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Lawmakers, LePage: Welfare recipients shouldn’t spend benefits on lottery tickets

Lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday called for a bipartisan effort to pass legislation implementing a ban on people on public assistance buying lottery tickets with taxpayer-funded benefits.

The call to action follows revelations this week by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that recipients of public assistance won $22.4 million in lottery prizes since 2010, including eight jackpots worth at least $500,000 apiece. The information was obtained through a public records request to the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Continue Reading →

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People on public assistance spent hundreds of millions on the lottery – and took home $22 million in winnings

Mainers on the state’s three major public assistance programs spent hundreds of millions on lottery tickets from 2010 to 2014 and won $22 million, according to a state analysis obtained by the Center through the public records law and an economist expert in state lotteries. Winning does not necessarily disqualify recipients from remaining on any of the programs (food stamps, aid to families and MaineCare). This is the fifth story in the series, “Lottery: Selling hope to the hopeless.” Continue Reading →

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Maine gets F grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation

The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.

This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue Reading →

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State spends millions to sway flinty Mainers to spend more on lottery tickets

When the state lottery began in 1973, Mainers were not buying tickets at the rate officials had counted on. The state’s response, which continues to today, was to spend millions on marketing and ad campaigns to entice once-flinty Mainers to gamble on long-odds tickets in hopes of getting rich quick. The lottery has more than tripled its in-state advertising expenditures since 2003. It now budgets $3.5 million a year for promoting its Maine and Tri-State lotto games, big jackpot draw games it operates with New Hampshire and Vermont. Continue Reading →

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University study proves Maine’s lottery amounts to a multi-million-dollar tax on the poor

A first-ever statistical analysis of Maine Lottery sales figures and census data by Cornell University and commissioned by The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting shows that lottery ticket sales go up when people lose their jobs. For every one percent increase in joblessness in a given zip code, sales of scratch and draw tickets jump 10 percent. Continue Reading →

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Irving lost mining battle, but history says Canadian corporate giant will not give up

“Expansion is the thing” was the motto of K.C. Irving, the twentieth-century tycoon who created the Irving family empire. An investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting of the Irving-family domination of its New Brunswick homeland and of its growing economic and political influence in Maine suggests that this is still its motto — and that Maine is its expansion target. Continue Reading →

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Lewiston-Auburn ground zero in war against lead poisoning of kids

While the state’s public health efforts to fight childhood lead poisoning have been more successful in Bangor, Portland, Saco, Biddeford and Sanford, where the rates of lead poisoning have gone down in the past 20 years, the rates of childhood lead poisoning in Lewiston and Auburn remain stubbornly high. Continue Reading →

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Feds rarely enforcing law that protects Maine homeowners from lead poisoning

Part three of four: The 2010 law, the “Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule,” requires that contractors must be trained in and follow lead-safe practices that prevent the spread of lead particles during home renovations. But a Maine Center for Public Reporting investigation has found that the law is widely unenforced, a fact even the federal agency that administers the law admits. Continue Reading →

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State expert: ‘Not doing enough’ to eliminate lead poisoning

Part two of four: From 2003 through 2013, 1,512 Maine children, from newborns to 5 year olds, were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Starting this year, the numbers of lead-poisoned children will rise by hundreds more cases annually, as the state lowers the blood lead level that triggers a diagnosis.

What’s being done to solve the problem? Continue Reading →

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