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  • Published
    March 30, 2017

    Legislators use timing and creative wording to skirt spirit of fundraising rules

    Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, came to a statehouse committee room on Feb. 27 to slay dragons. His target: the lobbyists and special interests whose money and power, he said, “create an appearance of corruption” in the legislature. His plan: ban lobbyists from ever again throwing money at legislators. Chenette came armed not with a sword, but with stats: In 2014 and 2015, 400 companies spent $5 million to hire 229 …

  • Published
    March 8, 2017

    New bill proposes contractor training, certifications to reduce lead poisoning

    Seeking to reduce instances of Mainers getting lead poisoning as a result of careless renovations, a lawmaker recently introduced a proposal to require EPA training and certification in lead-safe removal methods for contractors working on older buildings. Renovations of older buildings with lead paint on their walls are one of the major ways people in Maine get lead poisoning, which can cause lowered intelligence …

  • Published
    December 28, 2016

    Funding hope: Removing obstacles to school and work helps struggling single mothers escape the trap they’re in

    Editor’s note: Last in a series. In the Downeast town of Machias, there’s a new program bringing hope to single mothers caught in poverty. The program helps those mothers go to college. And Monique Morin, 21, can’t stop smiling when she tells people about it. “I never in a million years thought I was going to be in college,” she said. “Not even a little bit.” But hope is in short supply for many single mothers …

  • Published
    November 19, 2016

    'I'm supposed to provide for my family, where am I?'

    Editor’s note: This is part four of a five-part series. They are fathers in name only, these men in prison-issued blue work shirts packed into a small room where their bulk and hulk makes three feel like a crowd. They are sitting on stacking chairs set around a folding table, admitting that they barely know their children, weren’t there when they were born, failed to support them after they were born. “When I was …

  • Published
    November 10, 2016

    Chaos in the classroom: too many kids not ready and able to learn

    Editor’s note: This is part three of a five-part series. Kids who come to school dirty, hungry and unable to even sit at a seat. Kids who spend hours in the bathroom, screaming. Kids who throw a chair out of frustration. Kids who are in school, but in such deep trouble at home they are nowhere near ready to learn. To one veteran educator, there was only one way to put it all: “We’re in a crisis,” said Althea …

  • Published
    November 3, 2016

    One wrong guy and an ‘endless struggle’ for a single mom

    Editor’s note: This is part two of a five-part series. Joanne R., 38 years old — “and pushing 60,” she said — has worked since she was 11. She graduated from high school, but didn’t finish college. “I never really got past the first year — life happens,” she said. But she has never had trouble getting work. Joanne R. (the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is not using her real name because she was the …

  • Published
    October 26, 2016

    Fivefold rise in single parenthood fueling family poverty in Maine

    Editor’s note: This is part one of a five-part series. Thousands of Maine children are living in poverty because of a crisis that goes unnamed. It is creating a generation of children who struggle in school, will have a hard time qualifying for a decent job and are more likely to have run-ins with the law and suffer from mental health problems. It is costing all Mainers millions of dollars in programs to help …

  • Published
    February 23, 2012

    Lawmakers told transparency bill will ensure ‘ethical government’

    Legislators were urged Wednesday, Feb. 22, to approve a bill submitted by Gov. Paul LePage to close an ethics law loophole that has allowed high-level state officials not to report millions in state payments to organizations run by themselves or their spouses. The governor proposed the bill, L.D. 1806, shortly after publication of a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting story that revealed that between 2003 …

  • Published
    September 7, 2011

    Lawmakers move to take politics out of grant awards

    The controversy over a $3 million energy grant that went to a politically-connected group may lead to a new law to subject state and federal grants to a competitive process. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the legislature’s government oversight committee voted unanimously to begin the process of writing legislation that would make it hard to award grants and contracts to unqualified applicants, citing as an example the …

  • Published
    August 23, 2011

    Committee delays leak probe

    Last week, lawmakers on the Government Oversight Committee were outraged to learn information from a draft audit on Maine Green Energy Alliance had been leaked to the press. At the committee’s Monday meeting, lawmakers decided to postpone any further action on the leak until they question Maine Green Energy Alliance and Efficiency Maine Trust staff at a hearing in two weeks. State Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldobor…

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