Mal Leary

Maine Public Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public'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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Evan Vucci / AP Photo

On Thursday the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies accused of helping North Korea evade international sanctions. In a tweet, President Trump said Friday he would reverse them, a surprise declaration that sparked confusion in Washington.

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State lawmakers are being urged to fund a program they created four years ago to provide payments to longtime volunteer firefighters.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Gov. Janet Mills proposed two-year budget includes an allocation of $5.5 million for addressing the state’s opioid addiction crisis.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Maine has had a small but growing aquaculture industry, but a proposal by the Mere Point Oyster Company to build a 40-acre oyster farm in Maquoit Bay in Brunswick has angered many local lobster harvesters. They’ve submitted a petition that would require the state to review its aquaculture permitting rules.

State lawmakers are considering a series of bills to expand the use of ranked-choice voting in Maine elections. The first to have a public hearing is a measure to create presidential primary elections in Maine and apply ranked choice voting to those contests.

The Maine House Tuesday voted to change the October holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus to Indigenous People’s Day.

Maine Lawmakers will consider a so-called “red flag” bill this session which supporters say will help reduce gun violence. Red Flag laws, which are in effect in a dozen states, permit police or family members to petition a court to order the temporary removal of guns from any person who may present a danger to themselves or others.

Maine’s current $11 minimum wage will go up to $12 next January. Lawmakers are considering several proposals to head off the increase, or create a separate sub-minimum wage for teens.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins is seeking assurances from top Air Force officials about the future of the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor as the Appropriations Committee considers the Air Force budget. She says the unit is fulfilling a vital role.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

Demographically, Maine is the oldest state in the nation, and so the health of the Social Security system is of particular importance here. Nearly a quarter-million Mainers receive benefits that average $1300 per month.

During a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree told the Veterans Affairs Inspector General, Michael Missal, that she is tired of seeing reports from his office that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is doing a poor job of handling claims for sexual assaults in the military.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is calling for more clarity in the wording of federal student aid applications, to help grandparents caring for their grandchildren apply for assistance.

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A legislative committee has amended a bill to replace Maine's state flag to direct the secretary of state to come up with a design for the state's bicentennial flag.

President Trump is proposing a $4.7 trillion budget that cuts domestic spending by 5 percent, increases defense spending by 4 percent, to $750 billion, and includes $8.6 billion for his border wall with Mexico, along with several major policy changes. 

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed HR 1, the Democratic-backed election reform bill that includes an amendment from Maine 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden providing the rules for public financing for congressional races. The floor debate over that amendment Friday triggered a heated exchange between Golden and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.