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Fred Bever / Maine Public

Hearings On Environmental Impact Of CMP Transmission Line Get Underway

State environmental regulators opened a week of hearings today on Central Maine Power's proposed 141-transmission line through western Maine.

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Courtesy photo / Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power

One of the lead opponents of a wind energy joint venture has reversed its opposition to the project, and says it's OK to go ahead under certain conditions. Maine's Office of the Public Advocate - or OPA - issued a brief on Friday regarding plans by Canadian utility Emera - owner of the companies formerly known as Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service Company - to enter into a joint venture with Boston-based First Wind.  Tom Porter has more.

FILE: A Panhandler on the side of a street in Portland
Patty Wight/Maine Public

The city of Portland has been at the center of the storm over the issue of panhandling, but other Maine communities are also grappling with it and discussing whether to put limits on people soliciting money from passers-by. In Portland, a ban on panhandling from median strips was ruled unconstitutional earlier this year and now the city is appealing that ruling. In Augusta last week, the police chief made news by using a cardboard sign to stage his own anti-panhandling protest.

Tonight, city councilors in Saco will consider adopting a plan that would let seniors defer property tax payments.  The idea is to help long-time residents stay in their homes as they struggle to keep up with climbing taxes.  But as Patty Wight reports, critics say the plan merely moves the financial burden to the next generation.

NSA, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Skype, Facebook logos

The issue of striking the proper balance between privacy and security is topic of increased discussion among the citizenry in the U.S. The revelation that classified, systematic, domestic surveillance by the NSA has been taking place has made this issue front-and-center as of late. A panel discussion between renowned jurists, scholars and authors illuminate how we got here, emerging court battles and the broad range of implications.

The panel included:

On this last day of the legislative session, Gov. Paul LePage submitted a bill he says will provide Maine's nursing homes with the money they need to keep their doors open for the remainder of the budget cycle. But the problem for Democratic legislative leaders is that the bill would take millions from the state's Fund for a Healthy Maine that underwrites substance abuse programs.  And as A.J. Higgins reports, they also think it's being proposed too late in the session.

Maine lawmakers have moved swiftly through what they plan to be the last day of the 126th Legislature. They have been dealing with vetoes and last minute legislation. MPBN's Mal Leary joins Maine Things Considered host Tom Porter from the Capitol with an update.

This weekend, members of the Maine Greens will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their party, which now includes more than 30,000 members. It was started by a small group of people who were disenfranchised with the Democratic Party, in part, because of the difficulty they faced trying to get presidential candidate Jesse Jackson on the Maine ballot in 1984. The Greens embraced what were considered fringe values at the time. And while many of their positions have since gone mainstream, the party is still working to gain broader acceptance.

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Acclaimed Camden, Maine-based author Tess Gerritsen has filed a lawsuit against Warner Brothers, claiming the film company used her 1999 novel "Gravity" as the basis for the recent film by the same name.  As Patty Wight reports, Gerritsen says Warner Brothers owes her at least $10 million.

The state ethics commission handed down the second-largest fine in its history today, after a lengthy investigation concluded that supporters of a proposed Lewiston casino failed to satisfy state campaign finance report filing requirements. As A.J. Higgins reports, two political action committees and their backers have agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to the state.

After chairing a congressional hearing on so-called "dark money" - undisclosed money in federal elections, independent Maine Sen. Angus King is calling for greater transparency around campaign financing. The Senate Rules Committee took up the issue, in part, because of the recent Supreme Court decision abolishing caps on an individual's total donations to federal candidates, parties and political action committees.  Tom Porter has more.



Legislative Update

Monday—We hear about the latest bills and issues before Maine's legislature from two legislative leaders.