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.

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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The United States Supreme Court vacated an injunction Monday that blocked federal border patrol officials from cutting or removing the razor wire installed by Texas along portions of the Rio Grande River. The Court was split 5-4 on the ruling, with Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh voting in favor of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DPS) request to vacate the injunction. The Supreme Court’s order vacating the injunction was short and offered no explanation of the Justices’ reasoning behind the ruling. Although the Supreme Court has weighed in on this injunction, consideration…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) and Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey have introduced legislation to grant subpoena power to the commission tasked with investigating the mass shooting that occurred last October. The Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston was established by Executive Order on November 9, 2023. At the Commission’s first public meeting on November 20, the members unanimously agreed to proceed with asking the governor to request subpoena power from the legislature in order to “ensure [their] effectiveness and advance [their] goal of transparency.” [RELATED: Mills’ Secretive Lewiston Shooting Commission Has First Meeting] That same…

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[UPDATED: Wednesday evening, the Maine Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to appear on Maine’s presidential ballot.] https://twitter.com/EdTomic/status/1750323689936085150?s=20 Secretary of State Shenna Bellows filed a memorandum Tuesday with the Maine Supreme Court defending her right to appeal the Superior Court’s decision ordering her to revisit the removal of former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot after the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter. The memorandum also asks the Maine Supreme Court to consider the merits of the case at this stage in…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) has officially come out in support of an amendment to the state’s constitution that would codify the right to abortion access in Maine, a move that comes less than a year after she signed legislation permitting late-term abortions in the state. Gov. Mills embraced both changes to Maine’s abortion laws despite promising multiple times during her re-election bid against former Republican Gov. Paul LePage that she would seek no changes to Maine’s abortion restrictions. If approved, the proposed amendment would declare that “every person has a right to reproductive autonomy” that may not be “den[ied] or…

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Many Mainers turned out to the State House Monday to make their voices heard at the Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on a resolution proposing an amendment to Maine’s State Constitution that would enshrine a right to abortion in the state. The Committee’s hearing for the bill coincided with the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a key opinion for the constitutional protection of abortion that was overturned in 2022 with the Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which returned the issue of abortion regulation to the states. The bill proposing the amendment…

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On Monday, January 22, lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing for a proposed amendment to Maine’s constitution that would enshrine a right to abortion in the state. As currently drafted, the proposed amendment would guarantee that “every person has a right to personal reproductive autonomy” and would prohibit the state from “deny[ing] or infring[ing]” upon that right. The bill proposing the amendment — LD 780, sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) — was introduced during the 131st Legislature’s first session and carried over into this year, the session that typically deals with emergency measures. The full…

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Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has appealed the Kennebec County Superior Court’s ruling in the case concerning former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s primary ballot to the Maine Supreme Court. The Superior Court ruled Monday that Secretary Bellows must revisit her December decision blocking former President Trump from the ballot after the Supreme Court weighs in on Trump v. Anderson, a case concerning the former president’s eligibility to appear on Colorado’s presidential primary ballot later this year. [RELATED: Maine Court Orders Secretary of State Bellows to Revisit Trump’s Ballot Eligibility After SCOTUS Decides Colorado Case] Friday,…

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The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Thursday that it will be making “structural changes” to the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew appointed Bobbi Johnson — who had served as the Acting Director of OCFS following the resignation of Todd Landry last November — to serve as the office’s permanent Director, According to a Thursday press release from DHHS, Director Johnson will launch a “management review” of the Child Welfare Division of OCFS that will “examine the organization of the Child Welfare Division’s Central and District Offices, its communication processes, culture,…

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A bill aimed at decriminalizing drugs and related paraphernalia, as well as expanding support for and access to addiction treatment services, was at the center of a public hearing held Wednesday by the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Health and Human Services. More than four hours worth of testimony concerning the legislation was offered by lawmakers and members of the public, while even more testimony was submitted to the Committee after the fact. Support for and opposition to the legislation largely came down to a fundamental disagreement over the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of drug addiction in Maine…

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The Maine Superior Court on Wednesday ordered Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to revisit her decision blocking former President Donald Trump from Maine’s primary ballot pending the Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in a similar case out of Colorado. Secretary Bellows will need to release her updated ruling within thirty days of the Supreme Court publishing its ruling in Trump v. Anderson, a case concerning former President Trump’s eligibility to appear on Colorado’s presidential primary ballot later this year. [RELATED: Trump Asks Maine Superior Court to Postpone Proceedings Until SCOTUS Issues Ruling] “Because many of the issues presented in…

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The United States Supreme Court is set to consider Wednesday a pair of cases that have the potential to redefine the standards for judicial review of rules and regulations adopted by government agencies. Since 1984, judicial deference has been given to government agencies in their interpretation of ambiguous statutes guiding their rulemaking under a standard known as the Chevron doctrine. The Court is now poised to either overturn, curtail, or clarify this doctrine, determining how this frequently cited and oft relied upon framework will be understood by those throughout the government going forward. Depending how the Justices approach their ruling,…

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Lawmakers in Augusta are considering Wednesday a bill that would decriminalize the possession of drugs and related paraphernalia, including LD 1975 — “An Act to Implement a Statewide Public Health Response to Substance Use and Amend the Laws Governing Scheduled Drugs” — was sponsored by Rep. Lydia V. Crafts (D-Newcastle) last year and carried over into this session. Most notably, this bill would repeal state statutes criminalizing the possession of schedule W, X, Y, and Z drugs as defined by Maine state law, as well as drug paraphernalia. Schedules W, X, Y, and Z cover all controlled substances in the…

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Former President Donald Trump quickly emerged as the winner of Monday night’s Republican caucuses in Iowa, while entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his presidential campaign after finishing fourth in the state. At 8:31pm Monday night, the Associated Press (AP) declared former President Trump as the winner of the caucuses, determining that he had an “insurmountable lead” after receiving more than half of the votes cast across eight of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties. According to the AP, these eight counties were “demographically and politically similar to a large number of counties” that had not yet reported their results. As votes came…

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The Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT) announced Thursday that Maine will be receiving a $15 million taxpayer-funded grant from the Biden Administration to install electric vehicle (EV) chargers throughout the state. The funding for the Maine DOT’s “Recharge Maine Project” comes from the federal government’s Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, a new $2.5 billion initiative included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This newest batch of grants, which were awarded to forty-seven projects throughout the country, totaled $622.57 million and were spread across twenty-two states, as well as Puerto Rico. According to the project narrative published by…

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The Supreme Court is scheduled next month to hear a pair of cases concerning the constitutionality of laws in Florida and Texas prohibiting social media platforms from censoring users’ content. In February, the Justices will hear oral arguments for both Moody v. NetChoice, LLC and NetChoice, LLC v. Paxton. NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association– parties in both of these cases, referred to jointly as NetChoice — are trade associations that represent social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google (which owns YouTube), and TikTok. Following a district court decision in favor of NetChoice — and a subsequent affirmation…

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The three citizen initiatives approved by voters in November of 2023 officially went into effect last Friday, all of which were approved by a fairly substantial portion of Mainers at the ballot box. In Maine — under Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 of the Maine Constitution — voters are able to directly petition the Legislature to consider bills and resolutions, and unless passed by lawmakers “without change,” citizens are given the opportunity to decide on its fate at the polls. When these bills go before the Legislature, they are referred to as initiated bills (IBs) and are assigned both…

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Former President Donald Trump has asked the Maine Superior Court to consider evidence that Secretary of State Shenna Bellows allegedly had undisclosed “personal and professional” relationships with Ethan Strimling and Thomas Saviello — two of the individuals who initiated challenges against his eligibility to appear on the ballot in Maine. According to former President Trump, these connections served, at a minimum, to give the “appearance of impropriety” surrounding her decision to remove him from the state’s primary ballot. [RELATED: Shenna Bellows Once Worked for Non-Profit Run by Portland Socialist Who Filed Trump Complaint…] Trump filed a Jan. 8 motion to…

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The majority of Mainers feel that “partisan politics” factored into Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ decision to disqualify former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot, and half of the state has expressed opposition to her decision, according to a poll conducted recently by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center. When taking a closer look at the data, Mainers appear largely divided along partisan lines in their responses, while Independents and self-described moderates are closely split. On many of the key questions included in the survey, such as support for Bellows’ ruling and the perceived…

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Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, as well as Kimberly Rosen, Thomas Saviello, and former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, have responded to former President Donald Trump’s motion to stay filed with the Maine Superior Court on Monday. On January 5, the Supreme Court granted cert for former President Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to block him from the state’s ballot. In light of this, the former president requested that the Maine Superior Court postpone its consideration of Secretary Bellows’ decision on the same question until after the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter. [RELATED: Bellows Boots…

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The Maine House of Representatives today voted 60-80 against initiating an impeachment inquiry into Secretary of State Shenna Bellows for barring former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot. UPDATE:The effort to impeach Maine's Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has FAILED, with the House voting 60-80 in opposition. pic.twitter.com/Vfw0RsMK3B— The Maine Wire (@TheMaineWire) January 9, 2024 Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris) filed a resolution last week that, if approved, would have initiated an impeachment inquiry into the Secretary. Sponsored by Rep. Andrews, the resolution stated that impeachment action was being brought against Secretary Bellows due to “grave and serious…

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On Friday, the Supreme Court granted cert for former President Donald Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to block him from the state’s ballot. In light of this, the former president has now requested that the Maine Superior Court postpone its consideration of Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ decision on the same question until after the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter. Filed Sunday, the motion to stay argues that because the issues currently pending before the Supreme Court closely mirror those set to be considered by Maine’s Superior Court, the state court ought to postpone consideration…

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Maine’s electoral college votes may soon be poised to go toward the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections — regardless of who Mainers choose to support 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 — sponsored by Rep. Arthur L. Bell (D-Yarmouth) was introduced during the first legislative session and carried over to this year. 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…

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday granted former President Donald Trump’s request to review the Colorado Supreme Court’s December ruling that he is ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot. On January 5, just two days after the former president filed his writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court granted cert. In a brief memo, the Court announced that oral arguments in the case are scheduled for February 8, 2024. Former President Trump’s brief and any amicus briefs in his favor case — as well as those in support of neither party — are due to the Court by Jan.…

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Town clerks in Maine have raised concerns about the practices employed by No Labels in their effort to register voters in the state, and at least one voter — a selectman in Clifton — has said his signature was forged on registration documents. On Friday, No Labels was officially recognized as a “qualified party” in Maine — opening the door for them to host a candidate on the state’s ballot. Allegations that No Labels has deceived voters into switching their registration to the fledgling party, however, have resurfaced on an email listserv used by Maine’s municipal employees, according to copies…

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No Labels has officially gained access to Maine’s ballot after surpassing the state’s registration threshold for certification. 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.” In order to be recognized as a “qualified party” in Maine — a prerequisite to appearing on the state’s ballot — a group must enroll at least 5,000 registered voters statewide. According to a press release issued by No Labels on Friday, the party currently…

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A group of five Maine lobstermen are suing Maine Department of Marine Fisheries (MDMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher over new rules mandating that all federally permitted lobster boats be equipped with a 24-hour electronic location monitoring system. These mandated devices — provided by the MDMR — identify a vessel’s location every sixty seconds while in motion and once every six hours when stationary. Using one of these devices, a boat’s position is able to be accurately determined within 100 meters, or 328.1 feet. According to the lobstermen, this new requirement violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as they allege that it…

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Several lawsuits have been filed against OpenAI — the developer behind ChatGPT — and Microsoft for their allegedly unlawful use of copyrighted work to train generative artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI is a technology that is able to produce content such as prose, images, and audio files. To do this, generative AI programs rely upon large-language models (LLMs) that are trained using vast amounts of existing data until it is able to correctly predict what comes next in a given piece of source material with a high rate of accuracy. Whether or not the use of copyrighted materials in this…

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Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris) has filed a resolution that, if approved, would initiate an impeachment inquiry against Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows on account of her ruling last week to bar former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot. Sponsored by Rep. Andrews, the resolution states that impeachment action is being brought against Secretary Bellows due to “grave and serious allegations” concerning her conduct. The resolution orders that a House Special Investigative Committee be “established to investigate allegations of misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and other misconduct” by Bellows. “The committee shall conduct a comprehensive review of allegations of…

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As of January 1, private health insurance providers in Maine were no longer allowed to subject abortion coverage to cost-sharing requirements such as deductibles and co-pays. Signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills (D) over the summer — alongside a number of other abortion-related bills — LD 935 prohibits private insurers from imposing “deductible, copayment, coinsurance or other cost-sharing requirement” on those seeking an abortion. Sponsored by Rep. Matt Moonen (D-Portland), LD 935 was approved by a roll call vote of 75-67 in the House and 22-12 in the Senate. “The reality is that few people have the savings to…

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Former President Donald Trump has appealed the ruling issued last week by Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to remove his name from the state’s primary ballot in 2024. Secretary Bellows argued in her decision that former President Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021 and is thereby disqualified from serving as President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment 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,…

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The United States Navy has appropriated $34 million for six new workforce initiatives at Bath Iron Works (BIW) as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Appropriations bill. This inclusion came at the request of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) as part of a larger effort to improve the infrastructure at shipyards responsible for building the Navy’s destroyers. “The crews of the Bath-built DDG-51 destroyers defending commercial shipping in the Red Sea today serve as vivid reminders of how important it is that the United States maintain a robust shipbuilding capability to support the U.S. Navy,” Sen. Collins said in a…

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The Republican candidates vying for a chance to run against U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s conservative 2nd Congressional District are calling on Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to resign or be impeached following her controversial decision to rule former President Donald Trump ineligible for election in Maine. Rep. Michael Soboleski (R-Phillips) and Rep. Austin L. Theriault (R-Fort Kent) have both come out in staunch opposition to Secretary Bellows for her ruling on the challenges to former President’s Trump’s eligibility to appear on Maine’s ballot, as both look to capitalize on a decision that angered Trump voters through northern…

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The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (Maine DEP) has told the Maine Wire that reporting from the Portland Press Herald about a pending emissions mandate is inaccurate. According to the Maine DEP — and contrary to Wednesday’s report from the Press Herald — Maine lawmakers will not have the opportunity to vote on whether Maine should adopt a set of controversial rules that will mandate electric vehicle sales in Maine. Deputy Commissioner of the Maine DEP David R. Madore told the Maine Wire that, “regretfully,” the article published by the Press Herald earlier this week “is inaccurate.” “The Board of…

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Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has blocked former President Donald Trump from appearing on Maine’s primary ballot next year. Secretary Bellows argues in her decision that former President Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021 and is thereby disqualified from serving as President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. On these grounds, the Secretary concluded that the former president’s “primary petition is invalid,” consequently preventing him from appearing on the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot in Maine. “Specifically, the Secretary ruled that the declaration on his candidate consent form is false because he is not qualified to…

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The Colorado Republican Party has officially asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the Colorado Republican primary ballot next year, a request that sets the table for the highest court to settle a debate unfolding in several states, including Maine. The Colorado Republican Party filed a writ of certiorari Thursday asking the SCOTUS to overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision to block former President Trump from appearing on the ballot in the Colorado presidential primary. As a result of this appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision has been stayed — meaning that…

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The South Portland Board of Education is considering ways to improve “diversity” and reduce racial and socioeconomic “segregation” across the City’s five elementary schools. During a Board meeting earlier this month, the Elementary Boundaries and Configurations Steering Committee presented several suggestions aimed at achieving this goal, most of which would involve a significant restructuring of the City’s elementary school system. At the beginning of this year, the Committee was tasked by the School Board with conducting “a transparent, collaborative community process to review current school grade-level configurations, school catchment areas, and the possibility of Pre-K expansion.” Meeting for the first…

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Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has delayed issuing a decision on former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot following the Colorado Supreme Court decision earlier this week. Originally, Secretary Bellows was expected to make a determination by the end of the day on Friday, December 22, but according to a statement shared with the press, she will now be announcing her decision early next week. During an eight-hour hearing held this past Friday, the Secretary heard arguments from the three parties challenging the former Pres. Trump’s ability to appear on Maine’s presidential primary…

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The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (Maine BEP) has delayed voting on the set of controversial California-style vehicle emissions regulations until sometime next year. These rules — known as the Advanced Clean Cars II Program — were set to mandate that 43 percent of new cars sold in Maine be electric vehicles (EVs) by model year 2027 and 82 percent by model year 2032. Wednesday night, the BEP announced that it would be postponing their meeting Thursday — during which they were scheduled to vote on the proposed EV mandate — due to Gov. Janet Mills’ Civil State of Emergency…

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Almost half of Mainers — 44 percent — say they will spend less on Christmas presents this year than they did last year, according to a new poll from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center. The gloomy survey result is yet another indication that Maine’s economy, despite the persistently low unemployment rate, isn’t exactly prospering. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated that they would be spending about the same as last year, while only 8 percent of Mainers said they would be spending more this Christmas. Southern Mainers had the most positive expectations for spending this season — with…

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Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced this week that six educational institutions in Maine will be receiving a combined total of nearly $1 million to “recruit, train and retain” educators. The institutions set to receive these grants include: Brunswick School Department ($105,000); MSAD 1 ($75,000); RSU 34 ($249,000); Portland Public Schools ($250,000); University of Maine Farmington ($144,000); and University of Southern Maine ($162,000). All together, these six schools were given a total of $985,000. $375,000 of this was funded by the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan — Gov. Mills’ plan to invest nearly $1 billion in federal funding that was intended…

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The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (Maine BEP) has postponed its expected vote on the controversial California-style vehicle emissions regulations, a package of rules that would eventually all but ban the sale of new traditional gas-powered cars and trucks in Maine. This comes as a direct result of Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) Civil State of Emergency declaration on December 19 that was issued in response to the deadly and destructive storm that took place on Monday. Originally scheduled for Thursday, December 21, the Maine BEP has postponed its meeting to an as-of-yet unknown date. More information on the new date…

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The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Tuesday that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot in 2024, marking the first time in United States history that Section Three of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate. Section Three of the 14th Amendment states: 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 oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of…

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Google has reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by all of the attorneys general in the U.S. — including Maine’s Attorney General Aaron Frey — concerning allegations of anti-competitive policies surrounding the Google Play Store, the company announced Monday. Although the parties reached this settlement back in September, the details of the agreement are only now being made public as the result of filings submitted by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The $700 million settlement with the tech giant consists of $630 million in restitution payments to customers who were impacted by the practices under scrutiny in the lawsuit. An…

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Maine has received more than $17 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve data on the North American Right Whale (NARW) that is used to set industry regulations, according to a press release published earlier in December. This federal funding comes just months after the federal court of appeals ruled in favor of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) in their lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — a subagency of NOAA — for adopting improperly-founded regulations against the industry. In September of 2021, the MLA filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging that their…

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The Maine Secretary of State’s Office held an eight-hour hearing last Friday concerning former President Donald Trump’s (R) ability to appear on the state ballot in 2024 after receiving three challenges last week, including one from former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling. Also challenging the former president’s ability to appear on Maine’s primary ballot in 2024 were Portland attorney Paul Gordon and resident Mary Anne Royal. In response to these challenges, Rep. Mike Sobeleski (R-Phillips) filed a letter of intervention in defense of the former president, allowing him to speak at Friday’s hearing in favor of former President Trump’s eligibility to…

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Following a period of public confusion, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially announced on Friday that the “winter energy relief payments” received by Mainers earlier this year will be exempt from federal taxation. During a scheduled phone call between the IRS and the Maine Revenue Service (MRS) on December 7, the IRS reportedly indicated that these $450 payments would be subjected to federal tax — an apparent reversal of their previous guidance. Several months earlier, the MRS submitted Ruling Requests to the IRS while these payments were still being deliberated by the legislature in order to better understand whether or…

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The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (Maine BEP) has now officially responded to the thousand-plus public comments it received on the controversial, California-style vehicle emissions regulations currently up for adoption by the Board. Known as the Advanced Clean Cars II Program, these rules would require that 43 percent of new cars sold in Maine be zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by model year 2027 and 82 percent by model year 2032. After receiving 1,084 pieces of public comment concerning these proposed regulations, the Maine BEP published an extensive 36-page document responding to all the arguments that were made and the concerns that…

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Walk a Mile in Their Shoes (WAMITS) — a non-profit founded by former Democratic state senator Bill Diamond — released an extensive report Tuesday detailing how the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (Maine DHHS) is failing the state’s most vulnerable children — and what can be done about it. This report is the culmination of a series of listening sessions held throughout the state in recent months with those know first hand what’s happening on the ground in these situations — including “current and former caseworkers, foster parents, childcare providers, educators, law enforcement officials, and others who interact…

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Both members of Maine’s delegation to the House of Representatives have signed onto a partisan letter requesting a $1.6 billion increase in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Signed by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), alongside 113 other members of Congress, the letter asks the House leadership to include an extra $1.6 billion in funding for LIHEAP “in any government funding package, to reflect the President’s FY24 emergency supplemental funding request.” No Republican members of the House signed their name to the request. Managed by…

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Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has signed onto an amicus brief in favor of upholding California’s long-controversial ban on large-capacity magazines. As part of the most recent development in a legal saga dating back to 2017, Attorney General Frey has joined a cohort of nineteen states, plus the District of Columbia, in advocating for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of California’s ban. California’s Large-Capacity Magazine Ban The California state law at the heart of this legal controversy creates a “criminal liability” for “any person…who manufacturers or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale,…

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Last night, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions standards for new vehicles — and Maine’s delegation was split. The bill approved by a margin of 221 to 197 would specifically prohibit the EPA from (1) mandating the use of any specific technology and (2) approving rules that would result in the limitation of new vehicles based on engine type. The EPA would also be blocked from “finalizing, implementing, or enforcing the proposed rule titled Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and…

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The Maine Public Utilities Commission (Maine PUC) is scheduled to hold two public witness hearings this month concerning Central Maine Power’s (CMP’s) alleged overspending on storm cleanup efforts in 2022. According to testimony filed earlier this year by the Office of the Public Advocate, CMP has been accused of overspending on staffing for twelve of the twenty-three storms that took place last year. By failing to follow the staffing guidelines in its Emergency Response Plan when managing storm costs in 2022, CMP “imprudently incurred” excessive costs that should not need to be reimbursed by ratepayers, Jesse Houck — an economic…

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