Good morning from Augusta, where Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will step up his Maine presence with a State House news conference to announce the formation of his “Working Class Cabinet.”
In a release, his campaign said the Working Class Cabinet is composed of community and business leaders, as well as elected officials and more than one-third of Maine’s elected Democrats have signed on and will publicly endorse Sanders.
That’s a pretty big deal: Clinton won early endorsements from Maine’s most prominent Democrats so far, including U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, Attorney General Janet Mills, House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond.
But former state Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash has been working hard to gain support for Sanders. House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan confirmed that he’ll be among those endorsing Sanders when the news conference kicks off at noon. — Christopher Cousins
Maine DHHS to pursue welfare changes
Gov. Paul LePage’s administration fired new shots in an old battle with the Maine Legislature over welfare-to-work requirements on Thursday, when it said it would hire a vendor to manage support services for low-income families.
Maine has been facing millions of dollars in federal fines for not meeting work requirements rates since 2007, but the Republican governor’s administration has been accused by advocates of overstating the unlikely reality that the fines will have to be paid to pursue a welfare reform agenda.
LePage hammered Democrats on this issue in 2014, when the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said it was on the hook for $7.1 million in fines. In a Friday news release, Commissioner Mary Mayhew said that has ballooned to $29 million and “can no longer be ignored.”
She said the department will begin a bid process for a contractor to give families comprehensive assessments, job training, transportation and other support services beginning in mid-2016. The Portland Press Herald had a detailed primer on the issue. — Michael Shepherd
- LePage, who faced backlash for racial comments earlier this month, didn’t speak publicly at a Martin Luther King Day event in Waterville, according to the Morning Sentinel.
- Democrat Jean-Marie Caterina, a Scarborough town councilor, launched a campaign against Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, on Monday. Volk’s race was the costliest in the chamber in 2014. — Michael Shepherd
- Get out of jail free? Task force eyes changes to bail laws — Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News
- MLK Day speaker from Bangor recalls growing up in segregated South — Dawn Gagnon, BDN
- A first: Republican lawmaker speaks at Martin Luther King Day celebration in Portland — Kelley Bouchard, Portland Press Herald
- How a new southern Maine group wants to help seniors stay in their own homes — Deborah McDermott, Portsmouth Herald
- Lewiston considers banning hoverboards in city buildings — Scott Taylor, Sun Journal
- Clinton’s embrace of Obama holds risks for general election matchup — Jeff Mason and Steve Holland, Reuters
- Study: Under Obamacare, some people still pay 25 percent of their income on health care — Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
No longer standing on the ground
The world has lost another great, as you may have heard. Glenn Frey, one of the founders of the Eagles who helped write Hotel California, among others, died on Monday at age 67.
Obviously, your soundtrack needs to come from the Eagles today. I love Life in the Fast Lane and Dirty Laundry but I’m going to choose from the band’s country side — which is not where I would usually lean.
Still, this is one of my favorite love songs and shows the Eagles’ greatest strength: producing a rounded, full song, and making it sound easy. And peaceful. — Christopher Cousins