Mal Leary

MPBN’s Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads MPBN's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University Of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

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AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Sen. Angus King says important legislation, including a continuing resolution to prevent a federal government shutdown Oct. 1, and the National Defense Authorization Act, are being held up by issues often unrelated to those bills.

The independent senator cites the effort by some lawmakers from western states to attach a rider that would limit efforts to preserve the greater sage grouse.

“A perfect example is the National Defense Authorization Act, which, my understanding is, is now being held up by the sage grouse,” King says.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine has joined with 35 other states in suing Indivior, the maker of Suboxone, a drug widely used to treat opiate addiction. The suit alleges that the company conspired to keep prices artificially high.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says the state has been hurt by the higher prices for the drug. “We’ve got a higher demand for treatment than ever before in the history of the state of Maine. And people are crying out for Vivitrol, Suboxone, methadone, whatever works for the individual patient.”

A new report warns that Maine’s economy will need an infusion of new workers, including immigrants, in order to achieve any future growth.

The report issued by the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine State Chamber is blunt. It says Maine faces a projected shortage of workers as more people age and retire.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's highway system ranks as the fifth best in the nation, up from 18th five years ago.

That's according the Reason Foundation, which ranks states' systems annually. Maine native David Hartgen, a retired engineering professor at the University of North Carolina, authored the study.

"They moved up for several reasons," he says. "First of all, they have made progress with regard to several items; one is the percentage of deficient bridges. They are still above the national average, but it has come down quite a bit.”

Mal Leary / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - Several hundred friends, family members and politicians filled the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland Wednesday night for the dedication of former Maine Gov. Joseph Brennan’s archives.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The U.S. House has passed legislation sponsored by Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin requiring the U.S. Treasury to publish information on Iranian leaders' wealth and how they are using that wealth to promote terrorism.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says the federal government's housing policies are in dire need of an update.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Maine’s law enforcement community is largely unified in its opposition to Question 1 on the fall ballot, which creates a framework for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Gov. Paul LePage has joined in lawsuit filed by several states in federal court seeking to block new overtime rules, saying they will affect state government as well as private employers and result in higher labor costs.

Attorney General Janet Mills says the state of Maine is not part of the suit.

“The governor is free to join in his individual capacity ,but not on behalf of the state of Maine. Unfortunately adding the label governor of the state of Maine implies to people he is representing the state of Maine. That is not the case,” she says.

AUGUSTA, Maine - As congressional leaders try to wrap up a spending bill to keep the federal government operating until Dec. 9, Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree says lawmakers should be working on passing a budget for the year by the Oct. 1 deadline.

“There is no question that Congress should be doing its job and it is not," says Pingree, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. "This is one of the most do-nothing Congresses that we have had, of all the do-nothing Congresses. We are in session for about 90 days. We already took six weeks off.”

Eight new state troopers were sworn in at ceremonies at the criminal justice academy last week, but that has done little to ease the vacancies at the Maine State Police.

Lawmakers gave pay raises ranging from 12 percent to 18 percent to troopers after they were convinced the state police was not competitive with other law enforcement agencies both in and out of state.

Veterans Affairs is celebrating its 150th anniversary with ceremonies at the oldest VA hospital in the nation — Togus VA center in Augusta, which was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln as the site for a home for veterans in Sept. 1866.

In his second inaugural address, Lincoln laid out what VA Secretary Bob McDonald calls the covenant between the people of the United States and its veterans. It’s the part where Lincoln says we have to care for he who has borne the battle, his widow and orphan.

Maine is following the national trend of an improving economy, with household income up and the official poverty rate down.

James Mayall of the Maine Center for Economic Policy says median income in Maine is up.

“Median income went from about $49,500 in 2014 to $51,500, so an increase of about $2,000. That represents a 4 percent increase,” he says.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

The Coast Guard has awarded Eastern Shipbuilders of Florida the contract for the first of its new offshore cutters, which is bad news for Bath Iron Works and its workers.

Eastern Shipyards beat out BIW and a Louisiana shipyard for the contract to build the first of what is expected to be 25 new cutters to replace the aging Coast Guard fleet. Maine’s congressional delegation lobbied hard for BIW, but analysts had said BIW’s higher costs, mostly for energy, could play into the decision.

The Senate Aging Committee, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, has released a study on how to maximize Social Security benefits.

Collins says many are facing a retirement crisis by not getting all the benefits they are entitled to.

“Far too many Americans have not saved enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Many of these retirees will rely on Social Security for nearly all their income,” she says.