Gov. Paul LePage is working with the Legislature to make Gold Star license plates available to family members of Mainers who have been killed in military operations.

Rep. Brad Moulton, R-York, sponsored the governor’s bill, L.D. 1529, to make the plates available. Although a similar bill failed in 2009, Moulton has worked with John Mixon of Ogunquit, a Vietnam veteran, to raise money from private sources to cover the cost of making the plates.

Maine is one of only three states that do not offer Gold Star plates, according to the House Republican Office. The bill has been referred to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

During a State House ceremony, LePage told a personal story about his receptionist, Suzanne Brochu, whose son was killed in military action in 2009.

“She’s not only a fantastic public servant, but she’s also one of the families that is being honored here today,” he said.

Then, he told a story about how she handled a caller who was “obviously not a big supporter of mine,” LePage said.

“I can’t stand it. That governor’s on the TV again and I just can’t stand him being all upset hollering and screaming,” the caller said.

“And Suzanne said, ‘Sir, you ought to just change the station.’ “


Robert Marvinney, director of the Maine Geological Survey, will appear on the first episode of a new History Channel program at 10 p.m. Tuesday: “How the States Got Their Shapes,” according to the Department of Conservation.

Marvinney talked about how glaciers helped shape the landscape and why Maine is such a water-rich state.

There’s also a History Channel slide show on Maine, at:


A portrait of former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith spent about two weeks wrapped in plastic because of a leak in the Hall of Flags at the State House, raising concern for a lawmaker from Skowhegan.

Rep. Jeff McCabe, a Democrat, sent a letter to the executive director of the Legislative Council to air his concerns about “this historic painting of Skowhegan’s most famous resident.”

“I believe the painting should have been moved to a secure, dry location to continue being displayed for the public,” he wrote.

A leaky steam coil on the floor above created a small leak, said Maine State Museum Assistant Director Sheila McDonald. The portrait — which shows Smith standing with a folder tucked under one arm and wearing a blue dress, pearls and sensible shoes — was immediately wrapped and was not damaged, she said.

The plastic wrap was removed last week. “The portrait is fine,” she said.

The painting is among a set of portraits in the Hall of Flags that honor Mainers of national significance. It’s one of the few in the State House that depicts a woman. It was painted in 1973 by Willard W. Cummings of Skowhegan.


L.D. 1, the signature measure painstakingly crafted by lawmakers on the Regulatory Fairness and Reform Committee, was approved unanimously by the panel last week.

The committee got off to a rocky start when public pushback on an extensive list of proposals from Gov. Paul LePage overwhelmed its initial work, but the final package garnered support from both sides of the aisle.

Some of the changes proposed by the measure would partially restructure the Board of Environmental Protection, create a small-business advocate in the office of the Secretary of State and create an environmental self-auditing program.

Despite being a top campaign promise for Republicans lawmakers and LePage, only the minority Democrats issued a news release touting its passage.


Maine People Before Politics, a group launched with money left over from the LePage inaugural, released a poll of 500 Mainers last week.

Executive Director Jason Savage, a former Marden’s employee who worked on LePage’s gubernatorial campaign, and Brent Littlefield, a political consultant, held a State House news conference last week to release the results. A snapshot:

“Which political party, Republican or Democrat, do you trust more to solve the problem or issue that you believe should be their highest priority?”

Republican: 27 percent

Democrat: 27 percent

Both equally: 13 percent

Neither: 26 percent

Not sure: 7 percent

“Do you believe Maine state government is facing a spending and debt crisis in part caused by a government employee pension problem?”

Yes: 46 percent

No: 36 percent

Not sure: 18 percent

“Do you believe government employees should share in the sacrifice when it comes to fixing Maine’s budget by agreeing to a cut in pay and giving up some benefits, or do you think they should be exempt from any cuts?”

Share: 61 percent

Exempt: 26 percent

Not sure: 13 percent

The poll was conducted by Tel Opinion Research of Virginia, a firm that works with mostly Republican clients. The survey was done by callers, not an automated system.


The American Lung Association last week released its annual State of the Air report, in which Hancock and York counties received grades of “F” for ozone pollution.

“Maine people are under siege,” said Ed Miller, vice president for health promotion and public policy for the American Lung Association of New England. “We are being barraged by pollution from outside our borders and it’s posing a serious health threat.”

The full report is available at:


The Maine Heritage Policy Center, the Maine Civil Liberties Union and the Maine Press Association have joined together to support L.D. 1465, which would amend the state’s Freedom of Access law.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, would fund a part-time assistant attorney general to mediate disputes between government and citizens who request information, according to the policy center. It also would require all government departments to designate someone from the staff to oversee requests for public records.

The bill will be voted on in committee in the coming weeks.


Elinor Goldberg, known to most as Ellie, retired last week from the Maine Children’s Alliance after creating the organization 17 years ago.

Goldberg was the alliance’s president and CEO from April 1994 to July 2009, when she took on the role of executive vice president, according to the group. In retirement, she plans to volunteer to work on federal issues involving children.

She has other ideas as well: “I plan to spend a lot of time in my garden,” she said in a release from the group.

— MaineToday Media State House Writers Susan M. Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this column