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Cutler Unveils Maine Tax Overhaul Plan
04/15/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Independent Eliot Cutler is proposing a tax overhaul that would slash property taxes for many Mainers while raising the sales tax, either permanently or seasonally, to make up the difference. Cutler, who's in a three-way race for governor with Republican incumbent Paul LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud, chose tax day to unveil the plan, which he says would lower property taxes for most Maine homeowners by 20 to 40 percent by boosting tax relief through the homestead exemption. Tom Porter has more.

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FAME to Review Great Northern Owner's $25M Loan Guarantee
04/15/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

The Finance Authority of Maine is considering actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service against Cate Street Capital, as it prepares to review a $25 million loan guarantee it offered the company. Cate Street, which owns Great Northern Paper, needs the loan to open a new wood pellet plant at the site of the former paper mill in Millinocket. But over the weekend, the IRS filed liens against two Cate Steet subsidiaries for nearly $2.5 million. As Jay Field reports, the company says it's working to pay its debts and is confident it will be able to secure the FAME loan.

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Support Grows for Maine Gaming Study Bill
04/15/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

Maine's three Indian tribes and Scarborough Downs failed to convince the Maine Legislature to approve their bids for expanding gambling this year. But they're not out of the game - yet. Support is mounting in both the House and the Senate for a bill authorizing a $150,000 study on the feasibility of additional gaming in the state and the impact it would have on Maine's two casinos. As A.J. Higgins reports, some lawmakers oppose the bill, claiming it is biased against veterans and fraternal organizations.

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Report: Demand for Nurses in Maine on the Rise
04/15/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

If you're contemplating a sure-fire career in Maine, think nursing. A new report on Maine's health occupations finds that nursing is the largest health occupation in the state - and growing. But along with the demand comes an expected shortage of health care professionals in Maine in the coming decades. Patty Wight reports.

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Maine Virtual Charter Schools Bill Hits Roadblock
04/14/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

An effort to establish so-called "virtual" charter schools in Maine hit a major roadblock in Augusta today, as the Maine House approved a moratorium on online public school classes. In states such as Pennsylvania, more than 3,000 students are enrolled in home-based, online classes from kindergarten through the 12th grade. But Maine lawmakers say they want to study the issue further, before they open the doors. A.J. Higgins has more.

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Bill to Hike Board Oversight of Maine's County Jails Advances
04/14/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Maine jails could soon have a new boss, of sorts. A bill that's received initial approval in the Legislature would give greater authority to the Board of Corrections to track and approve funding and management decisions at Maine's 15 county jails. Some see it as a possible solution to problems that arose after the county jails were consolidated in 2008. But as Patty Wight reports, not all county officials are happy with the so-called compromise.

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UMaine Taps Casino Funds for Older Students' Scholarships
04/14/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

More than a third of students enrolled in the University of Maine System are 25 or older. They also make up 60 percent of all part-time students. Paying for tuition, books and other school-related expenses can be a huge challenge for these non-traditional students - many of whom also have full-time jobs and busy family lives. A new scholarship program aims to relieve some of the financial pressures these students face, and, at the same time, help the Umaine system protect future enrollment. Jay Field reports.

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Essay: The Mysterious Process of Choosing a Mate
04/14/2014

What is it, exactly, that we see in our life partners? Writer Taffy Field found the answer in an unlikely place.

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USM President Changes Mind About Faculty Layoffs
04/11/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

There was a surprise announcement today from the University of Southern Maine to rescind a recent decision to lay off a dozen faculty members. The layoffs were originally announced last month as part of a number of measures to achieve $14 million in cuts - that's 10 percent of the school's annual budget. Three academic programs also face elimination. Those proposals prompted widespread protests by students and faculty members at USM, who argued that there are other, less damaging ways to cut costs. Today's bombshell was dropped by USM President Theodora Kalikow during a meeting with faculty Senate earlier today. Tom Porter spoke with Kalikow about her decision.

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USM Faculty Relieved that Layoffs Rescinded
04/11/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

The decision to place a moratorium on faculty layoffs at USM was predictably welcomed by students and faculty at the college - some of whom had been at the State House earlier in the day to present their own 27-point plan to save money without sacrificing jobs. Those who were facing the effects of the layoffs say they're relieved. Tom Porter has more.

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Maine House Strongly Endorses Pre-K Expansion Bill
04/11/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

A roll of the dice at one of Maine's two casinos would have a big payoff for pre-kindergarten children under a bill that passed by a wide margin today in the Maine House. The measure would use casino revenues to expand early childhood education to schools that don't currently offer such programs. The bill was supported by both parties, but some Republicans expressed reservations about what they fear could be a growing trend to immerse children in public education at an earlier age. A.J. Higgins reports.

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Mentally Ill Teens: Bill Seeks to Keep MaineCare Help Past Age 21
04/11/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The transition between adolescence and young adulthood is a time of life in which signs of severe mental illness can first appear. But under current Maine law, teens on MaineCare who receive treatment for mental illness can see those services largely disappear once they turn 21. The Maine Legislature is considering a bill that would bridge mental health services into young adulthood. As Patty Wight reports, supporters say the measure will provide critical help for people at a critical time.

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Fire Officials: Four Lewiston Fires Deliberately Set
04/10/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

The State Fire Marshal's Office has joined an investigation into a series of fires in Lewiston overnight that left about two dozen people homeless. Investigators say four pre-dawn fires were deliberately set in the greater downtown area. They say a fifth attempted arson did not cause any damage. As Susan Sharon reports, the fires come almost a year after a series of similar arsons displaced 200 residents and left the city on edge.

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Maine House Advances Controversial Highway Signs Bill
04/10/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

New federal standards on the posting of informational signs along the interstate mean that Maine is now out of compliance. Lawmakers are trying to solve the problem with a new bill, but the proposed solution is not without its critics. Several legislators attempted to obtain exemptions for their constituents back home when the bill was debated in the House. Ultimately, more than two-thirds of the lawmakers favored changes that would align the state's policy with federal regulations. AJ Higgins has more.

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Maine High Court Denies F. Lee Bailey a Law License
04/10/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Celebrity defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey has been denied the right to practice law in Maine in a 4-2 decision by Maine's highest court. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court vacated an earlier decision by a single justice authorizing Bailey's admission to the Maine Bar - on the condition that he pay the nearly $2 million in back taxes he owed to the federal government. Tom Porter has more.

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Across the Aisle: The Politics of the Pay Check Fairness Act Vote
04/10/2014 Reported By:Keith Shortall  

Another Thursday is upon us, and so we have another installment of "Across the Aisle," our weekly foray into Maine politics, with our analysts Dan Demeritt, a political consultant and former communications director for Gov. Paul LePage, and Cynthia Dill, a practicing attorney and former Democratic state senator. They spoke with Keith Shortall about some of the goings-on in the U.S. Senate this week.

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Maine Lawmakers Reach Budget Deal Gov Calls 'Unacceptable'
04/09/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

The Legislature's Appropriations Committee worked through the night to reach unanimous agreement on a plan that balances the state budget. The bill closes a projected $30 million gap in the next fiscal year, and provides Medicaid funding for developmentally disabled Mainers who are currently on waiting lists for services. But one provision of the plan - to delay payment of Maine's hospitals - has Gov. Paul LePage vowing to dig in his heels. A.J. Higgins has more.

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LePage: Willing to Compromise on Heroin Overdose Drug Bill
04/09/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

Gov. Paul LePage now says he's willing to compromise on a bill that would expand the use of an opiate overdose reversal drug commonly known as Narcan. The bill had proposed putting the prescription drug into the hands of family members and friends of addicts at risk of overdose, and to make it more widely available to first responders. As Susan Sharon reports, the governor had strong objections until a recent conversation with a Democratic lawmaker.

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Goose Rocks Beach Access Case Comes Before Maine High Court
04/09/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

A bitter and divisive argument over public access to a 2-mile-long southern Maine beach was heard in the state's highest court this afternoon. The place in question is Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, where a group of nearly 30 seafront property owners is trying to assert ownership rights against an effort by town and state authorities to establish an easement, effectively classing the beach as public property. Tom Porter has the details.

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Maine Asks Wind Developer to Provide Financial Assurances
04/09/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection wants wind power developer "First Wind" to prove that it can still finance three of its projects in Maine. Last month, the state's highest court ruled that the Maine Public Utilities Commission erred when it approved a joint venture between the company and the utility Emera Maine. Emera had pledged to invest $333 million into the venture, which would have given it a nearly 50 percent stake in First Wind's developments. Jay Field has more.

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Complaint Targets Legality of Canadian Firm's Maine Drug Sales
04/08/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The president of the Maine Pharmacy Association has filed a complaint against a Canadian mail-order prescription company. Kenneth McCall alleges that the company violated Maine law when it sent him drugs manufactured and filled from unapproved foreign countries. As Patty Wight reports, it's the latest test of a relatively new Maine law that allows limited importation of prescription drugs from abroad.

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Maine Sham Marriage Probe Nets Another Conviction
04/08/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

A sweeping marriage fraud conspiracy case came to a close this afternoon, with the sentencing of a 30-year-old woman in U.S. District Court in Bangor. Margaret Kimani, a Kenyan national, received 12 months in prison and three years of supervised release for engaging in a sham marriage to obtain a green card. The case has resulted in 28 felony convictions against defendants in Maine since 2010. Jay Field has more.

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Maine Senate Kills Controversial Land Sales Bill
04/08/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

Lawmakers in Augusta have killed a bill backed by Republicans that would have give the Maine Legislature final say on federal parks and other federal projects involving land. Democrats opposed the measure, arguing that requiring legislative approval for conveying more than 40 acres to the federal government infringes on the rights of private landowners. The debate got personal at times, as both sides claimed the measure struck at the core definition of "Americanism." A.J. Higgins has more.

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Amid Reform Battle, Maine Launches Welfare-to-Work Initiative
04/08/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

While many of Gov. Paul LePage's plans to overhaul state welfare programs are being blocked in the Legislature, the state is moving forward on a new initiative to move people from welfare to work. The strategy involves identifying welfare recipients' skills and strengths as well as the work barriers they face. As Susan Sharon reports, the state is also calling on employers for help.

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Judge's Groundfishing Rulings Bring Mixed Reaction in Maine
04/08/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

There was mixed reaction today from environmental advocates following a couple of recent decisions by a federal judge regarding New England's groundfishing industry. The decisions - issued Friday by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg - were in response to two lawsuits introduced last year by the Conservation Law Foundation, or CLF, and Earthjustice - both environmental law firms. Tom Porter explains.

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