Archives for Maine legislature

Talk of the Towns 7/13/18

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Engineer: Amy Browne

Looking Back at Maine’s 2018 Legislative Session

Key Discussion Points:
How do you approach the role of legislator—what balance between advancing policy or solving problems framed by your parties vs. constituent services and solving problems that they bring to your attention?

What are your primary committee assignments, and what did those committees work on in this session?

Overall, what were the accomplishments from 128th legislature (2017-18) of which you are most proud? How do those accomplishments translate for your constituents?

On the other hand, what were your greatest disappointments—those things you hoped could be accomplished in this session, but were not?

What do you issues do you imagine will be enduring, as the campaign season heats up and after the November elections, for the 129th Legislature?

Representative Brian Hubbell, Democrat, Bar Harbor
Senator Brian Langley, Republican, Ellsworth
Representative Ralph Chapman, Green Independent, Brooksville

Maine Currents 8/22/17

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Studio Engineer: John Greenman

Legalized Marijuana in Maine: Workplace Drug-testing, Federal Law vs State Law, and the Maine Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s Progress

Attorney Lynne Williams, worked on legalization efforts in Maine and serves on the legal panel for NORML
Activist Paul McCarrier, worked on legalization efforts in Maine and monitors progress of the MLI

Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Tuesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and

Maine Currents 6/6/17

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Will Maine’s New Ranked Choice Voting Law Survive the State Legislature?

The Ranked Choice Voting law passed by Maine voters in November may soon be repealed by the legislature, based on a word that was changed in the state constitution back in the 1800s. The word “plurality” was substituted for “majority” after a contentious gubernatorial race in 1880. As a result, some races in the state can be (and often are) won by candidates who have the support of far less than a majority of the voters. The court’s opinion pertains to only some of the races that would be covered by the new ranked choice voting law. The remaining races could also be conducted via ranked choice voting if the state constitution were amended to read “majority” again rather than plurality. But some in the state legislature are taking the opportunity to throw out the new law entirely – and according to an analysis by Michael Shepard in today’s Bangor Daily News (, they may succeed, as some Democrats are considering voting with the Republicans.

On Friday a public hearing was held on 2 competing bills- LD1624 which proposes to amend the state constitution to allow implementation of ranked choice voting, and LD1625 which would repeal the new ranked choice voting law altogether. The hearing drew an overflow crowd to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and testimony lasted more than 4 hours. Not a single member of the public spoke in support of overturning ranked choice voting. We’re going to listen in on some of the testimony today- as much as we can squeeze into an hour.

UPDATE: As we went to air work sessions for these bills were posted. They will take place on Thursday, June 8th at 1pm. FMI:

Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Tuesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and

Maine Currents 2/8/17

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: Maine’s highest court asked to weigh in on constitutionality of ranked choice voting. After several years of having a Governor that was elected with less than 50% of the vote, Mainers approved Ranked Choice Voting in November, but some legislators and the Maine Attorney General have called into question it’s constitutionality– primarily because the state constitution specifically mentions “plurality” as opposed to “majority”. Last week the state senate voted 24 to 10 in favor of asking the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to weigh in, in a process known as a “solemn occasion”. The move was proposed by Senate President Mike Thibodeau. In the first half of Maine Currents today, we listen in on the debate that ensued.

Segment 2: On Monday the legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on LD103, “An Act to Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers”. The containers the bill seeks to ban are polystyrene, commonly referred to by the brand name “Styrofoam”. This type of packaging has been banned in some municipalities across the state, including Freeport and more recently Portland and South Portland. Supporters of the ban cite environmental and health concerns and they say there are Maine-based paper companies that make an alternative product for hot foods and beverages. Lobbyists for the restaurant and grocery store industries downplay environmental impacts, question the health impacts, and say (in the words of Greg Dugle of the Maine Restaurant Association) that “simply put, [polystyrene] keeps hot food hot and cold food cold” better than any other product.
LD103 was presented by Stanley Zeigler who represents several towns in Waldo County. Representative Zeigler said he was presenting it as a jobs bill, citing industries in Maine that could make the replacement packaging, and also the negative impact of polystyrene pollution on the environment, fisheries and tourism. Representative Deane Rykerson of Kittery spoke in support. Mark Bergeron of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, however, spoke in opposition. He said Maine DEP found some of the terminology in the bill regarding recycling and composting to be problematic. He also said that the department has concerns that they lack the resources to enforce the ban if it becomes law. Today we bring you some of the testimony in favor of, and in opposition to LD103. (A work session on the bill is scheduled for 2/13/17)


Talk of the Towns 1/10/14

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Studio Engineer: Amy Browne

Issue: Community concerns and opportunities

Program Topic: Maine Legislative Action: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Key Discussion Points :

• Each guest provides background on themselves, what motivated them to serve in the Legislature, what committees they serve on…
• What were the highlights of the first session of the 126th Legislature for you, coming primarily from your committee work?
• Beyond work on bills you sponsored or those your committee took up, what were the main accomplishments of the 2013 session?
• What were the main challenges for you and your legislative colleagues?
• Talk about your approach to being a legislator… what is the balance, for you, in pursuing what your constituents are interested in, what makes sense to you as a citizen-policymaker, and how you are guided by your party?
• What are the most effective ways for citizens to make their views known, both to you as individual legislators, and to the legislative leadership?
• Looking ahead… what are the major issues/bills that your committee will be looking at in the upcoming session?
• What are some of the other issues/challenges/opportunities that you expect to see in 2014?
• What have you found to be the most satisfying part of your role as legislator and your hopes for the year ahead

State Representative Brian Hubbell, Bar Harbor
State Representative Walter Kumiega Deer
State Representative Richard Malaby, Hancock

WERU News Report 4/11/12

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Audio contributed by: John Greenman
Issue: Alternative, Independent Local News
Program Topics:
Maine’s Legislative Session is winding down, and as law makers prepare to recess there are several pieces of important legislation that are moving quickly through the process, sometimes with changes that the public may not be aware of. One instance is the latest version of a worker’s comp bill that has raised concerns among worker’s rights advocates who held a press conference in Bangor on Monday. (FMI: Updates on other legislative action today, and an interview w/ Judy Berk, Natural Resources Council of Maine, re: the Maine mining bill and “takings” legislation (FMI:

Key Discussion Points:
Worker’s Comp legislation
Other legislation voted on today
Mining bill update
“Takings” legislation


Speakers recorded at a press conference re: Worker’s Comp legislation: Jack McKay, Director of Food AND Medicine; Rev. Mark Doty, Mark Richards, Dean Harding, Loren Snow

Interview with Judy Berk, Communications Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine

Call In Program: No

WERU News Special Report 5/26/11

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Continuing our coverage of yesterday’s work session on LD 1534, “An Act To Reform the Land Use and Planning Authority in the Unorganized Territories” which eliminates the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, effective July 15, 2012. This bill as it is currently worded also establishes a “Land Use Planning in the Unorganized Territory Transition Advisory Board” to advise the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry on matters relating to the transfer of authority over land use planning in the unorganized territory to the counties in which the land is located. The board is required to render its advice to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 2, 2011. The board is dissolved July 15, 2012. At that point the counties would presumably take over the responsibilities now handled by LURC, though many at the public hearing expressed serious concerns about their ability to do so.
The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC or the Commission) was created by the Maine Legislature in 1971 to serve as the planning and zoning authority for the state’s townships, plantations and unorganized areas. LURC’s jurisdiction stretches over half the state, encompassing more than 10.4 million acres and the largest contiguous undeveloped area in the Northeast.