Maine could collect data on petition signatures under bill 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine could collect data on how ballot campaign groups pay for petition signatures under a bill facing Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. 

A Republican’s bill would require groups to provide the state a list of individuals paid to circulate petitions, and report the “method” of compensation. 

Republicans critical of the influence of out-of-state advocacy groups have fought to reform Maine’s referendum process. Maine voters in recent elections have approved marijuana legalization, Medicaid expansion, minimum wage hikes and a new ranked voting system. 

The bill originally would have banned groups from paying circulators based on how many signatures they collect. 

The Senate sent the bill to Mills Tuesday. 

Mills recently signed a Republican bill requiring public hearings on ballot initiatives.  The Maine Heritage Policy Center called it a “monumental victory for transparency.” 

Lawmakers to vote on $7.98 billion budget in coming days 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s appropriations committee has voted out a two-year budget deal with a sticker price slightly below the governor’s original $8 billion proposal. 

The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee voted 11-1-1 Wednesday on a $7.98 billion budget. 

The budget now faces votes in coming days as lawmakers decide which remaining bills to fund. The budget needs two-thirds votes in both chambers to get to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. 

The Legislature is set to adjourn next week. 

Republican Sen. James Hamper says the deal boosts revenue sharing, the homestead exemption and the property tax fairness credit. 

Mills says no one got everything they wanted, but says she welcomes the bipartisan agreement. 

Mills proposes sending $20 million of expected increased tax revenues into the rainy day fund, in case of economic downturn. 

OSHA proposes nearly $1.8M in fines after roofer’s death 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed nearly $1.8 million in fines for a Maine roofing contractor after an employee died in December. 

An OSHA spokesman told the Portland Press Herald that the fine against Shawn Purvis is one of the largest in New England in recent years. 

Purvis is already facing a manslaughter charge and a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit by the family of Alan Loignon, who fell off a roof in Portland in December. 

Purvis is accused of discouraging the use of safety equipment so his crews could finish jobs faster. 

He contends he cannot force his roofers to use safety gear he provides because they’re self-employed subcontractors. The state’s labor department and a roofing industry group say general contractors are responsible for worksite safety. 

Bill would allow over-the-counter meds in vending machines 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine could allow the sale of non-prescription drugs in vending machines under a bill sitting on the Democratic governor’s desk. 

Supporters hope the bill passed Monday will allow the sale of medications, including the emergency contraception pill known as brand name Plan B. 

The bill calls for the state pharmacy board to adopt regulations to allow a pharmacy to seek a license to sell or distribute nonprescription drugs through a vending machine. 

The amended bill would prevent such vending machines from being located in private schools and public schools and child care facilities. 

The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence’s spokesperson said the bill would help people who don’t seek emergency contraception for fear of partners finding out. 

The bill received pushback from right-to-life groups that oppose such birth control. 


Portland creates emergency shelter for asylum seekers 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s largest city will repurpose a basketball arena as an emergency shelter in anticipation of hundreds of asylum seekers who are headed to the state from the U.S.’s southern border. 

About 100 asylum seekers have arrived in Portland since Sunday. City Manager Jon Jennings says another 150 are expected in the coming week, and many more could follow. Most are arriving from Congo and Angola. 

Jennings says cots will be set up at Portland Expo, the home of the Maine Red Claws. Meals will also be made available. He said the city officials are working with the Red Cross and the state to staff the shelter. 

Jennings said he’s been told by the city manager in San Antonio that there are currently between 1,500 and 2,000 African migrants seeking border asylum. 

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