Tuesday, May 21, 2013
LePage: Let's eliminate Maine income tax
The governor says he'll focus on that effort if the people of Maine re-elect him to a second term, but he won't support the current bipartisan plan to cut the tax in half.
Maine Senate backs bill to expand Medicaid, pay hospital debt
The bill, fiercely opposed by Republicans, is designed to combine one of the Democrats' leading policy initiatives with Gov. LePage's payback plan.
Officials plan to act on Maine restaurant oversight
Legislators will look into fixes after the Sunday Telegram reported that the state's inspection program is one of the least rigorous in America.
Wind power’s grip on Augusta weakening
Rural Maine communities protest turbines, which they say deface 'God's country,' but wind developers say they've invested too much money to be shut out now.
Enhanced early voting? Maine a few votes short
The bill passed overwhelmingly, 90-50, but it still fell shy of the two-thirds majority it will need to go to a voter referendum.
Tea party looks to take advantage of moment
"This is the defining moment to say 'I told you so.' "
Gov. LePage silenced in visit to panel
His surprise request to speak is rebuffed in order to keep ‘politics’ out of talks to deal with his MaineCare cutoff warning.
State House Notebook: Republicans try to debunk Medicaid savings claim
Also: Gun-show bill remains in the Senate.
Washington Notebook: Snowe recalls offer to play Joan of Arc
The former senator promotes her book, 'Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress.'
State House calendar, May 10, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Friday.
Hagel orders review of sex abuse prevention
The defense secretary orders recertification of thousands of service members involved in fighting sexual assaults.
Maine groups support universal pre-K
Educators testify in favor of a bill that aims for pre-kindergarten in all Maine districts by 2017.
Maine panel OKs Clean Election upgrade
But with Gov. Paul LePage critical and Republican votes against the bill, it faces an uncertain future.
Watchdog told Treasury officials of IRS program
The tax agency's ousted leader admits to 'foolish mistakes' but insists the activities were not political.
Maine panel rejects abortion-related bills
The ACLU cheers the legislative panel's votes on measures aimed at 'chipping away' at rights.
State House calendar, April 30, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Tuesday.
LePage to Democrats: Act now, or bankrupt DHHS
But Democrats accuse the department of mismanagement and say they won't approve funds until Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers 'tough questions.'
Maine committee deeply split on dental care bill
By authorizing hygienists to do more, the bill might benefit rural children, but dentists object.
Pickering subpoenaed to testify in closed session on Benghazi
The former co-chair of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board would not consent to a deposition.
Mainer tells Congress poverty can be beaten
The college professor, who grew up dirt poor, stresses the need to fund programs like Upward Bound.
Obama: Work on jobs not finished
The president tries to refocus on the economy, but partisan fighting follows him to Baltimore.
Maine abortion measures bring out passions
Testimony continues into the evening on bills proposed by lawmakers opposed to abortion.
Bill attacks 'epidemic' of military sex assaults
Co-authored by Maine's Susan Collins, the move to revamp the military's response to sexual assaults has bipartisan support.
Medicaid, hospital debate rages on in Augusta
'To do one without the other would leave the job half done,' Democratic leader Mark Eves says, but Republicans are reluctant to expand Medicaid.
Obama, Turkish leader pledge to keep pressure on Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been calling for more aggressive steps to topple Assad's government, but Washington remains reluctant to take the kind of action Turkey would like to see.
State House calendar, May 17, 2013
Legislative work sessions and hearings for May 17, 2013
Maine Democrats meld Medicaid expansion, hospital payback
The Maine Hospital Association supports both concepts, but Republicans are angry about tying the two together and hospitals fear a LePage veto.
Maine panel opposes guns for school employees
But four members of the public safety committee were absent, and they still could vote on the measure.
Obama ousts IRS chief over targeting of groups
A visibly angry president says 'I will not tolerate this kind of behavior' and vows to also hold others who were involved accountable.
Ethanol bill fuels debate in Maine Legislature
The chambers disagree on a bill that would – depending on other states' actions – ban ethanol.
Lobster promotion fees debated at State House
Augusta may allocate another $1 million for the ad effort.
State House calendar, May 16, 2013
Legislative hearings and work sessions for May 16, 2013.
Maine Senate considers exercise requirement for kids
The Senate also upholds Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill that sought to change the school budget approval process for school units known as alternative organizational structures.
Maine panel endorses labels for genetically modified food
Agribusiness giants like Monsanto will likely sue and have deep pockets, the AG says, but lawmakers still recommend passage.
LePage's superintendent residency veto stands
Because of the veto, cities and towns can require superintendents to live in their district. Numerous Republicans changed their votes to support LePage.
Maine panel opposes marijuana legalization
Opponents see it as a danger to society and in conflict with federal law, but the plan isn't dead yet.
Minnesota governor signs gay marriage bill; 12th state to approve
Cheering spectators filled the south lawn of the state Capitol, with American and rainbow flags fluttering in a sweltering breeze.
LePage not happy with bipartisan energy bill
The governor wants more money for homeowners switching heating systems.
State House calendar, May 15, 2013
Legislative work sessions and hearings for May 15, 2013
Democrats take steps against virtual Maine charter schools
Those on the education panel say the state should not subsidize the for-profit entities.
LePage: Union lawyer lied about shutdown
But the leader of the state employees union stands by the claim that plans are being made for one.
Maine legislators turn down a ban on tar sands
Committee members instead endorse a bill that would require more study of issues related to the fuel.
Snowe back to fight for middle ground
Olympia Snowe argues for a return to the days when compromise was possible on major issues.
State House calendar, May 14, 2013
Legislative hearings and work sessions for May 14, 2013.
Maine bill to slash energy costs goes to panel
The package melds numerous ideas and would partly use Maine Yankee settlement funds to boost efficiency.
Bill to limit food stamp purchases: Is it junk?
LePage says no, don't let recipients buy candy and soda, but the plan falters, and the public seems split.
Sen. Collins: IRS scrutiny of conservative groups 'chilling'
The Maine senator also says a decision to drop terrorist references from the Benghazi talking points was a political one.
Statehouse Notebook: Junk food, grades, abortion on Augusta agenda
Also, the Government Oversight Committee opens an investigation into possible improprieties at the Maine Center for Disease Control.
Snowe presses for bipartisanship in new book
In 34 years, the parties have become more interested in making each other look bad and focusing on re-election than doing what's best for the nation, she says.
State House calendar, May 13, 2013
Legislative hearings and work sessions for May 13, 2013.
Benghazi attack spurs political jockeying
Conservatives say the Obama administration's response leaves Democrats vulnerable.
Washington Notebook: Olympia's List gives Sen. Collins $10,000 for 2014
Sen. Collins to appear on CNN / Snowe book release Tuesday / Michaud raises money / Missile defense in Aroostook?
Obama hails courage of nation’s police officers
In a White House ceremony honoring some of the bravest, he said America need look no further than the Boston Marathon bombings to know what police are made of.
Maine tax overhaul proposal meets stiff opposition
Critics focus on provisions that would either remove sales tax exemptions or increase excise taxes.
Maine bill would make more 911 info secret
Maine is already one of only a few states to keep 911 recordings fully confidential, and it also places restrictions on transcripts of the calls.
LePage bill for school choice hits resistance
He wants some religious schools to be partly funded by the public, as well as allow an unlimited number of publicly funded charter schools.
Collins, Pingree join urgent talks on military rape
White House officials are also at the meeting, called to explore solutions to the growing problem.
Bold Maine tax reforms would affect many
Mainers would see a drop in property taxes – and tax credits would help low- and middle-class residents – but the bipartisan plan faces stiff opposition.
Bill Nemitz: Capital idea sprouts at Maine State House
On a snowy day last winter, Rep. Craig Hickman stood on the balcony of the Maine State House, closed his eyes and dreamed of food . . .
Maine Regulatory Fairness Board to meet in Presque Isle
The board is hearing from businesses owners and managers about specific state rules and regulations that may unreasonably impede business sustainability and growth.
Maine legislators vote to restart climate change planning
“I think the committee understood how much we all stand to lose if we don’t plan for the future,” said Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Minn. House approves gay marriage; would be 12th state
Lawmakers approved it 75-59, and the Senate and governor could make it law as early as Monday.
Bipartisan group OKs emergency aid for Lewiston victims
Lewiston will be allowed to disburse $30,000 in state funds to aid more than 200 residents displaced by fire.
Lawmakers seek to reverse money-in-politics decision
A group of Vermont lawmakers on Thursday called for a national constitutional convention similar to the one that convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to write the original Constitution.
'Unlawful command influence' at issue in sexual assaults in military
Some say the new military get-tough attitude toward sex assault cases may be interfering with justice.
Veteran Maine lawmakers honored at State House
Welcome Back Day includes a public recognition of the lawmakers, along with a luncheon in the Hall of Flags.
Furlough threat at Kittery shipyard subsides
A top Navy official tells senators that civilian workers – like those in Kittery – may need to be exempt to maintain military readiness
High hospital bills go public, but will it help?
The Obama administration hopes that releasing the information will lead to answers to the riddle of hospital pricing — and pressure some hospitals to lower their charges.
Over eggs, LePage talks debt and schools
Maine’s hospital obligation and the school-grading system dominate the menu for a breakfast discussion.
House committee advances Maine-linked sex-assault bill
The proposal is named for Ruth Moore of Maine, a Navy veteran who was raped while in the service.
Maine House OKs bills to limit ethanol sales
Opponents say that restricting the sale of 10 percent ethanol fuel would put Maine out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.
Maine bill proposes yearly check of hospital finances
Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick of Bangor, a physician, also wants to appoint a special panel to review the data.
Democrats propose their own evaluation plan for Maine schools
Meanwhile, state education officials spell out strategies for helping schools that received low grades.
A 'dire situation,' but LePage offers no funds to fire victims
The governor learns he does have $250,000 in contingency but suggests the Legislature find money for his hometown.
Senate OKs bill to selectively raise Maine interstate speeds
The bill authorizes raising the speed limit to 75 mph where it's deemed safe to do so.
Maine House upholds veto of car-fee increase bill
The vetoed bill would have allowed towns and cities to increase driver licensing and vehicle registration service fees.
NJ governor Christie had secret weight loss surgery
The Republican governor, who turned 50 in September, is running for a second term in 2013, and is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.
Sides clash on tar sands oil moratorium
Environmental groups want time to study the risks, but the industry says the bill’s effects would be harmful.
Sen. King still waiting for permanent digs on Capitol Hill
Currently he's working in a bunker-like office down the hall from former Sen. Olympia Snowe's large office suite.
President plans campaign on economy, jobs
Obama will make a series of quick trips to cities around the country to show focus on jobs.
Do the issues or politics rule tax reform debate?
Some at the State House predict the bill's failure before it has a public hearing.
NRA leader: 'We will never surrender our guns'
More than 70,000 were expected to attend the NRA's annual convention in Houston.
Cutbacks fall most heavily on the needy
The elderly, disabled and low-income Mainers are bearing a disproportionate share of the pain from federal budget cuts.
State House calendar, May 9, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Thursday.
State House calendar, May 7, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Tuesday.
State House calendar, May 8, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Wednesday.
Governor's push for new prison still alive
The prison plan is part of Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget for the upcoming two-year cycle.
Should food stamps fund junk food?
The bill advanced by Gov. LePage with bipartisan backing would prohibit food stamp recipients from buying soft drinks and junk food.
Disparate interests testify against Maine bill to legalize pot
The broad measure, sponsored by a Portland representative, would allow people 21 and older to possess 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana and six plants.
Maine charter school funding is a lesson in controversy
Some raise concerns as the Education Committee looks at making this a line item in the state budget.
State House calendar, May 6, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Monday.
Norquist puts down Maine tax reform package
The Americans for Tax Reform president says voting for the plan would violate its no-tax pledge.
Angus King: New strategy needed to fight lone wolf terrorists
Maine's independent senator says approaches like those used to fight the Cold War or al-Qaeda don't work when dealing with disaffected individuals.
LePage official blasts widely supported paint bill
The bill is sponsored by a Republican and supported by Democrats and the industry, but Melanie Loyzim testifies against it.
Hearing today on bill to legalize marijuana in Maine
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear testimony on a bill modeled on laws in Washington state and Colorado.
Maine committee endorses gun-show background checks
The committee also shoots down a Republican bill that would allow Mainers to carry concealed weapons without permits.
Bill Nemitz: Like our governor, letter grades too simple
Slapping poorer communities with a D or an F and wealthier ones with an A only reinforces the obvious, rather than addressing the problem.
State House calendar, May 3, 2013
Hearings and work sessions for Friday.