July 11, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

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Two 12-year-old boys were charged separately with arson in the other apartment building fires. In all, about 200 people were displaced by the three fires.

AUGUSTA

Poliquin won't be seeking Republican chairmanship

Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin says he won't be seeking the chairmanship of the Maine Republican Party.

Poliquin made the statement Wednesday to WGAN-AM in Portland. He didn't refer to any other future plans, including the possibility of running for the 2nd Congressional District now that Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud is likely going to challenge Gov. Paul LePage in next year's gubernatorial election.

Last week, Maine Republican Party Chairman Richard Cebra resigned after six months on the job.

Poliquin said at the time that others had approached him about taking the job, and that he was considering it.

 

Democrats name Jackson as majority leader in Senate

The lawmaker from northern Maine who came under attack last month by Gov. Paul LePage is now the top Democrat in the state Senate.

Maine Democrats announced Wednesday that Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash will serve as majority leader following the resignation of former Senate Democratic leader Seth Goodall of Richmond, who has been tapped to serve as New England Regional administrator of the Small Business Administration.

The Republican governor targeted Jackson with a sexually vulgar phrase and said he had a "black heart" after Jackson criticized LePage's proposal to put in place a short-term budget.

Jackson previously served as assistant Senate Democratic leader, a spot that will be filled by Democratic Sen. Anne Haskell of Portland. Democrats say the senators were unchallenged and unanimously elected by their party caucus.

 

Lawmakers fail to agree in battle over bonds for roads

Maine lawmakers have finished their work for the session, but a partisan battle over bonds for the state's roads and bridges remains heated.

The Democratic-led Legislature adjourned early Wednesday morning after a long day of attempting to override vetoes by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. In the session's final hours, LePage and the GOP minority called on Democrats to take up a $100 million borrowing package for things like highway construction.

Democratic leaders rejected the effort and pledged to return this fall to take up a larger bond package that will also include funding for research and development and education, among others.

But Republicans say that by failing to pass the transportation bond before adjourning, Democrats have now put important construction projects at risk.

 

Livermore Falls gets closer to joining Franklin County

Efforts by the town of Livermore Falls to leave Androscoggin County and join Franklin County have taken a step forward.

The Sun Journal reported that in a late vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, lawmakers agreed to allow residents to vote on the issue. If the measure passes, it will then go to voters in both counties.

Supporters say a move makes financial sense. Livermore Falls is on the border between the counties and closer to the Franklin County seat than to the Androscoggin County seat. The town would save money transporting criminal defendants to and from jails and courts.

Opponents, including Lewiston Democratic state Rep. Mike Carey, say Livermore Falls leaving Androscoggin County would hurt the county's tax base and add to Franklin County's costs.

 

Nonprofit agrees to pay $99,100 for improper billing

Bridges of Maine, a private, nonprofit organization that provides services to children and adults with mental disabilities and autism, agreed Wednesday to pay $99,100 to settle claims that it improperly billed MaineCare for services provided by an excluded service provider.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland had filed a complaint against Bridges of Maine, alleging that the organization violated the federal False Claims Act from June 12, 2007 to July 17, 2008 when it billed MaineCare for services provided by a former licensed social worker who had already been excluded from participating in federal health care programs. The civil suit sought damages in the amount of the false claims, as well as penalties.

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