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Maine News

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Maine News for Thursday, January 3, 2008


As session convenes, big issues hold sway
Short ceremonies are followed by a committee meetingoncuts aimed at balancing the budget.

Cross country case at standstill, police say
Officers investigating a claim that a man threw something in the eyes of a runner at a high school cross country meet have no leads, even after reviewing 3,500 videos and photos from the competition.

Maine joins suit over auto emissions
Maine joined California and 15 other states and sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday for preventing the states from setting greenhouse gas limits for vehicles.

Audit alleges Medicaid mistakes
A federal audit says that Maine overcharged the Medicaid program, which is funded jointly by the state and federal governments, by $44.2 million in 2002 and 2003 and that the state should reimburse the federal government $29.7 million for its share.

Push made to post court data on Web
Maine's judicial branch aims to make documents available while protecting privacy.

Unisys picked to handle MaineCare computers
The move will displace about 100 state jobs, but many people may be hired by the contractor.

EDITORIAL: NASA air-safety report should be fully available
The agency's actions reek of institutional arrogance and disregard for the public good.

EDITORIAL: Scant support for recall doesn't mean approval
Undoing the voters' choices for Portland School Committee would have been a big step.

MAINE VOICES: Moosehead's past outdoes Plum Creek
One hundred years ago, a trip from Greenville to Seboomook by boat would reveal a level of economic development that would boggle the mind of today's conservationist, preservationist or protectionist.

New Hampshire takes the right path with same-sex unions
This matter belongs in a state legislature, and soon it may be Maine's time to debate it.

LTE: Don't waste funding on Downeaster

LTE: Readers dispute wall separating church, state


Prayers, taps herald 2008 legislative sessionThursday, January 03, 2008AUGUSTA, Maine - The sounds of prayers, the national anthem and taps ceremonially opened Maine's 2008 legislative session on Wednesday. But behind the pageantry was a sobering assessment of state finances facing lawmakers as they get down to work.

Bangor: Chamber plans annual events
Susan Collins will receive the Public Service Award, sponsored by Husson College.

Maine Senate '08 session opens with warning
Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds, welcoming colleagues back to the State House as the 2008 legislative session opened Wednesday, warned lawmakers "there is a very hard winter ahead" and that in rebalancing the budget they must recognize "we have cut all the fat" already.

School group's deadline nears
The group seeking to repeal the state's school consolidation law will make a final push this month to collect the required number of signatures on petitions that would bring the repeal issue to legislators or to a referendum vote.

EDITORIAL: Budget balancing act
As lawmakers begin a new session in Augusta this week, the state's growing budget shortfall will demand much of their time and attention. Gov. John Baldacci, through an executive order last month, has already outlined much of his blueprint for cost cutting with more to come when he unveils his supplemental budget next week.

Ralph Chapman: Schools' day of reckoning
Then, last spring with warmer weather coming, school years' end within sight, and several months of acclimating to the reality that our newly re-elected Democratic governor was trying to implement his secret before-the-election school consolidation plan, only the Legislature stood ready to inject some reason into the political processes that seemed to have gone so astray.

LTEs: Silence is Complicity; In defence of Israel; Cut-off from troops
Recovering soldiers and marines at Walter Reed Hospital are definitely more secure, thanks to Homeland Security. They won't be threatened by Christmas and holiday cards sent from supportive and appreciative Americans. This will hearten and reassure those wounded men and women now fighting to regain a sense of well-being.


Lawmakers expecting 'tough year'
AUGUSTA -- Liam Knowles came to the Statehouse Wednesday to watch his granddad, Ralph W. Sarty Jr. of Denmark, take the oath of office.

School, budget, insurance issues await
AUGUSTA -- The budget, school consolidation, energy costs and health insurance all made the list of major topics lawmakers plan to tackle this session.

State disputing claimof Medicaid overcharges
AUGUSTA -- A new federal audit says Maine overcharged the Medicaid program, which is funded jointly by the state and federal governments, by $44.2 million in 2002 and 2003 and the state should reimburse the federal government $29.7 million for its share. But state officials insist that Maine's Bureau of Child and Family Services calculated the costs correctly so the state does not owe the federal government a refund.

Jail readyto staff up
AUGUSTA -- Uncooperative inmates and double shifts are part of the job for Kennebec County sheriff's deputies, but relief is in sight now that the hiring of 16 new corrections officers has been approved.

Maine courtsstumble online
If you want to see a document from a case in Maine's court system, you have to visit the appropriate county courthouse, wait in line and review the hard copy. In some instances, you need a docket number or other information to find the file.

Historic sitesbill is investmentin Maine's future
The sight of empty brick mills and other old industrial buildings -- windows broken, pigeons perched on the roof -- is all too commonplace in Maine. Across the state, these symbols of our state's vibrant past have been abandoned and deemed too expensive for developers to rehabilitate. And when they lie unused and deteriorating, they can suck the life from their towns and cities.

JIM BRUNELLE : Lawmakers need spirit ofJanuary to conquer problems
This is my time of year, the season of optimism and cycle of the fresh start.


Maine courts moving to put records online
If you want to see a document from a case in Maine's court system, you have to visit the appropriate county courthouse, wait in line and review the hard copy. In some instances, you need a docket number or other information to find the file.

EDITORIAL: Historic sites bill is investment in Maine's future

Veteran: Care received at Togus is 'excellent'


Firefighters get grants from feds
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday it has awarded $869,626 in grants to nine Maine fire departments. The money is provided through the "Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program," a news release from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, D-Maine, stated.

LTE: Crisis centers need funding
Gov. Baldacci recently curtailed $38 million to balance the state budget, including money earmarked by the Legislature for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence initiatives.


Snowfall Strains Municipal Budgets Statewide
It's been snowing in Maine--more than usual for this time of year. According to the National Weather Service, Portland residents shoveled and plowed nearly 40 inches of snow in December, making it the city's 3rd snowiest December on record. Barbara Cariddi reports.

Feds To Cut Drug Enforcement Funding To Maine
At a time when Maine is seeing more drug-related homicides - five in 2007- and more drug related violence than ever before, the federal government is slashing funds used to support the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and drug prosecutors in district attorneys' offices around the state. The cuts are not unique to Maine, but as Susan Sharon reports, a state budget shortfall and other fiscal contraints are likely to make it even more challenging to fund Maine's war on drugs.

Maine Legislature Opens Its Doors For Business
Maine lawmakers returned to the State House today vowing to make finances their top priority as they weigh a budget deficit totalling 95 million dollars over the next two years. A little more than a third of that have will have to be closed prior to the end of the fiscal year in June, and lawmakers are gearing up for some intense debate over how to achieve those savings. A.J. Higgins reports.


'Big box' study law scrutinized A law passed in 2007 designed to make it tougher for big-box stores to come into town and take business away from local retailers will be up for discussion again in 2008, with an amendment proposed to allow communities to opt out of the new rule.

Clipped wingsMaine's tax policy reads more like political satire every day, but it's no laughing matter. It's embarrassing.


'Kiddie' tax grows up
If you had a plan to shift some of your tax burden to your youngster, it's time to consider devising a Plan B. Due to Congressional action last year that officially extended childhood from age 14 to age 18 for purposes of calculating tax on invested income, the so-called "kiddie tax" is growing up.


Local Control Battle Looms In Augusta
AUGUSTA — With legislators returning this week to continue their debate on the new school consolidation law, expect a battle over allowing local school committees to maintain control over their kindergarten through grade 8 schools in newly formed "super unions."

EDITORIAL: The Consolidation Debacle


As Maine Goes: Dem Consensus on Redistribution of Income"There's a real Democratic consensus now," said Rep. Barney Frank. The "reality of stagnant income for most Americans" is shaping Democratic priorities. "What you've got, essentially, is a movement on the Democratic side [toward] the view that growth alone is not enough, and concern about the distribution of income has to be part of the equation."

As Maine Goes: Bye Bye, Light Bulb Just like that--like flipping a switch--Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

Maine Web Report: Phase 2 of the Baldacci Tourism Marketing PlanGovernor Baldacci's efforts to accelerate a small-business diaspora continue. This time, Baldacci's economic stormtroopers are trying to stamp out the last vestiges of potential tourism revenue from airfield hangers across the state. Here's the AP report:

Turn Maine Blue: Portland ME Schools and Birth Control--UpdateThe right wing made two attempts to challenge this, and both have failed.

Turn Maine Blue: Open ThreadMaine Today is reporting that Maine has joined California in suing the EPA over its recent ruling to not grant a waiver that would set a higher NOx standard than that of the Fed.

Maine News: "Poll: If the election were held today, who would you vote for in the Maine Senate Race? (Alphabetical)" As of Wednesday, January 2 at 11:30 pm, the results of the poll were as follows:Laurie Dobson 70%Tom Allen 25%Susan Collins 3%

EarthNews: EPA approves Northeast states' mercury plan Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), have called for stronger federal regulation of mercury.

2 Jan 08 January, USA National Stalking Awareness Month Washington, DC U.S. Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a resolution designating January as National Stalking Awareness Month.