Politics

  • Impasses Broken as Legislature Closes Out Session

    AUGUSTA — Weeks-long political impasses over the Highway Fund budget and a bond package finally broke Friday, allowing Republicans and Democrats to close out the legislative session with bipartisan decisions in both areas. The last-minute agreements stretched the state bill reviser’s office to the limit in a scramble to draft an amendment for the budget

  • Baldacci Remains Silent on Consolidation Penalties Bill

    AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci remains silent about whether he’ll sign a bill that would delay penalties against towns that haven’t complied with the state’s school consolidation law. The law, sponsored by Rep. James Schatz (D-Blue Hill), would delay $3.7 million in penalties against 185 towns for one year. It was enacted by the Legislature

  • Ports in a Storm

    AUGUSTA — Last-minute maneuvering by lawmakers in the waning hours of the legislative session could leave the town of Searsport without funding it needs to upgrade its port facility at Mack Point. The bond package supported by the Legislature includes a total of $5.75 million for ports, “including funds for port improvements in Eastport and

  • Legislators Differ in Assessing Health Care Progress

    AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci and several Democratic legislators gathered recently to celebrate newly enacted laws they say will improve cost, quality and access to health care in Maine, but some Republicans argue that the real story is about the legislation that failed. Among the achievements cited by the Governor were 14 bills sponsored by

  • Resolution of Saltwater Fishing License Debate Delayed Another Year

    AUGUSTA — Resolution of a years-long debate over whether saltwater fishermen in Maine should buy a license or report to a registry was delayed for another year by the Senate June 10. Two passionately debated bills have been working their way through the legislative process all session. One of them, drafted by the Department of

  • Tax Reform Bill Moves Swiftly Through Legislature

    AUGUSTA — A tax reform bill introduced June 11 by Governor John Baldacci took just a few hours to do what took a similar bill several months. A reform package championed by legislative Democrats since early in the session had awaited Baldacci’s signature since June 5, when the House and Senate enacted it mostly along

  • Plunging State Revenues Force Another Budget Fix

    AUGUSTA — A trend of nose-diving state revenues continued in May, according to new data, which will force the Legislature to enact yet another budget fix before it adjourns. Revenues for the month of May were $21.2 million under budget, pushing year-to-date totals $13.1 million into the red. The drop-off in revenue is so severe

  • State Shifts Cost Burden To Towns

    AUGUSTA — Hancock County towns are bracing for the worst as cuts in the state budget shift at least $140 million in costs from the state to municipalities over the next two years. The shift creates a situation as dire as the recession of the early 1990s, according to Geoff Herman, who monitors the Legislature

  • Baldacci Undecided on Tax Reform Legislation

    AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci remained undecided Tuesday about whether he’ll sign legislation to reform the state’s tax code while he and lawmakers negotiated changes that the Governor deems more acceptable. The House of Representatives voted 84-54 and the Senate voted 19-15 — with very little Republican support — to send the measure to Baldacci

  • Legislators Vote to Delay Consolidation Penalties

    AUGUSTA — The House and Senate have voted to delay penalties against school districts that don’t comply with the school consolidation law, which the Senate chairman of the Education Committee said he hopes will send a message to Governor John Baldacci. “Essentially, we are giving our message to the Governor,” said Sen. Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland