Angus King co-sponsors bill to outlaw LGBT discrimination nationwide

Good morning from Augusta. 

Attorneys for Gov. Paul LePage and for the state Legislature are finalizing initial briefs to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court today. Written testimonies from those parties, and anyone else, are due 4 p.m. on the questions posed by LePage about whether he can veto 65 bills that legislative leaders say have already become law. 

You are by now, of course, familiar with the case. At issue is whether LePage will have to enforce the legislation in question — including several initiatives he and his Republican allies vehemently opposed — or whether lawmakers will have to vote to override his vetoes. 

As reported by the BDN’s Christopher Cousins yesterday, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, will obtain his own attorney to file a brief in support of the governor. Fredette is the only caucus leader to have sided with LePage, and fumed yesterday when House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, denied him legislative funds for legal counsel separate from the Legislature as a whole, which will oppose the governor. 

Stay tuned to bangordailynews.com for updates throughout the day. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

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Angus King among sponsors of federal LGBT anti-discrimination bill

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is one of 39 senators to co-sponsor a bill the ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

As governor of Maine, King signed a law in 1997 to ban discrimination against gays in the Pine Tree State, but in more than half the states, it’s still legal to fire gay men and women because of their sexuality, or deny them housing or service at private businesses.

“It’s time that we as a nation put an end to the discrimination that finds refuge in the far corners of our laws and that manifests itself every day in the lives of those in the LGBT community who want nothing more than the basic rights and protections guaranteed to others,” King said in a prepared statement. “The Equality Act is another step forward in the steady march toward a more perfect Union — one in which a person can pursue their dreams and live their lives free from the fear of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love.”

The Equality Act of 2015 would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include LGBT protections. A companion bill was also introduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives.

The bill has zero Republican sponsors in either the House or Senate. Given the GOP’s majorities in both chambers, its chance of passage is slim. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

LePage awards more than $230,000 to nonprofit groups throughout state

Gov. Paul LePage has chosen 14 groups to receive funding from his discretionary fund, with grants totally more than $230,000.

“There are so many wonderful non-profits serving the needs of Mainers, which range from food banks to recovery and rehabilitation centers to veterans support organizations,” LePage wrote in a prepared statement. “Each is worthy in its own right, and they all provide opportunities and assistance to those in need.”

My Place Teen Center, a Westbrook facility for at-risk youth in Cumberland and York counties, was the top recipient. LePage awarded the group $50,000 for a three-year effort by the organization to monitor and evaluate the long-term effect of participation in the program.

LePage also designated $25,000 to fund the Governor’s Summit on Human Trafficking, which is tasked with devising a statewide action plan to combat trafficking in Maine.

Twelve other organizations also received funding, including: Shepherd Godparent Home, House in the Woods, Challenger Learning Center, Highlands Senior Center, Windham Veterans Center, DownEast Magazine, Professional Training for Teachers, Maine Leadership Institute, Maine Nascar Racecar, NAMI Maine, American Legion Post 148 and Easter Seals Maine. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

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When trashy clothes are a good thing

Here’s something different: Erin Rhoda reports on a shoe prototype made entirely of plastic trash pulled from the ocean. The shoe was made by Adidas, in partnership with an international oceans advocacy group.

The kicks aren’t for sale just yet, but you can read more about the effort here. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

 

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.