Good news, Maine!
We’re No. 48! That’s on the Forbes magazine list of business-friendly states. Maine sat at 49th last year after taking 50th place — last among states, for you civic-minded people — from 2010 to 2013.
It gives Maine the worst economic climate in the country, pegging the state’s growth prospects at 49th. Forbes does like our quality of life, however, putting that at 17th in the country.
“Much of the blame for the poor showing in recent years can be placed on the state’s high corporate tax burden and lousy job and economic growth forecast,” the magazine says.
Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has made a lot of Maine’s Forbes ranking before, and he was even chided by the magazine for stretching the truth on how it arrived at the state’s ranking. He’s probably not much happier with 48th place. — Michael Shepherd
Collins, King help pass bill on drug-affected babies
The Protecting Our Infants Act, co-sponsored by Maine’s U.S. senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, passed the Senate on Thursday. It’s aimed at a tamping down a rise in opioid abuse among pregnant women. It’s a massive problem in Maine, where 995 babies were born drug-affected in the state fiscal year ending in June compared to 178 in 2006, according to the state Department of Health Human Services.
The bill would ask the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to review its efforts to fight opioid use among soon-to-be mothers and develop strategies and address any gaps, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have to help states improve data collection on drug-affected children.
In a statement, Collins said the bill, headed to the House of Representatives, “will help some of our most vulnerable children receive the best possible start in life.”
“By developing an improved strategy to prevent opioid abuse and provide more comprehensive treatment, we can help mothers struggling with addictions and curb the disturbing rise of infants suffering from withdrawal,” King said. — Michael Shepherd
- Mayoral candidate Ethan Strimling was endorsed by the Portland Press Herald on Friday. The newspaper’s editorial board called him “the best communicator in the race,” over Mayor Michael Brennan and Tom MacMillan.
- U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, announced this week that she will introduce a bill to address food waste. A 2012 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council said the U.S. wastes 40 percent of food. Notably, Pingree is considering reforming the way that “sell by” and “best by” dates are placed on products, saying food manufacturers often set those dates before the product spoils.
- Her Republican colleague from the 2nd District, Bruce Poliquin, spoke on the House floor yesterday in support of a Republican bill aimed at protecting pregnant women from workplace discrimination. However, the National Women’s Law Center has called it “one step forward and two steps back” for pregnant workers.
- And Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump qualified for the Maine caucus in March, the state party announced Thursday. He joins John Kasich and Jeb Bush as the only party hopefuls to qualify so far. — Michael Shepherd
- Kaci Hickox suing New Jersey officials over Ebola quarantine — Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News
- Top legislators nix hundreds of bills but OK call to make LePage release bonds — Michael Shepherd, BDN
- Collins, King say paper tariffs could hurt 2 Maine mills — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Vetoed defense bill contained provisions to help Maine — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Maine unions reflect on tumultuous year, prepare to support minimum wage hike — Nick McCrea, BDN
- Clinton defends her Benghazi record in face of Republican criticism — Jonathan Allen and John Whitesides, Reuters
Bravo on lottery series
I’m a firm believer that reporters should congratulate reporters as little as possible in public, but I’m making an exception for this data-driven series on the effects of Maine’s lottery on the poor by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The second part of the series focused on Maine’s lottery marketing effort and third of three parts, released today, is about the ethics of a state being involved in the lottery business. Spend some time with this reporting, Maine. It’s worth your while. — Michael Shepherd