Seeking to reduce the instances of Mainers getting lead poisoning due to careless renovations, a lawmaker introduced a proposal March 7 to require EPA training and certification in lead-safe removal methods for contractors working on older buildings. Sen. Nathan Libby, a Democrat from Lewiston — which has the most severe lead paint problem in the state — introduced a bill to require EPA training and certification in lead-safe removal methods for at least one person on contracting crews that perform maintenance or renovation work on buildings built before 1978, when lead paint was still legal to use.
Saying he wanted to stop a practice that was “the closest thing to getting directly paid” by lobbyists, state Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, introduced a bill Feb. 27 to bar legislators from paying themselves, businesses they run and family members from political action committees (PACs) that they control.
The Legislature’s investigative arm launched a preliminary inquiry of the state-sponsored Maine PowerOptions electricity program Feb. 17, a month after a story by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting raised questions about the group’s transparency, oversight and benefits for its members.
For the first time in 16 years, staff of Maine PowerOptions appeared before lawmakers Feb. 2 to explain how the quasi-state electricity consortium brings together hundreds of municipalities and school districts across the state to help them buy power.
Reacting to an investigative series by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has voted unanimously to fast-track a study of the Maine State Lottery. Panel members are keen to learn if the Lottery’s advertising strategy specifically targets Maine’s poor. Continue Reading →
Wealthy donors from across the country have sent nearly $100,000 to the Maine Democratic Party as part of a coordinated fundraising program called the Hillary Victory Fund. But not all of that money is staying in the state: 40 percent of it has already been transferred to the Democratic National Committee. Continue Reading →
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 →
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 →
Lawmakers from both parties are calling for closer scrutiny of Maine’s $230 million-a-year state-run lottery, including determining if its advertising targets Maine’s poor, who are the state’s most avid players. Continue Reading →
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 →
The Maine state lottery receives little oversight by the state legislature because, as one ex-legislator put it, the state is “drunk” on the $50 million revenue that ticket sales add to the state treasury and no one wants to question the ethics of state-promoted gambling if it might mean giving up that money. Continue Reading →
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 →