Things You Need to Know: ME Lawmakers Support Raising Age to Buy Tobacco to 21
Here are the things you need to know today......
From the Associated Press:
The Portland Press Herald is reporting that Gov. Paul LePage and his staff and security spent more than $35,000 on luxury hotels, restaurants and travel to Washington, D.C. over a three-month period. The PPH reports the expenses occurred last spring when LePage was attending meetings or seeking audience with members of Congress and President Trump's administration. The paper reports taxpayers paid for most of the travels. LePage's office tells the paper some expenses were reimbursed by outside groups such as the Republican Governors Association.
A Gardiner business is using a peculiar incentive to encourage residents to clean up their town. Summit Medical Marijuana in Gardiner, offered residents who collected trash Saturday free marijuana. Gifting marijuana is legal in Maine. Summit Medical Marijuana the program is about bringing awareness to the "life-changing" nature of cannabis as well as a public service to the community.
A bill to raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 is headed to Republican Gov. Paul LePage's desk. The bill would take effect July 2018 and also apply to electronic smoking devices. The governor hasn't indicated whether he'll sign the bill into law. The House voted 113-34 Thursday to support the bill, which previously received strong support from the Senate.
Police say they will crack down on raucous, off-campus parties near Bates College after complaints from neighbors that the students are "out of control." The Sun-Journal reports that Lewiston police will now respond to complaints directly instead of referring them to school security at Bates College.
A court hearing could determine the fate of a dog that was due to be euthanized before Maine's governor tried to grant clemency to the pooch. Republican Gov. Paul LePage's pardon made a celebrity out of the Alaskan husky named Dakota that was ordered to be put down after attacking two dogs, killing one. The hearing is set for Monday.
Maine is now accepting applications for the lottery to participate in its expanded deer hunting season this year. The state uses "any-deer" permits, which allow hunters to harvest deer of either sex, to manage the population. Maine is giving out more than 66,000 of the permits this year, up from less than 46,000 last year.
The University of Maine system says it has received a $7.5 million grant to support changes to its graduate professional studies programs. The grant funds a new initiative to create the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies which will tie law, business and public service programs. The Maine Center will also feature a program focusing on externships, executive education and incubator programs.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins says President Donald Trump needs to stop publicly commenting on the investigation into coordination between the Russian government and his campaign. Collins' comments concerned Robert Mueller, who has been appointed as special counsel to investigate Russian election interference. Trump told the New York Times it would be a "violation" if Mueller looked at his personal finances as part of the probe.
A 60-year-old man who was arrested after authorities say at least nine people died in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer found outside a Walmart in San Antonio is due in federal court. Prosecutors say James Mathew Bradley Jr. of Clearwater, Florida, will be charged on Monday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan says the truck driver is in custody, but the local U.S. Attorney's Office wouldn't say if Bradley was the alleged driver who was arrested.
An Afghan government official says the death toll in a suicide car bomb in a western neighborhood of Kabul has climbed to 24. The official says 42 people were also wounded in the early morning attack that targeted a bus carrying employees of the mines and petroleum ministry. Kabul police chief spokesman Basir Mujahed says all the dead and wounded are civilians.
Israeli media say President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy is on his way to the region to try and defuse a growing crisis over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. The newspaper Haaretz is reporting that Jason Greenblatt is expected to arrive on Monday in the Trump administration's first direct foray into the crisis.
An Associated Press investigation reveals that the Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina used its two congregations in Brazil to supply a steady flow of young laborers to its 35-acre compound in rural Spindale. Church leaders in the US confiscated passports and forced the Brazilians to work in jobs like babysitting and construction for little or no pay while subjecting them to physical or verbal assaults. Brazilians interviewed by AP likened the situation to a pipeline of slave labor.
Sixty-four years after the end of its war with the U.S., North Korea continues to dig up thousands of bombs, mortars and pieces of live ammunition, most of it American. One bomb-squad member says he's lost five colleagues to explosions in the 10 years he's been at the job. He bears a scar on his left cheek from a disposal mission gone wrong. He says he doesn't believe experts who say cleanup will take 100 years. He thinks it will take longer.