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Maine News

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Maine News for Thursday, April 3, 2008

Portland Press Herald
Promised changes earn Real ID extension
State House: Complying with federal standards still will require approval from Maine's divided Legislature.

TJX to pay up to $24 million in data breach
The MasterCard settlement must be approved by at least 90 percent of the account issuers.

Maine's cigarette tax could be tops in U.S.
Health groups want Maine's per-pack levy to go from $2 to $3, in part to help fund Dirigo.

USM will cut at least 30 jobs
Positions to be eliminated likely will involve faculty, professional employees and administrators.

States hoping to force action on emissions
Maine is among 18 states taking the EPA to court over its failure to address a greenhouse gas ruling.

Lender falls victim to credit crisis
Downeast Mortgage is no longer making loans and has closed all but one of its offices.

Watson, Can you hear me now?
In just three decades, cellular phones have taken charge – 84 percent of us own them.

Vermont lawmakers told of impending water crisis
Legislators are taking up a bill to protect groundwater.

School district mergers likely to survive
Lawmakers should focus their attention on making the existing law work better.

Patient ratings are good, but should not be the only data
Consumers should consider other patients' outcomes as well as their comfort.

ANOTHER VIEW: Shared revenues from racino revive horse racing in Maine
Contrary to an editorial, the gambling law has supported the industry and the tradition.

Bangor Daily News
Maine gets extension on Real ID compliance

AUGUSTA, Maine - Federal officials on Wednesday granted Maine an extension to comply with Real ID driver's license security requirements after giving the state an extra 48 hours to refine its request.

Caribou: Collins backs County disaster relief

CARIBOU, Maine - U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has made an appeal to President Bush asking that he support Gov. John Baldacci’s request for federal disaster assistance in Aroostook County as a result of recent major snowfall and winter storm conditions.

Tree growth penalty funds eyed to pay for trail grooming

GREENVILLE, Maine - The use of tree growth penalty funds could be an innovative way to help defray local snowmobile trail grooming costs in future years if Greenville Town Manager John Simko gets his way.

Air, land, sea: House approves data system

WASHINGTON - Legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, that would strengthen ocean observation techniques and improve understanding of the nation's bodies of water passed in the House on Monday.

Population Challenges

Maine's high tax burden relative to its low wages and high transportation and heating costs are frequently blamed for the state's lack of economic prosperity. But another factor in Maine's economic fate, the growth of its residential population, is often overlooked or at least underemphasized.

Financial (Non)Reform

The best comment so far on Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.’s 200-page plan to restructure government financial regulation came from Laurence Summers, treasury secretary under President Clinton.

Tarren Bragdon: Dirigo Health experimentwell-intentioned failure
Let’s face it: Gov. John Baldacci’s Dirigo Health plan, a state-funded program that was supposed to provide subsidized health coverage to some 128,000 Maine people without insurance, is a costly failure.

Kennebec Journal

MAINE Feds grant state extension on Real ID
AUGUSTA -- Mainers will not face added hurdles when they try to board airplanes or enter federal buildings next month because the federal government has given the state a last-minute extension to comply with the Real ID Act.

AUGUSTA -- Health groups urged lawmakers Wednesday to increase the cigarette tax by a $1 per pack, saying the increase will encourage more people to quit smoking and generate more money for health programs.

School censure bill is delayed
AUGUSTA -- Legislators delayed a vote Wednesday on a measure that would make Maine the last state to submit information to a national database about teacher-certification suspensions and revocations.

Well-fed kids will learn Legislature expands school breakfast
Faced with a budget crisis that had to be resolved this week by cutting $170 million in state spending, lawmakers nevertheless did something extraordinary: They passed an expansion of the free school breakfast program.

JIM BRUNELLE : Campaign 2008: When will it stop, please?
This is surely the longest, most heavily covered and superficially reported presidential campaign in recent memory.

Sun Journal
Real ID extension OK'd
AUGUSTA - Federal officials on Wednesday granted Maine an extension to comply with Real ID driver's license security requirements after giving the state an extra 48 hours to refine its request.

Casino to hit ballot
AUGUSTA - A citizen-initiated bill that would authorize an Oxford County casino was killed in legislative committee on Wednesday. The issue will now be on the statewide ballot in November.

Group calls for more tobacco tax
AUGUSTA (AP) - A coalition of Maine health groups is calling for higher cigarette taxes to help fund Dirigo and other public health programs.

Teacher background plan gets OK from public
AUGUSTA (AP) - Gov. John Baldacci's proposal to require Maine to join every other state in the nation in reporting teacher certification denials and rejections to help flag sex offenders who move state-to-state drew no opposition at a public hearing Wednesday.

Report: Maine kids better off than most
AUGUSTA - Maine does a good job of protecting the well-being of its kids, but Michael Petit, former commissioner of Maine's Department of Health and Human Services, says the federal government is letting them down.

How sharp are lawmaker memories?
A telling measure of the state's difficult budget deliberations won't be the fiscal or social impact of the many cuts, but how the memories of this difficult battle resonate with lawmakers.

Oxford County Gambling Facility Now Up to Voters
Despite a number of proposals in recent years, Maine still has just one gambling facility, Hollywood Slots in Bangor. In November, Maine voters nixed a racino proposed for eastern Maine. Today, a legislative comittee heard yet another proposal, for a casino on the other side of the state, but it fell short of passage. As Murray Carpenter reports, today's action in Augusta means that Maine voters will see a gambling question on the ballot again this fall.

Cigarette Bill Draws Smoke at Statehouse With a contentious budget battle behind them, lawmakers in Augusta are preparing to take on a new flashpoint issue. Gov. John Baldacci is backing a plan to shore up a stable funding source for the state's Dirigo Health program--a 50-cent-per-pack tax hike on cigarettes. Senate members in both parties have united to defeat the new tax which they say will drive down overall tax revenues as smokers in Maine turn to the Internet or to tax-free New Hampshire to save on cigarettes. AJ Higgins reports

States Take EPA to Court Again Maine joined 16 other states, 3 cities and a coalition of environmental advocacy groups today in a measure designed to turn up the heat on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The states have asked the federal court of appeals to order the EPA to comply with a ruling made one year ago today. Details from Tom Porter

Senate approves National Popular Vote initiative

Committee sends casino initiative to voters

Pig Book: Maine ranks 41st in pork barrel spending