Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Key figure in N.J. traffic scandal surfaces for hearing
A lawyer says Bridget Kelly, the former Christie aide at the center of a plot to block traffic near the George Washington Bridge, wanted to show she’s not hiding.
Gov. LePage’s drug fight puts focus on hunting down dealers
He calls for adding 22 people to law enforcement and prosecution, but critics believe treatment and prevention are better strategies.
Bill Nemitz: Senator’s health-care suggestion may hurt those who listen
I just came across what looks like a conspiracy to commit 'welfare fraud' and I can’t wait to alert the ranking Republican in the Maine Legislature.
Republicans offer option to growing MaineCare
The lawmakers, who have long opposed President Obama’s signature health insurance law, are now promoting one of its main provisions.
Obama hams it up for health care on Funny or Die
Host Zach Galifianakis apparently is one of the young Americans uninterested in Healthcare.gov.
LePage proposes tax-cut referendum for June
Democrats pan the proposal – which calls for $100 million in unspecified cuts – as an election-year gimmick.
Former IRS official led scrutiny of conservative groups, report claims
She also obstructed a House panel’s investigation, its chairman says.
Maine House OKs Veterans Treatment Court bill
The measure pays for a part-time prosecutor and provides for the program’s possible expansion.
Maine panel OKs bill to let businesses hold fundraisers
The proposal would allow them to help charities and people in need without registering as nonprofits.
Maine corrections chief Joseph Ponte to head NYC jails
His departure creates uncertainty about the future direction of the state’s Department of Corrections.
Democrats clock all-nighter with climate talk
Addressing a nearly empty chamber and visitor gallery, more than two dozen speakers agreed with each other about the need to act on climate change.
LePage to offer plan to expand Maine's 'War on Drugs'
The proposal calls for four new judges, 14 agents and four assistant attorneys general for drug cases.
Proponents of MaineCare expansion seek boost from hospitals
Republicans pushed the hospital debt bill last year, but some now question hospitals' claims that expansion will ease their financial burdens.
LePage: Use big incentives to attract jobs to Maine
His proposal to offer massive tax breaks to lure businesses also includes a controversial exemption from collective bargaining.
Obama conservation push includes California coast
The White House announces that the president will designate a stretch of the Mendicino coastline a national monument.
Rand Paul wins CPAC presidential straw poll
The overwhelming win is purely symbolic, but reflects the Republican senator’s popularity among conservatives.
State House Notebook: As Medicaid vote looms, speculation shifts to campaign advantage
Also: Ugly Twitter fight reveals battle for Republican voice.
Gov. LePage to lay out business zone proposal
The proposal includes tax benefits and discounted electricity rates for companies that invest at least $50 million and create 1,500 jobs.
Washington state leads minimum wage hike
Opponents of a minimum wage increase in the state warned that it would kill jobs. But that hasn’t happened.
Assange: More U.S. secrets will be leaked
The Wikileaks founder tells a U.S. audience, via video feed, that NSA spying revelations have caused people to reassess government’s role.
Ky. bill would let Rand Paul run for 2 offices at same time
The Republican senator and tea party favorite is seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016.
Maine's senators split on military sex assault measure
Susan Collins was a co-sponsor of the bill, while Angus King supported a competing but less-sweeping measure.
Mississippi debates religious-freedom legislation
Much like Arizona’s recently vetoed proposal, the bill is seen by some as a license to discriminate against gays – a view its proponents dismiss.
Maine treasurer urges LePage to release bonds
In a letter to the governor, Neria Douglass says not selling the bonds will hurt the state’s finances.
LePage vetoes state-run virtual school bill
The governor, citing a provision halting virtual charter schools, rejects the proposal within hours of its final passage in the Senate.
Legislative committee rejects Maine mining rules
Democrats and environmental groups applaud the vote, citing pollution concerns.
Bill revived to allow slots at Scarborough Downs – and maybe a resort casino
A bid to spike the proposal was defeated, 78-62, in a preliminary vote.
Senate blocks change to military sexual assault cases
The decision leaves in the hands of commanders the power to prosecute rape and other serious crimes.
Bill to create dental therapists advances in Maine Legislature
An amended version of the bill strengthens dentists’ supervisory role.
Maine’s Sen. Collins submits nominating petitions
A campaign official says Collins’ ability to collect signatures in all 16 counties was an early test of her field organization.
Details emerge for LePage plan to replenish Maine's rainy day fund
The governor said he hopes lawmakers will back his idea for replenishing the fund, which is set aside to cover budget shortfalls or other unplanned expenses.
Maine lawmakers vote to cancel LePage consultant’s contract
The Alexander Group won a $925,000 no-bid contract to look at a number of issues, with its first report recommending against Medicaid expansion.
Obama turns up heat on minimum wage
With the governors of four New England states behind him, the president rallies a crowd in Connecticut.
Early-voting measure falls short in Maine House
Lawmakers voted 87-57 in favor of the bill, but united Republicans prevent the issue from being sent to voters.
Clinton again blasts Putin after her Hitler remark
Russian President Vladimir Putin is a tough but thin-skinned leader who is squandering his country’s potential, she says.
Senate blocks Obama civil rights nominee
Debo Adegbile is doomed, even among Democrats, by his ties to the defense of a ‘cop killer’ in 2006.
Senate showdown looms on bill to curb sex assault in military
The legislation would take away the authority of senior commanders to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses.
Consumers can keep substandard health plans into 2017, administration says
The announcement will affect about 1.5 million people who have insurance plans that currently don't meet the minimum standards.
Maine rejects bill banning replica guns in schools
Critics said creating a new crime isn’t the answer and would funnel young people from schools to jails.
DHHS ousts superintendent at troubled Riverview Psychiatric Center
Mary Louise McEwen’s departure comes after the hospital was scrutinized for its handling of dangerous patients and lost $20 million in federal funding.
Davis, Abbott set to face off for Texas governor
George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, easily won the nomination for land commissioner in his political debut.
Obama’s budget focuses on jobs, income gap, higher taxes on wealthy
Economic programs drive the $3.9 trillion plan, but many will go nowhere in a congressional election year with a Republican House.
LePage slams Democrats over revenue-sharing bill
The majority of Republicans also supported the bill. The governor promises a new bill to replenish the rainy day fund.
Republican group shows support for gay marriage, citing freedom
The group of 20 is led by former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum.
Maine bill would ban companies from selling student data
The proposal would prevent cloud computing services from using private information.
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith announces bid for his old N.H. seat
He is among several Republicans competing for a chance to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Obama budget: An agency-by-agency breakdown
Some gain, some lose in the president’s proposal.
MaineCare expansion compromise limps to floor votes
Despite being sponsored by two Republicans, the Democrat-supported bill can only muster a 7-5 party-line vote in committee and may struggle to win a veto-proof majority.
Michaud, Cutler, LePage offer differing views on virtual charter schools
The three candidates for governor wade in on expanding online educational opportunities in Maine
Maine’s members of Congress eye next steps in Ukraine crisis
Both senators and both representatives call for caution in the U.S. response to Russia’s military involvement.
Bill won’t allow Windham prison guards to use deadly force to halt escapes
A legislative committee removes a provision that would have allowed Maine Correctional Center officers to shoot fleeing prisoners.
State House Notebook: Legislature to fly solo in drafting budget solutions
Also: Medicaid expansion vote on tap / Jackson, LePage at it again.
Washington Notebook: Sen. King follows in footsteps of Smith, Muskie, Washington
The Maine senator delivers George Washington’s 'Farewell Address' in the Senate chamber.
LePage takes advantage of bully pulpit in governor's race
On the trail or not, the governor uses the power of the incumbency to control the message. Meanwhile, his rivals look for other ways to muscle into contention.
Bill Nemitz: Shawn Moody still has appeal, especially to candidates
The former independent candidate for governor keeps his friends from 2010 guessing about whom he will support this year.
Maine panel split over federal probe criticizing LePage
Lawmakers divide by party in their responses to the federal probe of Maine’s unemployment appeals.
Bill Clinton aides raised concerns about health fight
Previously confidential documents offer insight into first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in the failed overhaul.
Maine House fails to pass in-person early voting amendment
The House votes 87-57 in favor of the bill, but falls short of the two-thirds majority needed.
Dan Demeritt: EPA’s proposed wood-heater rules a hot issue for Maine
Republicans could milk them in the run-up to November’s election.
Gay marriage ban divides old friends
Texas’ attorney general is defending the state’s ban, which his gay friend challenged in court.
Bill Nemitz: MaineCare cannibals on the loose. Run for it!
Gov. LePage fights expansion of health care for the poor with scare tactics worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.
Maine panel to probe DHHS inaction on child-abuse reports
Legislators respond to accounts of day care reports being ignored by managers for months.
Federal review: LePage put fair hearings at risk
A federal official says a Blaine House meeting and other state actions could be viewed as efforts to sway jobless aid rulings. The governor says that has ‘no basis in fact.’
Christie aides joked about using traffic jams against local rabbi
The revelations are the latest in an ongoing controversy involving the governor's staff.
Political rivals blast LePage over federal findings
They call him a bully and intimidator, but the governor's allies say he was trying to fix problems and suggest political motives.
Disputes derail veteran benefits bill in Senate
Republicans object to paying for the bill with funds saved by the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Maine panel endorses changes to troubled MaineCare rides system
The bill would make it easier for local nonprofits to win contracts in hopes of fixing the rides-for-poor program.
Singer Clay Aiken files paperwork for congressional run
He must first try to win the Democratic primary in North Carolina's 2nd District.
Arizona governor vetoes bill seen as attack on gays
Cheers erupt as she announces her decision on SB 1062, saying the religious-freedom bill ‘could divide Arizona.’
Maine lawmaker says he regrets comments on rape, gays
Republican Lawrence Lockman is under fire after a liberal activist’s blog post details his comments on AIDS, rape and abortion.
Trump: Christie will move past scandals
Trump says he's seen no evidence that Republican donors are shying away from the governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate.
Bill Clinton presidential documents released by National Archives
Papers related to his failed health care reform proposal could provide insight into Hillary Rodham Clinton.
LePage officials: Medicaid expansion will hurt state
The governor's anti-expansion campaign continues with testimony from agency chiefs on Wednesday.
Rep. Pingree leads national drive to stop Comcast/Time Warner merger
She says the merger of Comcast and Time Warner makes her worry that consumers will pay higher prices and get fewer choices.
Texas judge strikes down state's gay-marriage ban
He says that the ban is unconstitutional but will let the law be enforced pending an appeal.
No LePage veto means no cut in Maine municipal aid
The governor has withheld bonds over the controversial bill, but he lets it become law.
Broad veterans’ benefits debated in U.S. Senate
The bill would expand services and includes a provision named for Maine veteran Ruth Moore.
New MaineCare expansion plan seeks consensus in Augusta
A key Republican says his proposal is bipartisan, covers 60,000 more people, provides an economic boost, takes advantage of federal funding and includes cost controls through managed care.
Congress reluctant to cut military’s size
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s vision for a smaller fighting force faces a rocky path in an election year.
Proposal for state-run virtual school wins preliminary approval
The House backs a measure that would also place a moratorium on private online schools.
Obama, Boehner meet for hour at White House
Issues included manufacturing, immigration, Obama’s health care law and Afghanistan, among others.
Panel: MaineCare expansion no conflict for House speaker
Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, sought the opinion after 26 Republicans asked him to recuse himself from votes and debate.
Dingell, longest-serving congressman, to retire
The Michigan Democrat, who was elected in 1955, quickly earned a reputation for being one of Washington's sharpest government watchdogs.
Let police, public give lifesaving drug, Maine panel says
In a party-line vote, the panel endorses a bill to expand who can administer naloxone in an opiate overdose emergency.
Bill would alter payments for virtual Maine charter schools
A legislator says the state shouldn’t pay as much for online students because the true cost is likely lower.
Governors erupt in partisan dispute at White House
After meeting with Obama, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal criticizes the president and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls Jindal a ‘cheap shot artist.’
Governors to offer alternative to shrinking Army National Guard
Led by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, the group hopes to lessen the losses.
Fiery debate continues over proposed Maine mining rules
Business groups and the LePage administration see economic opportunity, but others fear heavy pollution, including near J.D. Irving’s Bald Mountain.
Governors: ‘Obamacare’ here to stay
Governors of both parties shared a more pragmatic outlook on the controversial program known as “Obamacare” as millions of their constituents begin to be covered.
Maine bills seek clarity on hospitals left out of insurance networks
The sponsors want patients who sign up for Obamacare and the providers to be fully informed of exclusions like those not in Anthem’s network.
Collins challenger among candidates who see potent weapon in surveillance issue
Opposition to domestic spying appeals to a range of congressional hopefuls, from progressives to tea partiers.
Washington Notebook: Sens. Collins, King could cast key votes on release of secret report
The document has been described as a scathing indictment of the CIA’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques.
Panel gives restaurant inspections another look
Lawmakers reject a bill to allow municipal monitoring and ask the state to report back on costs of adding annual oversight.
Maverick freshman Maine legislator won’t seek re-election
Corey Wilson of Augusta is a visible Republican presence, especially on issues involving guns, veterans and health care.
Nugent backlash reveals rare misstep for Texas Republicans
The brash gun-rights guitarist’s comments about Obama and immigrants have put Republican Greg Abbott on the defensive in the race for governor.
Legislature to subpoena CDC officials in document shredding probe
The Government Oversight Committee votes to issue subpoenas after administration officials decline to answer questions about ordering an employee to shred documents relating to a grant program.
LePage, critics spar over tax burden after report puts Portland in the U.S. Top 10
LePage says he reduced income taxes for low-income residents of ‘the liberals’ flagship city,’ but critics say revenue-sharing cuts raised property taxes.
GOP drafting bill to ease flood insurance hikes
Projections of premium increases in the current law have panicked coastal residents.
Maine House follows Senate in rejecting ‘religious freedom’ bill
The bill sought to affirm constitutional protection for the right to worship, but opponents say it was unneeded and would open the door to legal discrimination.