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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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says part of the $900 billion pandemic relief package only begins to address the growing problem of hunger in America.

Pingree says the legislation provides the unemployed help in buying food, but doesn’t solve the larger need.

“It’s a huge issue, the level of hunger and how much it has increased in the pandemic and it certainly is not going away anytime soon. There is an increase in SNAP benefits,” she says.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says the defense bill that President Donald Trump has threatened to veto contains cybersecurity provisions aimed at combating the hacking of government agencies.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Angus King publicly asked major internet streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon to provide free access to their programming over the holidays as a way to keep people at home.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee got some good news from economic and revenue forecasters on Thursday: Despite the recession, Maine’s economy is still growing.

The ceremony was smaller than past years, but the four members of Maine’s electoral college today cast their votes for president and vice president.

Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are among a group of House and Senate members pushing a two-part pandemic relief package they hope will break a deadlock in Congress.

Kevin Bennett / For Maine Public

Some federal food programs have already run out of money, and others will run out at the end of the year. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says continuation of those programs is a top priority.

Alex Edelman / AFP via AP

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she is optimistic that Congress can reach a deal on a $908 billion pandemic relief package in the next week.

Collins says an increasing number of Republican senators are agreeing to the bipartisan proposal that she helped to write, but acknowledges that there is much more negotiation to do before the bill is ready for a vote.

“We are now at the stage where we are working out the actual language and the details, and that is where it becomes extremely complicated,” she says.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

As a new legislative session begins this week, legislative leaders have decided to continue rules passed last summer to combat the pandemic at the State House — with a few modifications.

The bottom line is the general public is banned from the building with access limited to legislators and their staff and essential third parties.

Maine Public reporter Mal Leary spoke with All Things Considered host Nora Flaherty about the start of the session.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Flaherty: Who are essential third parties?

Michael C. York / Associated Press

Lawmakers on Wednesday elected Democratic state Sen. Shenna Bellows as secretary of state for the next two years — the first woman ever to hold that post in Maine.

State lawmakers will be sworn in Wednesday as the 130th Maine Legislature takes office. But the session will be like none in recent history.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday in proposing a $908 billion pandemic relief package that would not include a stimulus check to households.

Funding for most federal agencies runs out next week, and there are concerns on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump will not support the spending bills being negotiated between the House and Senate.

Rebecca Conley / Maine Public file

The bipartisan leaders of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee are calling for the quick appointment of the new committee members and say work on the budget should start next month.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says he’s involved in a bipartisan effort to craft a pandemic relief package for consideration in December.