Political news

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett says the state's Democrats are fired up after the Philadelphia convention, and are already campaigning hard for the fall.

Bartlett  acknowledges that there are still some hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters that are not behind Hillary Clinton's candidacy, but he hopes they will stay active in the party working on other campaigns.  

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new law just taking effect today will help in addressing the state's drug crisis, says Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. She says it won't solve the drug crisis, but it will help.

"There aren't a lot of things I agree with the governor on, but this is one of them," Mills says. "That bill that he put in to crack down on prescribing practices for opiates and for benzodiazepines is a very important bill."

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - Groups working to influence Maine voters on hot-button November ballot initiatives have brought in about $1 million since June.

In November, Mainers will face five ballot questions: marijuana legalization, a new tax to support public schools, universal background checks for gun sales, a gradual minimum wage hike and ranked-choice voting.

Ida Mae Astute/ABC News / Flickr/Creative Commons

Thursday night, Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Much has been said already about the speeches, the Sanders supporters walking out, the musical acts, but not much has been said about climate change — one of the many issues in the 51-page Democratic Party platform. Some say it is the No. 1 priority for the next president of the United States.

Earlier this month at a Democratic delegate committee meeting in Orlando, a proposed amendment to the party platform called Global Climate Leadership was read aloud.

The state ended the budget year with a surplus of about $93 million, but Gov. Paul LePage complains it was all spent as soon as it was counted.

The state surplus is made up of revenues in excess of estimates, unspent balances and unallocated funds carried forward. It totals about $93 million for the budget year that just ended.

At his town meeting in South Paris Wednesday, the governor expressed his frustration that the surplus is now gone.

It's Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly look at Maine politics.

This week, Democratic state Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake, UMaine political science professor Amy Fried and Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, a former Republican lawmaker.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - A new welfare law aiming to restore credibility in Maine's administration of federal benefits comes into effect Friday.

The law, which passed with bipartisan support, sets penalties for individuals who spend cash welfare benefits on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, bail, firearms, vacations, adult entertainment and tattoos.

PORTLAND, Maine - Campaigners who want to legalize marijuana in Maine are opening their headquarters in the state's largest city.

Maine residents can decide if they want to vote "yes on 1'' this November to legalize marijuana use and possession. The law would apply for those at least 21 years old.

The pro-marijuana campaigners will open their office in Portland on Thursday evening. They will use an opening ceremony to recruit volunteers and reach out to supporters.

For 18 years, Theo Kalikow led the University of Maine at Farmington, and then served as interim president of the University of Southern Maine after her retirement. She is now running for the Legislature from Scarborough.

“It’s something I always had in the back of my mind,” she says. “Public service in Maine is like being in a big village.”

Kalikow says Democrats approached her and asked her to run for the Legislature after the party’s nominee dropped out. It’s all part of the election year scramble to contest as many seats in the Legislature as possible.

Shannon Dooling / WBUR

The lineup this week at the Democratic National Convention is a star-studded cast, complete with sitting and former presidents, U.S. senators and lifelong political heavyweights.

While Trevor Doiron of Jay, Maine, isn’t among the most well-known delegates in Philadelphia, he his one of the youngest.

Doiron, 17, seems to know his way around the convention hall arena, navigating with the poise and confidence of a party chairman.

BANGOR, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage is going after the state teachers' union for its support of two questions that will appear on the November ballot.

"The MEA wants legislators to support a 10 percent income tax on successful Mainers," LePage says in his weekly radio address.

Gov. Paul LePage has told his commissioners he wants to cut the number of state workers and reduce overall state spending below current levels to fund a significant income tax cut in next year’s budget package.

A memo that was sent to commissioners earlier this month and obtained by Maine Public Radio reveals that the governor has set three goals for the budget-writing process that is already underway.

PORTLAND, Maine - Among the speakers at yesterday's opening day of the Democratic Convention was outgoing Portland state Rep. Diane Russell.

Russell has been pushing a proposal to reduce the influence of so-called superdelegates in the Democratic Party's selection of presidential nominees.

Jim Hutchison / Flickr/Creative Commons

National nominating conventions are always a bit chaotic, but Democrats appear to be joining Republicans in ratcheting up the chaos more than usual during the first day of the Democratic convention, which got off to a rocky start in Philadelphia.

By Holly Ramer, The Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ When it comes to women in elected office, Maine stands out for longevity, Vermont for its state Legislature and New Hampshire for achievements across all levels of government.

As Hillary Clinton seeks to become the nation's first female president, an analysis by The Associated Press finds that women in the U.S. remain significantly underrepresented at all levels of elected office.