Author: Libby Palanza

Libby Palanza is a reporter for the Maine Wire and a lifelong Mainer. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and History. She can be reached at palanza@themainewire.com.

Beginning in August of this year, Maine lawmakers will again have oversight of agency rulemaking related to vehicle emissions standards, including the establishment of statewide “zero-emission requirements.” On Friday, Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed LD 2261 into law, officially guaranteeing that legislators will have the final say over the adoption of vehicle emissions rules by state agencies. Interest in ensuring this oversight gained momentum last year after the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) began considering the adoption of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II program following the submission of a petition by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). The…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced Monday that she will be allowing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact — an agreement that could bring about sweeping changes to how the President of the United States is elected — to become law without her signature. By joining this Compact, Maine’s four electoral votes could eventually be awarded to whichever presidential candidate garners the most votes nationwide, irrespective of who the majority of Mainers vote for at the ballot box. This Compact will only take effect, however, if the total number of electoral votes represented by the signatories is equal to or greater…

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U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called out President Joe Biden’s (D) Fiscal Year 2025 budget for not doing “nearly enough to address the flood of illegal migrants and fentanyl entering the United States” at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last week. Also at this hearing, Sen. Collins asked Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to address Customs and Board Protection (CBP) staffing shortages in Maine that are jeopardizing the arrival of international cruise ships in Eastport this fall. According to a press release published by Collins this past Thursday, CBP has told Eastport that it “cannot accommodate the four planned…

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Lawmakers in Augusta voted nearly-unanimously this past Friday to advance a bill guaranteeing Mainers the right to repair their electronic devices. This was followed by a more partisan vote to adopt a floor amendment advanced by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot). The only senator to vote against LD 1487 — as amended by the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA) Committee — was Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin). Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-York) was excused at the time and did not participate, resulting in this version of the bill being approved in a roll call vote of 33-1. All…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law a bill last week repealing limitations on municipal property tax collection that have been in place for nearly twenty years. Brought forward by Sen. Teresa Pierce (D-Cumberland), LD 2102 sought to roll back statutes that have been in place since 2005 and were designed to curb government spending and reduce Mainers’ tax burden. The now-repealed law — referred to as LD 1 — was originally implemented in January 2005 after “countless hours” of consideration by the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Reform” and was ultimately passed “by wide margins in both…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have approved legislation changing how medical debt is handled in the State of Maine. LD 2115 — sponsored by Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) — was introduced earlier this year and subsequently referred to the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services (HCIFS) Committee. Under the amended version of this bill now approved by both chambers of the Legislature, debt collectors are prohibited from charging any interest or fees in connection with medical debt. It also bars debt collectors from pursuing litigation to compel the payment of medical debt if the consumer’s household income is less than 300 percent…

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The Legislature voted Wednesday to sustain Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) veto of a bill preventing repeat offenders from being charged with felony theft if the stolen property’s total valuation is lower than $500. Currently, Maine law contains what is colloquially known as a “three strikes” provision for theft, allowing for the imposition of harsher penalties upon those who have two or more prior convictions for related crimes. This bill sought to modify this by allowing for it’s application only to those whose subsequent offenses involve the theft of more than $500 worth of property. “Limiting the ability of prosecutors to…

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The Maine House of Representatives voted late Wednesday evening to advance a bill that would institute legal protections for those seeking or providing “gender-affirming health care” and “reproductive health care services” in Maine. On Thursday, the State Senate passed the measure along party lines, 21-13, sending the controversial measure to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk. The 80-70 House roll call vote was divided along nearly-partisan lines, with all Republicans opposing the bill alongside Democrats Rep. Michel A. Lajoie (D-Lewiston) and Rep. Bruce A. White (D-Waterville). No lawmakers were absent or excused at the time this vote was taken. Leading up to…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have scrapped a bill that would have legalized the possession of illicit drugs, including opioids, swapping it out in favor of a plan to study whether decriminalizing hard drugs is a good idea. The amended legislation establishes a task force responsible for reviewing decriminalization efforts elsewhere in the country and investigating their impact on a range of public health and safety metrics, including the incidence of overdose. After receiving unanimous committee approval, both chambers of the Legislature voted to advance the amended bill without taking a roll call vote. Once lawmakers cast their final votes on the…

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A proposed amendment enshrining abortion in Maine’s state constitution failed Wednesday to gain enough support for final passage in the House of Representatives. In Maine, resolutions proposing amendments to the state constitution must be backed by at least two-thirds of the members present in each chamber in order to be placed on the ballot for final approval by voters at the next election. During Wednesday’s vote in the House, no Republican lawmakers voted in support of advancing the amendment, leading to a roll call vote of 75-65. Consequently, support came up far short of the super majority necessary to advance…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law this past Wednesday a bill that implements new regulations on the fees that landlords can impose upon their current and potential tenants. LD 1490 puts in place a number of provisions pertaining to the types of fees landlords may charge current and future tenants, as well as those that may be imposed by the owners of mobile home parks. It also adds into statute a mandatory 45-day notification requirement for any increase in recurring fees, mirroring that which is currently in place for rent increases. This law also requires landlords to provide potential…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have approved a bill providing property tax relief to a broader group of Maine veterans and their families, while also extending a greater measure of relief to veterans with qualifying disabilities. The version of the bill supported by legislators in the House and Senate looks markedly different, however, from the original draft introduced last year by Rep. Benjamin C. Hymes (R-Waldo). At first, this bill — LD 1737 — was designed to allow qualifying veterans to reduce their state property tax bill by up to $5,000, replacing the current exemption, which instead allows them to take $5,000…

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Former Republican President Donald Trump announced his stance Monday on abortion and fertility treatments in advance of the 2024 presidential election, prompting his Democratic rival, President Joe Biden, to release a statement in response criticizing his remarks. The back-and-forth comes amidst an ongoing discussion nationwide over abortion and fertility treatments, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, wherein Roe v. Wade was overturned, sending the issue of abortion back to the states. In a five-minute video posted to the social media platform Truth Social Monday morning, former…

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On Tuesday, the Maine Legislature sustained Gov. Janet Mills’ veto of a bill that would have placed restrictions on the enforceability of non-compete clauses. LD 1496 — sponsored by Rep. Sophia B. Warren (D-Scarborough) — was introduced in 2023 and carried over into the current legislative session for consideration. Non-compete clauses are contractural agreements used by employers to limit the professional activities of current employees in the event they leave a company. Warren’s bill aimed to prohibit the enforcement of non-compete clauses except under a few narrowly-defined circumstances. Under the version of the bill adopted by the Legislature, such agreements…

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No Labels announced Thursday that it will not be advancing a ticket in the 2024 presidential election. This comes just weeks after the group decided to proceed forward with the candidate selection process after receiving feedback from members a “Unity Ticket” was desired. According to the organization, they have opted to not offer a presidential slate this November because no candidates emerged during their selection process that they felt had a realistic chance of success in the general election. [RELATED: No Labels Moving Forward with Plans to Run a “Unity Ticket” This November] “Americans remain more open to an independent…

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Earlier this week, lawmakers defeated a bill that would have allowed municipalities to impose a one percent sales tax on the cost of short-term rentals for the purpose of raising money for locally-driven affordable housing efforts. Introduced last year by Rep. Charles A. Skold (D-Portland), LD 1298 sought to give cities and towns the ability to impose a one percent sales tax on short-term rentals in order to create a revenue source for municipal-level programs supporting affordable housing, as well as for providing rental assistance to residents. While this would not have required municipalities to implement such a tax, it…

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In the coming months, the state government will be studying ways to increase the use of renewable energy in and improve the energy efficiency of Maine’s public schools. Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a resolution in late March directing the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) to conduct a study evaluating “opportunities for clean energy and energy efficiency programs in schools.” By January 31, 2025, the MDOE’s Office of Innovation must “study and develop guidance” for public elementary and secondary schools to achieve “energy efficiency” and “maximiz[e] the use of clean energy.” This work is to be conducted in coordination with…

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A bill separating the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was passed Wednesday in the Senate with strong bipartisan support. Instead, this bill establishes a cabinet-level department that would take on the responsibilities currently managed by the DHHS OCFS, including child welfare, children’s behavioral health, and early childhood services. According to the appropriations and allocations section attached to the amended version of the bill currently under consideration, roughly $4.2 million from the state’s General Fund will be needed to cover the costs associated with the new department. On Wednesday,…

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved more than $7 million in taxpayer funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency investments at farms and businesses throughout rural Maine. This funding comes as part of a $124 million nationwide dispersal from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) program, which was spread across a total of 541 projects in 44 states. Funding for the REAP program came, in part, from the Inflation Reduction Act which — according to the United States Department of Energy (DOE) — made “the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history,…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have voted to repeal limitations on municipal property tax collection that have been in place for nearly twenty years. Brought forward by Sen. Teresa Pierce (D-Cumberland), LD 2102 seeks to roll back statutes that have been in place since 2005 and were designed to curb government spending and reduce Mainers’ tax burden. [RELATED: Republican Lawmakers Express Staunch Opposition to Repeal of 2005 Limit on Municipal Property Tax Increases] The law now repealed by lawmakers — referred to as LD 1 — was originally implemented in January 2005 after “countless hours” of consideration by the Legislature’s Joint Select…

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Mainers are some of the most heavily taxed citizens in the United States. According to a recent study conducted by personal finance website WalletHub, Mainers currently bear the nation’s highest property tax burden and are responsible for the country’s fourth highest total tax burden. Only residents of New York, Hawaii, and Vermont were calculated as paying a higher percentage of their personal income in taxes. Included in WalletHub’s report are an evaluation of property taxes, individual income taxes, and sales and excise taxes. To determine the tax burden each state imposes on its residents, taxes owed in each category were…

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The Democratic effort to amend Maine’s Constitution to protect the abortion industry is on life-support after failing to get a supermajority of support in the State Senate Monday. The legislation proposing the amendment that would enshrine a “right to abortion” advanced along partisan lines, but the measure failed to get the two-thirds support it will ultimately need to appear before voters on the ballot this November for final approval. LD 780 — sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) — was introduced during the 131st Legislature’s first session and carried over to this year for consideration. If approved, this amendment would…

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On Monday, state lawmakers in the House of Representatives advanced Gov. Janet Mills’ proposal to transfer millions out of the Budget Stabilization Fund (BSF) — colloquially known as the Rainy Day Fund — in response to recent storm damage throughout the state. In accepting the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee’s Democrat-backed majority report, representatives opted to not only approve Gov. Mills’ proposal to reallocate $50 million from the BSF to the Infrastructure Adaptation Fund (IAF), but also to transfer an additional $10 million from the BSF to the newly-created Business Recovery and Resilience Fund (BRRF). Created in 2021, the…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced Friday her plans to allocate millions in taxpayers’ dollars to a series of one-time initiatives in Fiscal Years (FY) 2024 and 2025. This new funding comes in addition to the governor’s proposed supplemental budget that is currently being debated by lawmakers. In a press release distributed before the Easter weekend, Gov. Mills’ highlighted a number of projects that she hopes to see receive funding in the forthcoming budget, including additional support for affordable housing construction in rural Maine, grants to child care providers, low or no-interest loans to groups of mobile home park residents seeking…

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The Maine Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s longstanding ban on Sunday hunting is constitutional despite the recently-enacted Right to Food Amendment. Despite finding that hunting for food is covered by the terms of the new amendment, the Court determined that it also prohibits procuring food by illicit means, including “poaching.” Based on the Court’s understanding of the term “poaching,” it determined that Mainers have a right to hunt except for “situations in which hunting is illegal,” including on Sundays. In 2021, lawmakers in Augusta asked Mainers to weigh in a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution establishing a…

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All members of the Maine State Legislature’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA) Committee have supported the passage of a bill to institute a “right to repair” for electronic devices, but lawmakers remain divided over the specific construction of the law. LD 1487 — An Act to Ensure That Residents of the State Have the Right to Repair Their Own Electronic Devices — was sponsored by Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) last year and carried over to this legislative session. This bill was originally co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including: Rep. Kristi Michele Mathieson (D-Kittery), Sen. Eric Brakey…

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Lawmakers have unanimously voted to advance a bill allocating additional state funding for homeless shelters, explicitly reserving a portion of this funding for low-barrier shelters, and convening a stakeholder group to develop a 10-year plan to address the “root causes of homelessness” in Maine. LD 2136 was sponsored by Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford) and introduced to the Legislature earlier this year. This bill allocated a total of $12.5 million worth of ongoing funding to homeless shelters located throughout the state, with $2.5 million of that being reserved specifically for low-barrier shelters. The Maine State Housing Authority is also directed in…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have advanced a bill that aims to prevent repeat offenders from being charged with felony theft if the stolen property is valued lower than $500. Currently, Maine law contains what is colloquially known as a “three strikes” provision for theft, imposing harsher penalties upon those who have two or more prior convictions for related crimes. This bill aims to modify that requirement by applying it only to those whose subsequent offenses involve the theft of more than $500 worth of property. LD 2246 — An Act to Establish a Minimum Value Threshold for the Class C Crime…

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The Maine State Housing Authority will be financing the construction of 105 new affordable rental units in several towns throughout rural Maine. These one- and two-bedroom units will be constructed in Hallowell, Newcastle, Rockport, Rumford, Sanford, and Waterville. According to a press release published by Gov. Janet Mills (D) Tuesday, funding for this project comes from the state’s biennial budget, as well as from the recently approved bond cap expansion. LD 2209 — approved unanimously by lawmakers earlier this month — allows the Maine State Housing Authority to have an “aggregate principal amount outstanding” in “mortgage purchase bonds” of $3…

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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday morning in a case concerning the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recently loosened restrictions on the administration of mifepristone, a drug used in medication-induced abortions. This was the first time that the Court has heard an abortion-related case since overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. Much of the discussion Tuesday focused not on the merits of the case, but rather on the issues of standing and the scope of relief being sought by the challengers. According to the FDA’s website, mifepristone “blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to…

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Maine lawmakers have approved along party lines a bill to implement new regulations on the fees that landlords can impose upon their current and potential tenants. Approved by Democrat lawmakers earlier this month, this bill puts in place a number of provisions pertaining to the types of fees landlords may charge current and future tenants, as well as those that may be imposed by the owners of mobile home parks. It also adds into statute a mandatory 45-day notification requirement for any increase in recurring fees, mirroring that which is currently in place for rent increases. This law would also…

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A proposal requiring legislative oversight for agency rulemaking related to vehicle emissions standards — including the establishment of “zero-emission requirements” — has gained broad, bipartisan support in Augusta. The Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee had a public hearing and work session last week for LD 2261 — An Act Designating New Motor Vehicle Emissions Rules as Major Substantive Rules. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Michael Soboleski (R-Phillips) and was cosponsored by a number of lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle, including prominent Democrats Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross…

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Maine lawmakers have approved a resolution establishing a Commission to study the extent to which housing voucher recipients in the state are discriminated against on account of the fact they receive income-based assistance. The Commission must complete a report by November 6, 2024 detailing their findings and recommendations to the Legislature, including any suggested legislation. Although this measure initially began as a sweeping proposal to change the Maine Human Rights Act and create a new rental assistance program, it was later amended to be a resolution creating a study commission. Despite the fact that the Housing Committee’s recommendation to the…

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The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it has adopted the “strongest-ever pollution standards for cars” which are expected to require as much as 56 percent of new car sales to be comprised of electric vehicles (EVs) by 2032. In order to meet the EPA’s new standards, an additional 13 percent of new vehicle sales would likely need to be accounted for with plug-in hybrid cars. This decision from the federal government comes as the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) voted 4-2 to reject the controversial, California-style EV mandate proposed by the Natural Resources Council of Maine…

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The Maine Legislature’s Housing Committee has recommended that lawmakers reject a bill requiring the government to convene a stakeholder group tasked with developing an amendment to the state constitution establishing a right to housing. Originally, this legislation was intended to directly propose a right to housing amendment, sending it to voters for approval this November. As LD 853 was first written, this amendment would have added a clause to the state constitution reading: “All individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to housing.” In November, voters would have been asked the following question: “Do you favor amending the Constitution…

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), alongside 16 states — including Maine — have filed a civil anti-trust lawsuit against Apple, accusing the tech company of illegally monopolizing the smartphone market by implementing restrictions that stifle innovation and make it unfeasible for many users to move outside of the Apple ecosystem. Also joining the lawsuit are the states of New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. Click Here to Read the DOJ’s Full Press Release According to the lawsuit, Apple’s efforts to “protect and…

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The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) has officially rejected the controversial electric vehicle (EV) mandate that has been under consideration for the past several months with a 4-2 vote on Wednesday. Last year, a citizen petition initiated by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) was submitted to Maine BEP asking for “the requirements of the California Advanced Clean Cars II” to be incorporated into Maine’s existing regulatory code. Although only 150 people Maine residents signed the petition, it set in motion a bureaucratic process that could have allowed the Mills Administration to impose sweeping controls on what kinds…

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New Hampshire has charged someone with murder in the death of an unborn child for the first time in the state’s history. In 2017, the New Hampshire State Legislature passed a bill defining an unborn child more than 20 weeks old as a person for the purposes of criminal murder prosecution. This measure was later signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and took effect in 2018. William Kelly, age 38, has been charged with two counts second-degree murder — one for allegedly killing Christine Falzone, age 33, and one for allegedly killing her unborn child. According to NBC…

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Lawmakers in Augusta are considering a bill that has the potential to change how medical debt is handled in the State of Maine. LD 2115 — sponsored by Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) — was introduced earlier this year and subsequently referred to the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services (HCIFS) Committee. Under the version of this bill currently being considered by lawmakers, medical debt would not be factored into Mainers’ credit scores, nor would it be subjected to interest or fees from debt collectors. The proposed law would also prohibit debt collectors from pursuing legal action against those responsible for…

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Lawmakers in the Maine House of Representatives have postponed consideration of a proposal to sign onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that could bring about sweeping changes to how the President of the United States is elected. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, if approved, would award the state’s four electoral votes to whichever candidate garners the most popular votes nationwide, irrespective of who the majority of Mainers voted for at the ballot box. LD 1578 — An Act to Adopt an Interstate Compact to Elect the President of the United States by National Popular Vote —…

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The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday morning in the case against a number of federal officials alleging that they violated Americans’ First Amendment rights by pressuring social media companies to censor certain speech. While those arguing on behalf of the federal government defended their ability to communicate and coordinate with social media platforms concerning their content moderation policies, the states’ representative asserted that this is an impermissible violation of users’ First Amendment rights. Although both lower court decisions largely sided with the states, the Justices appeared somewhat skeptical during Monday’s oral arguments of fully affirming these rulings,…

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The State of Maine may soon begin taxing subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. The proposed supplemental budget released by Gov. Janet Mills (D) in February contains language that would impose a 5.5% tax on the cost of Mainers’ streaming service subscriptions. On page twenty-five of the eighty-page legislation, it states that a 5.5% sales tax is to be applied to “all tangible personal property and taxable services.” An updated and expanded definition of “taxable services” that now includes “digital audio-visual and digital audio services” can be found on page twenty-one of the bill. The definition…

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Michael Friedland of the Lumbery — a small business located in the Cape Elizabeth town center on Route 77 that sells locally sourced wood, garden beds, and tools — has asked the Town Council to provide reimbursement for legal fees and other expenses incurred during his protracted legal battle with the Town. In November of 2023, the Cape Elizabeth Town Council voted unanimously to dismiss without prejudice the lawsuit filed against Friedland and the Lumbery in October of 2022 for allegedly failing to comply with the town’s zoning and sign ordinances. [RELATED: Case Dismissed — Cape Town Council Finally Drops…

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All four members of Maine’s Congressional delegation have reached out to the federal government for an update regarding a proposed rule allowing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to reimburse Maine Veterans’ Homes (MVH) for care provided to veterans with dementia. Sen. Susan Collins (R), Sen. Angus King (I), Rep. Jared Golden (D), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) have written to VA Secretary Denis McDonough asking for an update on the Department’s progress toward finalizing this rule, according to a Thursday press release. In 2020, Congress passed a law authorizing the Department to reimburse state veterans’ homes for the costs…

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The U.S. House of Representatives has voted in favor of a bill that would ban TikTok from all devices in the United States unless the app’s Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance divests from the platform. A substantial number of both Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the measure Wednesday, leading to the bill passing by a margin of 352 to 65. A majority of Democratic representatives, 155 — including Rep. Jared Golden (D) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) of Maine — and 197 Republicans voted in support of banning the app unless it is removed from Chinese ownership. TikTok has…

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A second effort to impeach Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) for her December decision attempting to remove former Republican President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot has been defeated. Consideration of the impeachment inquiry in the House took place just two days after the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states do not have the authority to bar presidential candidates from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Court determined that the Civil War era provision aimed at keeping former confederates from rising to power can only be enforced against federal candidates if…

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The Legislature is considering a bill that would give state lawmakers the final say on the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s (BEP) controversial electric vehicle (EV) mandate, as well as on similar rules going forward. Introduced by Rep. Michael Soboleski (R-Phillips), LD 2261 would designate all BEP rulemaking related to vehicle emissions standards as major substantive, thereby subjecting it to legislative review. Under the Maine Administrative Procedures Act, agency rulemaking falls into one of two categories: routine technical or major substantive. While routine technical rulemaking occurs entirely within a department, major substantive rules are subject to the legislative review process,…

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Lawmakers in Augusta are considering the repeal of a 2005 law placing limits on the degree to which municipalities can increase the amount of property taxes they raise in a given year. Brought forward by Sen. Teresa Pierce (D-Cumberland), LD 2102 seeks to roll back laws that have been in place for nearly twenty years and were designed to curb government spending and reduce Mainers’ tax burden. Last November, Democrat members of the Legislative Council unanimously approved the bill’s introduction, while the Republicans were united in their opposition. [RELATED: Maine Democrats Attempting to Repeal Limit on Municipal Spending in Place…

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The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Friday that it received more than $2 million in federal funding to address the “community mental health needs” that have arisen from the tragic mass shooting that took place in Lewiston last year. The $2,048,452 in funding has to the Maine DHHS through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Emergency Response Grant program (SERG). According to the federal Health and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the SERG program is “enables public entities to address mental health and substance abuse needs when existing resources…

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Maine lawmakers have approved a bill prohibiting many entities — including schools, grocery stores, and small businesses — from sending their food waste to landfills. Instead, this legislation requires that “designated food waste generators” send their inedible food waste to organics recyclers for processing and donate their excess edible food to “food rescue organizations.” The fiscal note attached to the legislation indicates that these new provisions will require the state to establish five new government positions, costing taxpayers more than $550,000 in fiscal year 2024-25. LD 1009 — An Act Regarding the Reduction and Recycling of Food Waste — was…

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No Labels has officially announced that it will be moving forward with candidate selection for its presidential ticket ahead, according to a press release shared by the organization Friday. The group has gained recognition in recent months for pledging to offer its ballot line to a “Unity Ticket” this November should the two major parties “select candidates the vast majority of Americans don’t want to vote for.” “Earlier today, I led a discussion with the 800 No Labels delegates from all 50 states,” said No Labels National Convention Chair Mike Rawlings. “These citizen leaders have spent months discussing with one…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed into law a bill allocating more than $15 million to reimburse municipalities for the cost associated with the short-lived Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens program. After the appropriation was unanimously approved in committee, both chambers of the legislature voted without a roll call in favor of moving the measure forward. The Senate voted in favor of finalizing the bill’s passage without a roll call, and the House unanimously voted in a roll call to send the legislation on to the governor for a signature. Gov. Mills signed the bill into law on Wednesday,…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law this past Thursday a bill that requires internet providers to prorate for customers who cancel their services midway through their billing cycle, as well as issue rebates to customers who experience prolonged outages. Maine had previously enacted a law requiring cable companies to prorate their customers’ final bills, which was set to go into effect in September of 2020. The implementation of the law was delayed, however, when Spectrum took the measure to court claiming that it was preempted by federal law. After an initial lower court victory for Spectrum, the First Circuit…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have shut down a bill that would have created a new tax deduction allowing Mainers to subtract what their yearly electricity costs — up to $2,500 — off of their taxable income. The bill’s defeat fell nearly along partisan lines in both the House (77-64) and Senate (20-14), with a small handful of Democrats voting alongside Republicans in support of the measure, including Sen. Joe Baldacci (D-Penobscot), Rep. David A. Sinclair (D-Bath), and Rep. Scott Landry (D-Farmington). First introduced by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) last session, LD 1873 was originally designed to establish a Home Energy Savings…

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House lawmakers in Augusta voted to approve joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that could bring about sweeping changes to how the President of the United States is elected. With a roll call vote of 74-67, representatives in the State House voted in favor of LD 1578 — An Act to Adopt an Interstate Compact to Elect the President of the United States by National Popular Vote — a bill sponsored last session by Rep. Arthur L. Bell (D-Yarmouth). [RELATED: Maine Lawmakers Divided Over Potentially Joining the “National Popular Vote” Interstate Compact] All House Republicans voted against…

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Voters in the Town of Cumberland resoundingly defeated the controversial proposal to construct a 107-unit affordable housing development on the municipally-owned land located on Drowne Road. 2,545 Cumberland voters — representing 68.6 percent of those who cast ballots Tuesday — rejected the proposed development, while just 31.4 percent — or 1,163 voters — expressed support for the project moving forward. Of the 107 units that were slated for construction, there would have been 71 one-bedroom apartments, 21 two-bedrooms, and 15 three-bedrooms. Thirty-six of the one-bedroom units were to be reserved for senior citizens. The most recent design for the development…

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Lawmakers in Augusta held a public hearing Tuesday for a bill that would institute legal protections for those seeking or providing “gender-affirming health care” and “reproductive health care services” in Maine. Originally introduced last session as a concept draft titled “An Act Regarding Health Care in the State,” the bill’s sponsor — Rep. Anne C. Perry (D-Calais) — introduced just last week a lengthy amendment setting forth the actual proposed language for the legislation. Although this amendment was not released until last week, the bill’s public hearing stretched late into the night on Tuesday. https://twitter.com/TheMaineWire/status/1765088122960806146?s=20 Although the bill refers to…

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Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has withdrawn her decision disqualifying former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in the ballot eligibility case out of Colorado released Monday morning. The United States Supreme Court unanimously decided in the case of Trump v. Anderson that former President Trump must be allowed to appear on the Colorado ballot, as states do not have the authority to disqualify candidates for federal office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. While there was some degree of disagreement among the Justices as to the…

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The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump must be allowed to appear on the ballot in Colorado, as states do not have the authority to disqualify candidates for federal office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Enacted in the wake of the Civil War in an effort to prevent former Confederates from gaining power, this provision reads: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an…

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$5.4 million worth of grants from the state government have been awarded to municipalities throughout Maine to “protect vulnerable infrastructure and improve resiliency to the effects of climate change.” According to a press release published by Gov. Janet Mills (D) Thursday, the funding was spread across 39 projects in 37 towns and cities and will be administered by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). Of the total grants awarded, $4 million worth are being directed toward 20 culvert projects in 18 municipalities, while the remaining $1.4 million is being spread across 19 other endeavors that “protect vulnerable public infrastructure from…

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a newly-enacted state law prohibiting foreign governments — and companies owned in part by foreign governments — from campaigning either for or against both candidates and ballot questions in Maine. After voters overwhelmingly approved the citizens initiative proposing this law at the ballot box last November, four lawsuits were filed almost immediately in opposition to it. In addition to barring foreign involvement, the legislation also requires the media to do their “due diligence” to determine whether or not the entity behind an advertisement is owned by a foreign government when making decisions…

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A bill concerning the purchase and sale of single-use plastic water bottles by state and municipal governments — as well as the mandated installation of free-to-use water refill stations in certain facilities — was rejected by the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee at the request of its sponsor. LD 1418 — An Act Concerning Single-use Disposable Water Bottles and Water Refill Stations — was introduced last session by Rep. Lori K. Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach) and carried over into this year for consideration. Rep. Gramlich, however, asked the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday to vote against the bill…

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In response to the controversial electric vehicle (EV) mandate currently under consideration by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP), several lawmakers in the State Senate attempted Thursday to block confirmation of the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee’s appointments to the Board. In its current form, the mandate would require that 51 percent of new car sales in Maine be comprised of EVs by model year 2028 and 82 percent by model year 2032. Last year, a citizen petition initiated by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) was submitted to Maine BEP asking for “the requirements of the…

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A bill aiming to limit donations to political action committees (PACs) was introduced in the State Legislature Wednesday following the validation of a citizens petition last week. LD 2232 — An Act to Limit Contributions to Political Action Committees That Make Independent Expenditures — was formally brought before lawmakers Wednesday after Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows validated the citizens petition signatures this past Thursday. Unless the Legislature moves to adopt the bill exactly as it is written, the initiative will be placed on the ballot as a statewide referendum question this November. [RELATED: Citizens Initiative Aiming to Limit PAC…

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Among likely Republican primary voters in Maine, support for former President Donald Trump (R) is strong, and concerns over the border have heavily influenced the candidate many have chosen to back at the ballot box, according to a recent University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center poll. Among those likely to vote in the state’s Democrat primary, 75 percent indicated an intention to support incumbent President Joe Biden (D), while more than 20 percent were either planning support another candidate or are unsure of their voting plans. Maine’s presidential primary is going to be one of seventeen jurisdictions participating in…

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Lawmakers in Augusta have approved the allocation of more than $15 million to reimburse municipalities for the cost associated with the short-lived Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens program. After the appropriation was unanimously approved in committee, both chambers of the legislature voted without a roll call in favor of adopting the measure. LD 646 — sponsored by Rep. Melanie F. Sachs (D-Freeport) — was originally a “placeholder” concept draft carried over from the first legislative session. Earlier this month, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee unanimously accepted an amendment adding substance to the bill and re-titling it to “An…

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Maine politicians announced Tuesday that the state has been awarded $10 million in taxpayer funding to subsidize the installation of heat pumps in mobile and manufactured homes throughout the state. Gov. Janet Mills (D) was joined at a press conference Tuesday by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D), Director of the Governor’s Energy Office Dan Burgess, and Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard. Also in attendance at the press conference was homeowner Marianna Casagranda who participated in a heat pump pilot program last year. This grant comes as part of a $336 million initiative from the United States Department of Energy (DOE)…

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The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday morning in a pair of cases concerning the constitutionality of laws in Florida and Texas prohibiting social media platforms from censoring users’ content. Throughout the nearly four hours worth of proceedings, the Justices appeared skeptical of the states’ authority to regulate social media platforms’ content moderation policies. Questions related to the laws’ scope, applicability, and intersection with existing law suggested the Justices may be considering a more nuanced interpretation of these provisions. The possibility of sending the case back down to a lower court for further fact finding was also raised…

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The Maine Senate has officially defeated a resolution calling for a national convention under Article V to consider proposing amendments to impose term limits on members of Congress and address issues related to campaign finance. SP 705 — Joint Resolution Making Separate Applications to the Congress of the United States Calling Constitutional Conventions to Consider Representational Integrity and Propose Amendments Establishing Term Limits for Congress and Addressing Campaign Finance Reform — was initially introduced during the state’s first legislative session and then carried over into this year. After the Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) Committee split over the resolution in…

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A citizens initiative aimed at changing Maine’s campaign finance law is likely to come before voters at the ballot box this November. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced Thursday that the petitions circulated by the effort’s organizers were found to have 76,081 valid signatures — a figure that surpasses the minimum threshold for a citizens initiative to be allowed to proceed. Titled “An Act to Limit Contributions to Political Action Committees That Make Independent Expenditures,” the initiative will now be sent to lawmakers in Augusta for consideration. The initiative was led by Lawrence Lessig, a political activist and professor…

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The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is poised to levy a $250,000 fine against the company responsible for Worcester Wreath and the Flagpole of Freedom Project as a result of unpermitted development and failure to implement proper “erosion and sedimentation control measures.” The company — Worcester Holdings LLC — may also be required to file for an “after-the-fact permit” by March 1, 2024 for any “unpermitted activities” in which they have engaged. According to a DEP memo sent to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) and the Attorney General’s Office by the DEP, Wocester Holdings constructed “the first…

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MaineHousing is launching a pilot program that will help older homeowners list their spare rooms for rent online, an effort the quasi-governmental agency says is aimed at expanding the availability of affordable housing options while simultaneously reducing elderly Mainers’ living expenses. The state housing authority recently signed a $200,000 contract with Nesterly — a platform that connects retirees and “empty nesters” with those in search of housing for more than thirty days. Borne out of a resolution introduced by Rep. Maggie O’Neil (D-Saco) in February of last year, this pilot program is intended to “[assist] older persons to reduce living…

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Several recently acquired electric school buses have been pulled off the road as a result of potentially dangerous malfunctions and premature signs of wear. According to the Kennebec Journal, the buses in question were manufactured by the Canadian-based company Lion Electric and provided at no cost through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) $5 billion Clean School Bus Program that was launched in October of 2022. As part of this program, school districts in Winthrop, Bingham, Mount Desert Island, and Yarmouth, among others, were given Lion Electric buses as part of the nationwide goal of electrifying 75 percent of the…

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The State of Maine reportedly imposes upon its residents one of the heftiest vehicle tax burdens in the nation. According to a recent study from the personal finance website WalletHub, Maine has the fifth highest vehicle tax rate in the country, coming in at an effective rate of 2.40 percent. Virginia was found to have the highest effective tax rate — 3.97 percent — meanwhile 25 states were shown to impose no vehicle-specific taxes. Among those states with no state vehicular tax burden are: Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New…

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On March 5, voters in the Town of Cumberland are set to weigh in on a controversial proposal to construct a 107-unit affordable housing development on the municipally-owned land located on Drowne Road. As the day of the vote draws closer, brightly colored lawn signs have begun to crop up throughout the town, vehemently advocating both for and against the affordable housing proposal. Of the 107 units slated for construction, there would be 71 one-bedroom apartments, 21 two-bedrooms, and 15 three-bedrooms. 36 of the one-bedroom units are to be reserved for senior citizens. As it is currently designed, all 36…

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Former President Donald Trump (R) has declined to petition the Supreme Court for review of a December appeals court decision denying him presidential immunity for his actions on January 6, 2021. Because former President Trump did not appeal this ruling, the lawsuits that have filed against him will proceed to the fact-finding stage in Washington DC federal court. According to the Court of Appeals, a president is protected from civil liability only when carrying out his official duties. Despite this ruling, the former president will be afforded the opportunity to “develop his own facts on the immunity question” and move…

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The Portland Museum of Art announced Thursday that it will be laying off thirteen employees, citing the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, decreased attendance, and “economic and urban stress.” According to the museum, those laid off included both salaried and hourly employees. The recently unionized Gallery Ambassadors and Security Associates were not affected. In a statement released Thursday, the Museum explained that it spends about seventy percent of its budget on wages and benefits, and they “need[ed] to reduce personnel expenses” due to the “challenging environment” in which they are operating. The Museum suggested that because it “continue[s] to…

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Launched in 2022, online discount shopping website Temu — owned by the China-based company PDD Holdings — has come under renewed scrutiny following its large Super Bowl ad buy this past weekend. In recent months, Temu has found itself at the center of a Congressional investigation, as well as the subject of two separate class action lawsuits out of New York and Illinois. Accusations against the company include the use of forced labor, spying on its customers, improper handling of users’ financial information, and alleged ties to the Chinese communist party. Ahead of the Super Bowl, a group of federal…

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Three Maine airports have received a combined $18,024,800 in federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Fiscal Year 2024 Airport Terminal Program to make “critical infrastructure improvements.” $10.4 million was given to the Portland International Jetport, $6.5 million to the Presque Isle International Airport, and $1,124,800 to the Eastport Municipal Airport. The grant that was awarded to the Portland Jetport will be used to fund the installation of new passenger boarding bridges and fixed bridge extensions from the terminal building. The Jetport will also use these funds to construct a new concourse, public restroom, “adjacent gender-neutral bathrooms, adult changing…

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For the first time in twenty years, the death of a North Atlantic Right Whale has been linked to Maine fishing gear, according to a federal environmental agency. Found dead off of Martha’s Vineyard on January 28 — near Joseph Sylvia State Beach — the juvenile, female whale was described as having been entangled in a rope that was “deeply embedded in the tail.” According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — parent agency of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — the rope found on the whale contained purple markings that are consistent with…

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The Maine State Legislature’s Judiciary Committee has voted nine-to-zero against a bill that would have amended the Maine Human Rights Act to give business owners the opportunity to remove physical barriers that hinder disabled individuals’ access to their property before a lawsuit could be filed against them. Introduced by Sen. Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland), LD 2195 — An Act to Protect Businesses from Fraudulent or Predatory Financial Settlements by Allowing Those Businesses Opportunities to Remove Architectural Barriers in Noncompliance with the Maine Human Rights Act — was an after deadline bill taken up for consideration during this legislative session. Under the…

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Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would institute a statewide consumer products rule — dubbed the “right to repair” — for electronic devices. LD 1487 — An Act to Ensure That Residents of the State Have the Right to Repair Their Own Electronic Devices — was sponsored by Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) last year and carried over to this legislative session. This bill was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers — primarily comprised of Democrats — including Rep. Kristi Michele Mathieson (D-Kittery), Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), Rep. David Boyer (R-Poland), Rep. Sally Jeane Cluchey (D-Bowdoinham), Rep. Rebecca L.…

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President Joe Biden (D) has received criticism after his campaign officially joined TikTok — the Chinese-controlled social media app widely known to serve as a spyware and influence tool of the Communist Party of China — this week in spite of the oft-cited security concerns surrounding the platform. Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, the app has been subject to heightened scrutiny over data privacy concerns, as Chinese law requires the country’s businesses to share information with the government upon request. Despite this law, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has denied ever having shared U.S. users’ data with the Chinese…

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Elected officials in Maine are considering proposals that would allocate millions of dollars in response to destruction caused by the severe weather events that have swept through the state in recent months. At the end of January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers co-sponsored a bill allocating $50 million to a program that would provide relief to small businesses throughout the state were affected by these “severe weather-related events.” On Friday, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced her intention to introduce legislation distributing $50 million from the “Rainy Day Fund” to the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund in order to “help communities rebuild…

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The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments last week concerning the imposition of vaccine mandates on emergency medical technicians (EMTs) by the Maine Emergency Medical Services (Maine EMS) Board. Attorney Terry Mitrenga — representing the plaintiffs in this case — argued before the Court that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (Maine DHHS) has the sole authority to impose vaccination requirements, as Maine EMS was not given the authority to do so by the Legislature. Sarah Coleman — a state assistant attorney general — argued Tuesday that because Maine EMS is charged with the duty of ensuring…

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Maine has been awarded a $4.4 million from the federal government to improve the “resilience” of the state’s electrical grid, as well as to “support Maine’s climate and clean energy goals.” Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced Friday that $4.4 million in federal funding — sourced from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — will be administered by the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) through the Maine Grid Resilience Program. Among those eligible to receive portions of this funding are electric utilities, electricity generators, and storage operators. “Losing power is not only an inconvenience,” said Gov. Mills in a press release…

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The past few weeks have marked the receipt of several million dollars in federal funding being sent to Maine in support of environmental initiatives primarily aimed at increasing access to electric vehicle (EV) charging and renewable energy in the state. In late January, three members of Maine’s Congressional delegation announced that an Acadia National Park maintenance complex has been award a $1 million grant from the federal government to install rooftop solar panels and EV charging stations. Sen. Angus King (I), Rep. Jared Golden (D), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) published a press release on January 22 reporting that the…

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The United States Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in the case of Trump v. Anderson out of Colorado concerning former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot. That decision will determine whether Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ has the authority to block Trump from appearing on Maine’s ballot. Based on the nature of questions asked during the hearing, including by the Court’s more liberal Justices, it appears the court is leaning in Trump’s favor. Representing the former president was attorney Jonathan Mitchell, and attorney Jason Murray provided legal representation for the respondents.…

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The Maine State Senate rejected a bill Tuesday aimed at extending search warrant requirements to cover a wide range of Mainers’ electronic data, including that which is kept in cloud storage. Although the bill was originally aimed at preventing state entities from collaborating with the federal government to collect Mainers’ personal data in a matter that would otherwise be prohibited by state law, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill to address other related goals during its deliberations. LD 1056 — originally titled An Act Restricting State Assistance in Federal Collection of Personal Electronic Data and Metadata — was introduced by…

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Maine’s child welfare system has frequently come under fire in recent months for its failure to protect the state’s most vulnerable children. The Child Welfare Ombudsman’s 2023 Annual Report describes these continued shortcomings and offers recommendations for improvement. The results of this report were shared with the state legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday and are scheduled to be presented to the Government Oversight Committee this coming Friday. Contracted with the Governor’s Office and overseen by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, the Child Welfare Ombudsman is responsible for assisting Mainers in resolving “concerns and complaints” with Maine’s…

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The Maine Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) Committee held a work session this afternoon to discuss the possibility of having Maine sign onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that could bring about sweeping changes to how the U.S. elects presidents. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, if approved by Maine lawmakers, would award the state’s four electoral votes to whichever candidate garners the most popular votes nationwide, irrespective of who the majority of Mainers voted for at the ballot box. LD 1578 — An Act to Adopt an Interstate Compact to Elect the President of the…

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The First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last Friday declaring that Maine’s laws governing the use and dissemination of the state’s voter rolls are contradictory to — and preempted by — existing federal law. As it is currently written, state law largely prohibits those who obtain a copy of the voter file from sharing and publishing the data it contains, but according to the First Circuit’s ruling, these restrictions violate the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Centered around these statutes as they relate to the dissemination and use of Maine’s voter rolls, is the legal…

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Nearly six months after the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) held its first public hearing on the proposed California-style vehicle emissions standards, a second opportunity for public comment is set to come to a close on Monday, February 5. The controversial policy will advance through the rulemaking process on the heels of a “State of the State” speech in which Gov. Janet Mills touted taxpayer-funded investments in Electric Vehicles (EVs) as a key tool in her fight to lower the planet’s temperatures. According to a BEP spokesperson, the rule will once again receive a public hearing in March. Last…

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Lawmakers in Augusta are set to consider a bill that would provide additional funding to reimburse municipalities for the short-lived Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens program. LD 646 — sponsored by Rep. Melanie F. Sachs (D-Freeport) — was a “placeholder” concept draft carried over from the first legislative session, according to an email sent over the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee’s public listserv Wednesday. An amendment has been proposed that would retitle LD 646 from “An Act to Provide Appropriations and Allocations for the Operations of State Government” to “An Act to Fully Reimburse Municipalities for Lost Revenue Under…

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Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has joined twenty-three other governors in submitting an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recent decisions to loosen restrictions on mifepristone — a drug used in medication abortions — to stand. According to the FDA’s website, mifepristone “blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue.” “Mifepristone, when used together with another medicine called misoprostol, is used to end a pregnancy through ten weeks gestation,” the FDA explains. Mifepristone was first approved by the FDA in 2000 for use in medication abortions…

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Policies governing speech on Maine’s campuses need improvement to protect students’ freedom of speech, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). In the 2024 Spotlight on Speech Codes report released Wednesday, Bowdoin College, Colby College, the University of Maine (UMaine), UMaine at Fort Kent, and UMaine Presque Isle all received a “yellow light” rating for their policies, while Bates College was rated as a “red light” campus. Schools to which FIRE assigned a red light rating were described as “maintain[ing] at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech…

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The Maine State Legislature’s Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) is split on a resolution calling for a national convention under Article V to consider proposing amendments to impose term limits on members of Congress and address issues related to campaign finance. SP 705 — Joint Resolution Making Separate Applications to the Congress of the United States Calling Constitutional Conventions to Consider Representational Integrity and Propose Amendments Establishing Term Limits for Congress and Addressing Campaign Fiance Reform — was introduced during the state’s first legislative session and carried over into this year. The public hearing for SP 705 was…

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A group of Maine lobstermen have asked the United States District Court for the District of Maine to temporarily block state officials from enforcing the controversial requirement that lobstering boats be equipped with a 24-hour location monitoring system. At the beginning of January, five Maine lobstermen filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher, alleging violations of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. A new set of rules that went into effect this past December require all federally permitted lobster boats to be equipped with a 24-hour electronic location monitoring system. These mandated devices…

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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is supporting the effort to approve a $7 billion extension of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP — enacted in Nov. 2021 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — represented a $14.2 billion modification to the existing Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). Under the program, eligible low-income households can receive up to $30 per month off of their internet bill, while households on qualifying Tribal Lands may receive as much as $75 per month. One-time grants are also available for the purchase of laptops, desktop computers, or tablets. Current…

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The College Board has weighed in on two data privacy bills currently under consideration by the Maine Judiciary Committee, urging lawmakers to exempt non-profits from the scope of these provisions. These bills — LD 1973 and LD 1977 — both seek to protect Mainers’ data, but attempt to do so in slightly different ways. In their communications to the Judiciary Committee — which were shared on the Committee’s public listserv — the College Board took issue with both proposals, as neither provided an explicit exemption for non-profit organizations. Both LD 1973 — sponsored by Rep. Lisa Keim (R-Oxford) — and…

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