Maine to use Ranked Choice Voting for 2020 Presidential Election

“The law will still require that one presidential elector be chosen from each congressional district and two electors to be chosen at large, but ranked-choice voting could well make a difference if there are more than two candidates and if no candidate achieves more than fifty percent in the first round of tabulation in one of the two Congressional districts or in the at large count,” she said. “The two at-large electors would both represent the one winner in the statewide tabulation for President.”

Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting in statewide elections in 2018 after voters ratified the system via a ballot initiative in 2016. The state is now the first to use the system in presidential elections.

Source: Maine Public

New zoning in Portland to address sea level rise

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City planners are proposing new zoning rules for flood-prone areas of Portland in an effort to encourage developers to design buildings with sea level rise in mind.

The proposed Coastal Resiliency Overlay Zone would allow developers to build taller buildings in those areas if they prove the additional height is being used to prepare for sea level rise and storm surges associated with a changing climate.

“This overlay would incentivize property owners and developers who wish to build in parts of the city that face increasing threat from flooding to make their buildings resilient to flooding,” Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon said in a memo to the Planning Board, which will review the proposal Tuesday.

Source: Portland Press Herald

Portland switching to single yearly tax bill

Portland is changing the way it bills and collects property taxes. And the transition means that, for this year only, the first payment will be due in October, rather than September, according to a news release.

Beginning this year, Portland will be sending out one annual property tax bill, rather than two bills. The new tax bill will include two payment coupons.

The change is expected to save the city at least $15,000 a year in staff, supply and postage costs, the city said.

Because of the transition, this year’s bills will be sent out in early September, rather than August. The deadline for the first payment is Oct. 18, rather than mid-September, the city said. The second half of the tax bill will be due on March 20, 2020.

Source: Portland Press Herald

Thousands of Monarch butterflies have taken over this Maine farm

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This summer, monarch caterpillars and butterflies have enveloped Slater Farm in Washington, Maine. Halsey, who purchased the property in 2015, is overjoyed at the phenomenon. “There must be thousands,” she said on Aug. 21, her head thrown back as she surveyed the side of the farmhouse. Monarch chrysalises covered the building. The pale green sachets, flecked with gold, dangled from window frames and wood siding. Caterpillars transforming into butterflies.

Source:  BDN Maine

Cellphone Data Warrant Approved by Maine Supreme Court

Maine’s Supreme Court disagrees with a judge who suppressed cellphone data obtained from a warrant.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday set aside the judge’s decision. The judge had said search warrants weren’t supported by probable cause.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote in a unanimous decision that the search warrant request by detectives investigating burglaries involving multiple convicted criminals was legal.

But she was careful to note that the ruling was limited in scope to the burglary investigation and limited cellphone data. She said the court was not addressing whether judges should assume cellphone evidence exists in all cases involving multiple defendants.

Source: Maine Public

Exports of Lobster Plunge Amid Tariffs

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U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north. China, a huge and growing customer for lobster, placed heavy tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — in July 2018 amid rising trade hostilities between the Chinese and the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, business is booming in Canada, where cargo planes are coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, to handle a growing bump in exports.

Source: Maine Public

Camden wants to demolish a 200-year-old dam 

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While there are benefits to removing it, not everyone in town is quite sure if they outweigh the dam’s historical and aesthetic value. Montgomery Dam creates an impoundment of water right above the falls that acts as a sort of reflecting pool. Numerous Main Street businesses, including two restaurants, have decks located above the dam so customers can take in the view.

Source:  BDN Maine

SoPo May Charge $1,000 a day for Short Term Rental Violations

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He said councilors will go over what responses have been received, note how many violations are still outstanding and discuss what legal action can be taken against who are not in compliance. Violations could cost property owners $1,000 a day for a first offense and a fine of $1,500 per day for each additional offense. Scully said some properties in violation may have applied to register, but were denied and have continued to rent despite the ordinance. Other violators, she said, have failed to meet build

Source:  Portland Press Herald

UMaine Get $20M for Research of Maine’s Aquatic Ecosystems

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The University of Maine and The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences will use a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to learn more about Maine’s aquatic ecosystems. The Maine eDNA project — where “e” stands for “environmental” — will analyze samples from around Maine’s waterways.

Lead researcher and UMaine professor, Michael Kinnison, says eDNA uses tools similar to those that crime scene investigators use, to find out which organisms are present. Kinnison spoke with Maine Public’s Nora

Source: Maine Public

First Downeast hemp farm in Machias

For regular travelers of Machias’ Kennebec road, it seemed like the plants popped up overnight. One day there were empty fields surrounding Schoppee Farm, and the next, neatly-mulched rows of tall, green plants spreading as far as the eye can see.

 

“Now that they’re big enough to be identifiable, we get a lot of people stopping and asking us questions about them, which is great,” said farmer Ben Edwards. “But the assumption is that it’s marijuana.”

Source: Machias Valley News Observer