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Maine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Maine News for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Portland Press Herald
Legislators turn to other taxes to pay for Dirigo
State House: A cigarette-tax hike is abandoned, but proposals would tap the tobacco-settlement fund.

Revised jail consolidation proposal wins House backing
State House: The popular plan backs away from the original idea of a state takeover.

House upholds veto on Indian Island slots
State House: Gov. Baldacci again says all gambling expansions should go before voters.

Report: Grow economy in clusters
Maine is encouraged to focus its resources on key areas and help develop networks of collaboration.

King pushes for offshore wind turbines
The former governor sees them as a solution to huge future energy problems.

Collins-Allen Senate race hits money milestone
They have raised a combined $9.2 million through March, making it the richest contest in Maine history.

Tax on drinking doesn't raise appeal of Dirigo funding idea
Lawmakers should find a way to pay for the health-care initiative from within the system.

Legislators should stick with tougher ethics bill
Opponents of reform should be ready to explain why they can't live under strict guidelines.

Best idea for Augusta: No new taxes on beer and wine – or anything else
Why do their promises to reduce our high taxes always get transformed into more tax hikes?

Kennebec Journal
In effort to pay for health program, Maine lawmakers are considering increased taxes on beer, wine and soda
AUGUSTA -- The House and Senate Tuesday turned to tax and fee increases on beer, wine and soda manufacturers in an effort to fund the Dirigo Health program.

AUGUSTA Head Start employees face layoffs
AUGUSTA -- Kayla Briggs wouldn't still be in high school or enrolled in a certified nurse-assistant program at the Capital Area Technical Center if it hadn't been for her Head Start family advocate.

MaineGeneral combining switchboards
Augusta area callers can contact the hospital at 626-1000, and Waterville area residents can reach the hospital at 872-1000.

Bill would allow PUC to review utility rates
The Maine Public Utilities Commission will have to review utility rates for towns in Kennebec County that contract their 911 services through the Central Maine Regional Communications Center, if a bill passed by the Legislature is approved by Gov. John Baldacci.

On Maine Politics
GOP touts Collins lead, Allen turns 63 04/15/08

Deadline looms for passage of farm bill
Congress has spent almost three years bickering over a new farm bill. Now, it's down to the wire, with a Friday deadline to come to agreement on the details of the $300 billion bill.

GEORGE SMITH : Hopes, dreams for Kennebec beginning to take shape
All eyes are on the Kennebec River, watching how high the waters will rise in this spring's flood.


Bigotry in name of God rearing ugly head again
Reading my paper this morning, I was appalled that bigotry in the name of God is rearing its ugly head again in the form of Michael Heath and his Christian Civic League.

Referendum question restricts liberties of all
The Christian Civic League is trying to restrict our liberties, targeting gays and lesbians in Maine, and attempting to pass a referendum on the ballot that would outlaw civil unions, define marriage as being between a man and woman only, prohibit unmarried couples from adopting, and eliminate the designation "sexual orientation" from the Maine Human Rights Act.

Christian Civic League represents thousands
Your editorial, "We should ignore Heath, League, dogma of bigotry" (April 11) was full of choice words (regarding the League's proposed initiative); hateful, anti-homosexual agenda, cohorts, grab-bag of obsessions, flea, deadly disease, etc. And you top it off with a "sociological theory": how much better can you get?

Bangor Daily News

Jail bill gets initial approval

AUGUSTA, Maine - Legislation overhauling corrections in Maine got initial approval in the House by a wide margin Tuesday despite the reservations of some lawmakers. The Senate later gave its initial approval without debate.

Tribe's slots bid killed

AUGUSTA, Maine - After being vetoed Tuesday afternoon by Gov. John Baldacci, a bill to allow the Penobscot Nation to operate slot machines at its Indian Island high-stakes beano facility was effectively killed when lawmakers upheld the governor's decision.

Mother of man killed after being listed on state online sex offender registry seeks changes

Two years ago today, when a young Canadian man named Stephen Marshall stalked and killed two Maine sex offenders in a horrific, random spree, Shirley Turner lost more than just her son.

Physical therapists sue Anthem

BANGOR, Maine - At least a hundred Maine physical therapists have joined forces in a class-action lawsuit against the state's largest health insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine, according to the plaintiffs' attorney.

Senate race fundraising breaks state records

The U.S. Senate campaigns for Susan Collins and Tom Allen filed federal fundraising reports Tuesday that showed Collins outpacing her rival in the amount of money raised since Jan. 1.

Report touts technology clusters for Maine

Maine's effort to grow a more technology-intensive economy is well under way, according to a report released Tuesday by the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

Raise a glass to Dirigo?

In addition to extending health insurance to many of those unable to afford it, Dirigo Health aimed to find savings in the state's health care system and use those savings to pay for the program.

Editorial: Raising Maine's wages

Last week, the Legislature approved a 50-cent increase in the state minimum wage from $7 to $7.50. This is a positive step, but more needs to be done to boost Maine's incomes and, therefore, reduce its tax burden.

Scott Solman and Pat Wheeler: Maine cannot further burden its taxpayers
Benjamin Franklin once said, "No man's life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session." Although those words predated the creation of the Maine Legislature, they clearly apply to lawmakers in Augusta.

House Snuffs Out Plan to Hike Cigarette Tax
A bill crafted to provide a less controversial and more reliable funding source for the financially embattled Dirigo Health program has made its way out of the House, but not before lawmakers there stripped off a proposed increased in the cigarette tax and replaced it with a variety of new taxes on an assortment of commodities -- including beer. The last-minute change to LD 2247 has received all-but-final approval in the House and contains elements that are expected to be supported by majority Democrats in the Senate. A.J. Higgins reports.

Anti Gay Initiative Stirs Anger at Sponsor
Three civil rights organizations are challenging the wording of a proposed citizens' initiative that seeks to repeal a range of gay rights laws in Maine. The proposed referendum would also ban gay marriage, even though Maine already has a law that prohibits it. And as Susan Sharon reports, it's already creating hard feelings against the chief sponsor of the measure, Michael Heath of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Power Line Projects Would Impact Electric Bills
Last week, the two companies that keep the lights on at opposite ends of Maine announced that they're studying the possibility of building a 200 mile long high-capacity power line to deliver power from north to south. More specifically, from wind farms and other power generators in northern Maine to energy-hungry markets in southern New England. The cost of the new line: 4 to 5 hundred million dollars. And as Keith Shortall reports, the final plan could affect how much your monthly electric bills will be down the road.

Sun Journal
Maine House, Senate OK jail consolidation package
AUGUSTA - The Legislature gave preliminary approval of the jail consolidation bill Tuesday evening. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House despite lengthy debate and was passed in the Senate without comment.

House sustains veto of slots bill
AUGUSTA (AP) - Gov. John Baldacci vetoed a bill Tuesday to allow slot machines on Indian Island, saying it has not gone before voters, and lawmakers upheld the governor's action on a proposal that's been around since last year.

Substitute tax plan approved in Augusta
AUGUSTA (AP) - Democratic lawmakers, moving swiftly through a long legislative day, mustered votes of final approval in the House and Senate late Tuesday night for a bill to broaden beer and wine taxes as part of a change in the funding mechanism for Maine's Dirigo Health program.

Campaign fundraising record in Maine
PORTLAND (AP) - Fundraising in Maine's U.S. Senate race has set a new record.