LePage looking for 100 Maine businesses who will hire at least 100 veterans

Good morning from Augusta, where Michael Shepherd has already made his mark on the Bangor Daily News and the Daily Brief.

Shepherd, our new political reporter who started this week, had his first BDN byline Tuesday, but that’s not what I’m talking about. During a conversation in the office Tuesday, he said he just wasn’t sure about the use of italics in the first portion of the Daily Brief. I’ve had at least two readers register the same observation in months past: that italics can be hard to read and keeping your head tilted slightly to the right is tiring.

In the beginning, we thought it was a way to flag for you that this section is meant to be an up-to-the-minute barometer of the dynamics at play in state government, with some discussion of what’s to come sprinkled in.

As Mike pointed out, what does that have to do with italics? Not a lot.

So POOF! They’re gone. From now on we’re going to use lots of pretty colors.

Just kidding.

Anyway, look for Mike to continue to make his mark on the Daily Brief. If you have ideas about how it can be improved, now is a good time to speak up. Drop him or me a line at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com or ccousins@bangordailynews.com.

If you haven’t noticed already, Mario Moretto is no longer with the BDN. His departure leaves a major void at the newspaper and in Maine journalism in general, but we wish him the best of luck. — Christopher Cousins

Now, here’s Mike (and a soundtrack to celebrate the occasion, which will make sense when you meet him):

Today only: Save $20 on an ounce of pot

Marijuana legalization supporters heralded a milestone on Tuesday, saying for the first time in history, a state saw more revenue from specific taxes on marijuana than it did from alcohol.

Colorado collected $70 million from sales and excise taxes on marijuana in the fiscal year ending in June, well over the $42 million the state collected in alcohol excise taxes, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Now, some context is needed: Taxes on marijuana are much higher than those on alcohol, and the Associated Press reported that alcohol still likely brings in more tax revenue than marijuana, because those figures don’t include overall 2.9 percent state sales taxes, which the state doesn’t keep specific data on.

But these are figures that you’re bound to hear a lot about over the next year, as dueling groups — MPP and Legalize Maine — push to get different marijuana legalization questions on the Maine ballot in 2016.

In a statement, an MPP spokesman said “it’s crazy how much revenue our state used to flush down the drain by forcing marijuana sales into the underground market.”

And if you’re a marijuana connoisseur who can book a flight to Denver today, you might want to: Wednesday is a one-time tax holiday for marijuana in Colorado, knocking $20 or so off the per-ounce price of mid-level marijuana, which the AP reported is selling for around $200 in Denver.

That’s due to a constitutional quirk because of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a law that requires new taxes to be refunded when overall state collections exceed expectations. It could cost Colorado between $3 million and $4 million, but shops are bracing for massive crowds.

If Maine had passed TABOR when it came up in 2006 and 2009, something similar could have happened here post-legalization. Oh, what could have been, man. — Michael Shepherd

LePage announces ‘Hire-a-Vet’ push

Gov. Paul LePage and first lady Ann LePage will host an event this afternoon at the Blaine House to support the Maine Hire-a-Vet Campaign, which started on Labor Day. The goal of the program is to commit at least 100 Maine employers to recruit at least 100 military veterans into jobs.

Incentives — other than supporting our military men and women — include technical assistance from the Maine Department of Labor and other state agencies in topics from understanding military language to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life. More information about the campaign can be found by clicking here.

The LePages are expected to announce early successes in the campaign at 4 p.m.

Maine Medical Association survey finds 77 percent support for ending immunization exemptions

According to a recent survey of 233 of its members conducted by the Maine Medical Association, nearly 77 percent of respondents support removing from law the ability for parents to refuse immunizations for their children, based on philosophical or religious reasons.

This is a hot issue in Maine, as the BDN’s Health Editor, Jackie Farwell, has been reporting exhaustively. Just last week, she gave us this nifty digital tool that allows you to see the percentage of students at your kid’s elementary school who have not received vaccines.

The MMA will use the data to make future decisions, according to its September newsletter. 

Another interesting, though unrelated tidbit from the survey: 89 percent of doctors support the expansion of mandatory background checks for private sales of firearms, such as at gun shows and through classified advertisements. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Goooooooood morning, Rockland

I’m a sucker for sunrise and sunset photos. Apparently, so is the BDN’s long-time Rockland reporter, Stephen Betts. I’ll leave you with this photo he took just this morning: sunrise

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.