April 26, 2015, at 5:34 a.m.
AUGUSTA | The Department of Education, one of state government’s two largest departments in terms of consumption of taxpayer dollars, has been without a permanent commissioner for six months, raising the question of how long it will be before that slot is filled. Gov. Paul LePage appointed Tom Desjardin …
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