January 30, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

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National secretaries of state choose city for 2015 meeting

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says Portland has been chosen as the host site for the 2015 summer meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

It will be the first time the conference is held in Maine since 2003, when it brought more than 400 people to the Portland area and generated an estimated $500,000 in economic activity for hotels, restaurants and other Maine businesses.

Portland was chosen for the 2015 meeting during the secretaries association's annual winter meeting last weekend in Washington, D.C.

The conference will be held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay from July 17 to July 20, 2015. This year's summer conference will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, and the 2014 summer conference will be held in Baltimore.


Maine DEP ends surcharge on gas, petroleum imports

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has ended an surcharge on gasoline and other petroleum products, saving consumers an estimated $5.5 million this year.

The DEP said improved fiscal management allowed it to stop a 20-cent-per-barrel surcharge on gasoline imported into Maine and a 10-cent surcharge on other petroleum products including home heating oil.

The decision is supported by an independent board that oversees a fund administered by DEP for cleaning up oil discharges from storage tanks.

Funding comes from a 38-cent fee for each barrel of gasoline and a 19-cent fee on all other petroleum products. The extra surcharge that just ended has been in place for seven years to help bolster the fund.


Bills take alternate routes to stop east-west highway

Several bills have been introduced that reflect lawmakers' concerns over the proposed east-west highway, a 230-mile route across Maine that would connect Canadian points. The highway would be operated privately and maintained with tolls.

The bills are being drafted so all of their details are not known. But the titles show one would take away the $300,000 state appropriation for a feasibility study on the massive project, and another would modify that appropriation.

Other bills would restrict the use of eminent domain to protect property owners along the proposed route, and one would create a special commission to oversee further study for an east-west highway.

The Sierra Club-Maine director, Glen Brand, said his group is committed to stopping the highway, and a good way is by legislative action this session.


Nonpartisan group to focus on economy, quality of life

Maine legislative Democrats and Republicans are finding some areas on which they can agree.

In a session that so far has highlighted differences more than areas of agreement, lawmakers from each party have formed a Measures of Growth Caucus. The nonpartisan group will focus on expanding the state's economy and improving Mainers' quality of life.

Republican Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton, one of the founders, said an annual $55,000 "Measures of Growth" report to the Legislature that assesses Maine's economy, communities and environment should be taken into account in the legislative process.

Democratic Rep. Terry Hayes of Buckfield, the other founder, said areas of agreement are more likely to be found when data is used to inform policy discussions, rather than ideology.


Man will serve two years for robbery of pharmacy

An Augusta man has been sentenced to two years in prison for robbing a Walmart pharmacy last year.

Jason Truman pleaded guilty Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to the Nov. 26 robbery. A judge imposed a sentence negotiated between the district attorney's office and Truman's attorney.

The complete sentence was 10 years in prison, with all but two years suspended, and two years of probation. Truman, 33, also was ordered to pay as much as $1,000 restitution.

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