• Testimony Heard on Proposed Merger of Natural Resource Departments

    AUGUSTA — Reconfiguring state government’s natural resources departments would either streamline the delivery of services or create an unruly “super agency” that can’t respond to individual needs, according to hours of testimony presented Monday. Merging the departments of marine resources, inland fisheries and wildlife, conservation and agriculture has been a goal of Governor John Baldacci

  • Finding Money for County Jails Proving To Be a Challenge

    AUGUSTA — Amid the wrangling over the revenue-starved 2010-2011 state budget is a relatively minuscule appropriation of $3.5 million for county jails. Members of the criminal justice and appropriations committees are scouring budget lines to fund it, despite the fact they have spent weeks voicing the now-familiar refrain that there’s just not enough money this

  • Statewide Expansion of Pine Tree Zone Program Under Consideration

    AUGUSTA — Considerable benefits for new or expanding businesses will be available statewide if a new bill written by the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee becomes law. The committee, faced with several bills that sought to expand Pine Tree Development Zones in various ways, has decided to open it up to the entire state

  • Bill Proposes Excise Tax On Bottled Water

    AUGUSTA — The Legislature is debating a bill to impose a 1-cent-per-gallon tax on water extracted for commercial purposes, a change Poland Spring Water Co. says would translate into a $7-million tax on the water bottler. The bill proposed by Rep. Jon Hinck (D-Portland) would apply to any bottled water operator that extracted more than

  • Same-sex Marriage Gets House, Senate, Governor’s Approval

    AUGUSTA — In the span of a few hours yesterday (Wednesday) morning, the Maine Senate approved and Governor John Baldacci signed into law legislation making Maine the nation’s fifth state to allow same-sex marriage. After only brief debate, the Senate, by a vote of 21-13, gave final approval of LD 1120, sponsored by Sen. Dennis

  • Statewide Expansion of Pine Tree Zones Proposed

    AUGUSTA — The Legislature is considering opening up Pine Tree Development Zones to the entire state, an expansion of a program that many call a success but that no one can say exactly how successful. Brian Hodges, direct of tax incentive programs for the Department of Economic and Community Development, said that through 2008, 213

  • Advocates Make Their Cases in Response to Proposed Budget Cuts

    AUGUSTA — New proposed budget cuts brought advocates to the State House Monday on behalf of children and state employees who would suffer under Governor John Baldacci’s latest reaction to a revenue downturn that is expected to total more than $1.4 billion over the next two years. The budget process is unfolding quickly since last

  • House Approves Same-sex Marriage Bill

    AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci remains undecided about whether he’ll support a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Maine, even though the measure has all but completed its journey through the Legislature. The House of Representatives approved the measure Tuesday after hours of back-and-forth debate, with a final vote of 89-57 in favor of

  • Bill Raises Debate About Charter Schools

    AUGUSTA — The prospect of creating charter schools in Maine attracted parents and educators to Augusta Tuesday to debate whether their merits as alternative learning settings would be worth diverting funding away from the existing public school system. The bill in question, “An Act to Permit Charter Schools in Maine,” sponsored by Sen. Dennis Damon

  • Milbridge Residents Divided on Subsidized Housing Project

    MILBRIDGE — Voters will decide at a special town meeting May 14 whether to approve a six-month moratorium on multifamily housing developments in response to plans for a $1.2-million subsidized apartment complex for workers employed in farming and fishing. A nonprofit organization, Mano en Mano, has a purchase and sale agreement on a five-acre lot