Central Maine News: Oct 15, 2015
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
Maine's top health official says he supports vaccinations and efforts to help parents make an informed decision. But he says a bill that would've made it more difficult for parents to opt out of immunizations went too far. The "informed consent" bill would have required parents seeking philosophic exemptions to vaccinations to obtain the signature of a medical professional before opting out. Gov. LePage vetoed the bill. Kenneth Albert, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the extra steps of requiring a parent to visit a doctor for counseling "create a heavy-handed and unnecessary burden for providers, parents, and schools." Health advocates have promised to resurrect the "informed consent" bill. (AP)
Maine Gov. Paul LePage is fueling the notion that there are two Maines, the wealthy south, and the less-prosperous north. The Republican governor told about 100 people in Lewiston that lawmakers from southern Maine dominate the legislative process with the intent of keeping prosperity for themselves. The Sun Journal reported that the governor said, "People in the south part of Maine will not allow people in northern Maine to earn a good living." He added, "I know it sounds hard and cruel, but it's a fact." He referred specifically to failed efforts to ease restrictions on mineral mining in northern Maine. In July, LePage scolded a Cape Elizabeth resident in a handwritten note, saying she lives in a region where people "exploit those who are not so fortunate."
Legal gun owners in Maine no longer need a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The new rules take effect on Thursday. Legislators say the law ends a mandatory permit system that had been in effect for more than 90 years. The law applies to people who are 21 or older or military members age 18 or older. Prohibitions on where firearms can be carried remain. That means no one can bring a gun to places including courthouses, state parks, schools, federal buildings and on private property when prohibited by the property owner. The law change sparked criticism from gun control advocates and remains controversial. (AP)
A Benton man suspected in several Waterville property crimes has been charged with robbery and theft in connection with crimes in Fairfield, including a daylight robbery last month of Casey’s Redemption Center on Main Street . According to the KJ, Fairfield police charged Jacob Kerby, 22, of Benton, last week with a class A count of robbery, three class C counts of theft and two class D counts of burglary of a motor vehicle. Officers charged Kerby with the crimes Thursday at the Kennebec County jail, two days after he was arrested in Waterville in connection with a home break-in on Matthews Avenue. (centralmaine.com)
Winslow town councilors approved regulations on utility-scale solar-electric projects. According to the KJ, that paves the way for possible construction of a huge commercial solar array in town. Councilors adopted an ordinance to regulate large-scale principal solar energy systems and three amendments to existing ordinances to cover rules for noise and decommissioning solar arrays and in what development zones commercial projects would be allowed. The ordinance, the first of its kind in Maine, is necessary for Ranger Solar to move ahead with the project, town officials said. It applies only to large commercial solar projects designed to feed into the electricity grid, not small solar electric systems for household power. (centralmaine.com)
Secretary of State John Kerry plans to travel soon to the Middle East as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have soared in a wave of deadly violence. Over the past weeks, eight Israelis have been killed in a string of stabbings, shootings and the stoning of a car, and 31 Palestinians also have died. Israel says 14 of them were attackers. Palestinian leaders say the violence is the result of frustration and lack of hope for ending nearly 50 years of occupation and gaining independence. (AP)
There are certainly to be some fireworks at Thursday's U.N. Security Council meeting when Ukraine joins the U.N.'s most powerful body. Permanent member Russia is an arch opponent of the addition. Besides Ukraine, there are four other uncontested candidates for nonpermanent members — Egypt, Japan, Senegal and Uruguay. And with a two-thirds approval by the 193 U.N. member states, their election is virtually assured. The five countries would join the council for two-year terms starting Jan. 1. (AP)
About 30 people are still occupying Baltimore City Hall to protest a city council subcommittee's vote in favor of making the interim police commissioner permanent. Interim commissioner Kevin Davis was put in the position after his predecessor, Anthony Batts, was fired amid the most severe violent crime spike the city had seen in 43 years. The spike followed unrest and rioting in April prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody. (AP)
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a 2016 ballot initiative that would strengthen the state's gun laws by restricting ammunition sales. It would require gun owners to turn in assault-style magazines that have a large capacity and to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement. If adopted, California would become the first state in the nation to require background checks at the point of sale for ammunition. Some states require purchasers to obtain licenses and go through background checks ahead of time. (AP)
Myanmar's government has signed a cease-fire agreement with eight ethnic rebel armies. The agreement was signed Thursday at a ceremony in Myanmar's administrative capital. More powerful groups have refused to sign the agreement, but it's still seen as a first step toward ending six decades of fighting between the government, dominated by the Burmese majority, and various minority ethnic groups demanding autonomy and control over their natural resources. (AP)