King wants national drug mail-back program modeled after Maine effort

U.S. Sen. Angus King rolled out a proposal for a national mail-back program for unused prescription drugs at a roundtable event in Portland on Tuesday.

The independent said he’ll be introducing a bill establishing a plan based on a first-of-its-kind Maine program established in 2007 that has allowed people to mail unused prescription drugs to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in envelopes provided by pharmacies.

King also announced his support of the TREAT Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand access to addiction treatment.

These efforts are aimed at abuse of heroin and other opiates in Maine and across the country: In 2014, 208 people died of drug overdoses in Maine — the most on record here — and the first half of 2015 was similar, with 105 overdose deaths.

The proposal is intended to augment other efforts to recover unused drugs, including National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which King’s office said in a press release can be difficult for people who live in rural areas or with limited transportation access.

“The federal government needs to work more closely with doctors to curb the number of drugs unnecessarily provided on the front end,” King said in a statement, “and then work to ensure there’s an easy and responsible way to dispose of excess drugs on the back end as well.” — Michael Shepherd

LePage wants you … to go grab some signatures

Gov. Paul LePage put out a pre-Thanksgiving call for volunteers to help the Maine Republican Party’s effort get a referendum to lower taxes and cut welfare on 2016 ballot.

To qualify, the party has to turn in more than 61,000 signatures to the Maine secretary of state’s office by Feb. 1. That’s a challenge, since the party has only been able to collect signatures for the referendum — which is likely to be split into two separate questions on taxes and welfare over the party’s objections if it qualifies — since just before Election Day.

But LePage tried to push the party over the top with an email blast to party members on Wednesday, saying “liberal politicians have tried to stop these reforms for years.”

“This is our chance to get meaningful welfare reform on the ballot so Maine people can vote on fixing our broken welfare system,” he said. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • We know that State & Capitol readers are politically active. So is “an anarchist with a strong anti-capitalist tendency” in Waterville who wants to start a political reading group with others of the subversive sort.
  • Some group on the midcoast is seeking someone to play Mrs. Claus in “a very real 15 second TV commercial” that should be “very fun.” But before you go for it, note that Mrs. Claus “is not very young,” so “please be realistic.” You must be “21+ and then some” and “maturity rules.” (I did some research on how old Santa and Mrs. Claus were when they got married, but I came away with no conclusive answer. She must have been a young woman at some point.)
  • One antique crutch is being offered for free in Portland: “I don’t know where I got this, where it came from, or why I have it,” the owner says, but “I do know I don’t want it” although “it’s kind of neat.” — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.