Angus King submits bill to make college textbooks free

Good morning from Augusta, where the political waters have appeared to calm, at least compared to what’s going on in Congress. For an institution where everyone usually knows what is going to happen before it happens, the leadership vacuum created yesterday when the election of a House speaker fell apart was rather stunning.

It will all work itself out in the end, right?

On the other hand, it’s an indication of the shattered state of politics (reminds me of this great Rolling Stones song), especially in the Republican party. And that’s both here and on Capitol Hill, where Republicans fighting with Republicans has become normal. The question is where it’s all headed. I think about this a lot but I don’t pretend to know the answers.

Part of me longs for the day when our two-party system cedes to the rise of a third and perhaps fourth political party that despite remaining outnumbered by Republicans and Democrats, would go a long way toward derailing partisan gridlock and forcing more compromise.

After all, that’s how the population looks. We’re not divided into two political groups. Here in Maine, more than a third of registered voters are independents, yet there are only a handful of independents in the Legislature. And that says nothing about all the shades of Republicans and Democrats among us.

I didn’t mean for your Friday Daily Brief to turn into a think piece, but I’m curious what you think about our two-party system or how the situation in Washington will resolve itself. Throw me an email at and maybe I’ll build a future post around your responses. — Christopher Cousins

King submits bill to make college textbooks free

U.S. Sen. Angus King has partnered with two Democrats on a bill that would make high-quality college textbooks available for free.

Anyone who has gone to college knows that after paying thousands of dollars in tuition and room and board, the bill at the bookstore at the beginning of every semester can often be a punch in the gut. I remember several classes for which the book cost well in excess of $100 — or for which there were multiple books. And that was more than 15 years ago. King says the cost of textbooks has risen more than 80 percent in the past decade.

Oof. That punch in the gut is worse than it used to be, apparently. The College Board said the average full-time student pays more than $1,200 for his or her books in an academic year.

The Affordable College Textbook Act would create a competitive grant program to create textbooks under an open license, allowing students and professors to use them freely.

There will likely be a hefty price tag on this piece of legislation and no Republicans on the sponsor list might be an indication that the legislation is doomed before it can ever get off the ground. We’ll keep you posted. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Did you know it’s a holiday?

Hat tip to my wife for pointing out this piece of crucial information this morning: Today is National Fire Prevention Day, National Moldy Cheese Day as well as Curious Events Day.

I’m curious what would happen if I set fire to moldy cheese but I’ll try to refrain even though whatever consequences arose would be my wife’s fault.

Tomorrow is Hug a Drummer Day so I think I’ll hold off on celebrating until then. — Christopher Cousins

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.