Marina Villeneuve

Reporter, government and politics

Location icon United States of America

I am currently covering government and politics from my Northeast base in Maine for The Associated Press. I've reported from three countries in English and Spanish for the world's leading news outlets. I use records requests, sourcing, data and narratives to break news and dive into policy issues impacting people's lives.

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AP NEWS
06/06/2019
Maine moves to become third with plastic bag ban

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Maine Senate has moved the state a step closer to a ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery check-out lines. With a 24-9 vote Thursday, the Senate sent the bill to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who hasn't indicated her personal stance, but the bill is backed by Maine's environmental agency.

Marshall News Messenger
06/21/2019
Governor to sign bill creating legal framework for pot sales

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's governor plans to sign a bill in coming days to set up a legal framework for recreational marijuana sales, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Friday. The state's voters chose to legalize both the use and sale of recreational marijuana among adults in November 2016, but months of delays and political squabbles have slowed the implementation of a commercial industry.

AP NEWS
04/21/2019
APNewsBreak: Numbers of Maine lawmakers who went on to lobby

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - At least 14 Democrat and eight Republican lawmakers in Maine have gone on to register as paid lobbyists over the past three decades, a practice that is being targeted by a bill moving through the Legislature.

AP NEWS
03/27/2019
APNewsBreak: Ex-governor pardoned late mentor's grandson

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage pardoned his late mentor's grandson in the final days of his second four-year term, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press that detail pardons for crimes including drug trafficking, tax evasion and embezzlement of public funds.

AP NEWS
12/29/2018
Maine's governor leaves behind spotty legacy on transparency

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage promised to fight for citizens' rights to access information from Maine's government and kicked things off with a vow that his transition would be "the most transparent" in history. As he prepares to leave office eight years later, he leaves behind a spotty legacy on transparency.

AP NEWS
12/23/2018
Maine governor's success sometimes overshadowed by mouth

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Vowing to work to the last minute, Republican Gov. Paul LePage is too busy to ponder his fulfilled campaign promises or his abrasive style: "Let history determine who I was," he told The Associated Press during a brief hallway exchange at the Statehouse.

US News & World Report
'Dark Money' Helps Fuel Litany of Campaign Ads in ... Maine?

data powered by Best States is an interactive platform developed by U.S. News for ranking the 50 U.S. states, alongside news analysis and daily reporting. The platform is designed to engage citizens and government leaders in a discussion about what needs improvement across the country.

AP NEWS
09/07/2018
Governor says he'll keep blocking payments to AG office

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Friday he won't release $4.9 million that lawmakers budgeted for Democratic Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills' office until she provides him legal bills that are as detailed as those of private law firms. In an Aug.

AP NEWS
09/27/2018
APNewsBreak: Feds say no to LePage job-training penalties

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Federal officials told Gov. Paul LePage in June that he can't impose financial penalties on local groups that help job-seekers as part of his battle to cut bureaucracy out of job-training efforts, according to correspondence obtained this month by The Associated Press through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

AP NEWS
09/26/2018
As federal Medicaid funding declines, states mull costs

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's Republican governor has said federal regulators want to know how Maine would pay for Medicaid expansion. But it's unclear just how that issue will play out in Maine, the first state to pass Medicaid expansion under Republican President Trump's administration.

AP NEWS
09/12/2018
APNewsBreak: LifeFlight summoned during LePage health scare

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Gov. Paul LePage's health scare last month alarmed doctors enough that they summoned a LifeFlight helicopter to take him to a Bangor hospital. LePage confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was transported via LifeFlight, calling it a "nice" ride.

AP NEWS
08/16/2018
Governor's legal costs to rise as Medicaid lawsuit continues

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine could pay up to $200,000 for a Boston-based lawyer to defend the LePage administration in a lawsuit over voter-approved Medicaid expansion. The Department of Health and Human Services in a state form dated Monday proposed increasing the cost of a no-bid contract with law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park from $100,000 to $200,000 through December.

Bangor Daily News
Company fights to keep details of Bangor psychiatric home a secret

The company wants to prevent the release of its list of current and closed lawsuits - and full disclosure of its staffing, cost and operations proposals - because it says they are trade secrets.. Maine news, sports, politics, election results, and obituaries from the Bangor Daily News.

AP NEWS
08/10/2018
Independents uneasy about taking cash, even from indie group

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Hoping to capitalize on voter frustration over growing polarization in politics, a group fueled partly by what critics call "dark money" plans to spend $3 million this year to support and elect independents. But some free-spirited lawmakers are declining their help.

US News & World Report
Governor's Push Against Wind Permits Gets Day in Court

By MARINA VILLENEUVE, Associated Press PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage's lawyers on Friday asked a judge to toss a lawsuit challenging the governor's executive order to halt wind turbine permits in western and coastal regions of rural Maine. Advocacy groups challenged the constitutionality of LePage's January order, claiming it's causing uncertainty in the wind industry.

AP NEWS
Governor floats hospital tax to pay for Medicaid expansion

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Some lawmakers said Monday that Maine's Republican governor has been floating a new tax on hospitals to pay for voter-approved Medicaid expansion. Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau said that Gov. Paul LePage's administration has sent word the governor is considering the idea.

AP NEWS
04/30/2018
NOT REAL NEWS: Maine legislators did not vote for mutilation

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine lawmakers did not vote to allow female genital mutilation, despite reports circulating widely online. Several sites claimed Democrats in the Maine Legislature voted to allow the practice, which is common in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Female genital mutilation is already outlawed in the U.S.

AP NEWS
04/30/2018
NOT REAL NEWS: Maine legislators did not vote for mutilation

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine lawmakers did not vote to allow female genital mutilation, despite reports circulating widely online. Several sites claimed Democrats in the Maine Legislature voted to allow the practice, which is common in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Female genital mutilation is already outlawed in the U.S.

Bangor Daily News
Maine lobbyist calls out sexual misconduct at State House

Some of the lobbyists who allege misconduct are set to testify Wednesday in support of a proposed law that would mandate stricter anti-harassment training and education for lawmakers and their staffs and, for the first time, require the same training for lobbyists.

AP NEWS
02/15/2018
Critics say Maine slow to expand opioid care for uninsured

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Five uninsured Mainers benefited last year from a multimillion-dollar plan that was supposed to help combat the opioid crisis by expanding treatment to as many as 400 individuals with or without insurance. The state Department of Health and Human Services in a Feb.

The Seattle Times
02/11/2018
Maine's lame duck governor to work until 'very last minute'

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's outspoken governor has kicked off his final year in office by keeping a low profile. There have been no personal jabs, no radio rants. Which Paul LePage will show up for his final State of...

Boston.com
11/12/2018
In Maine, a new way of voting is facing its biggest test yet

"This will either fuel the adoption of ranked-choice voting in other jurisdictions, or it will stop it in its tracks." PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The election drew to a close last week in most places but not in fishing villages, potato farms and vast tracts of wilderness that comprise Maine's 2nd Congressional District.

chicagotribune.com
09/26/2018
As federal Medicaid funding declines, states mull costs

Maine's Republican governor has said federal regulators want to know how Maine would pay for Medicaid expansion. But it's unclear just how that issue will play out in Maine, the first state to pass Medicaid expansion under Republican President Trump 's administration.

Bellefontaine Examiner
08/04/2018
Report: Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration to investigate the 2016 presidential election uncovered no evidence to support the president's claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released.

Bangor Daily News
Company fights to keep details of Bangor psychiatric home a secret

The company wants to prevent the release of its list of current and closed lawsuits - and full disclosure of its staffing, cost and operations proposals - because it says they are trade secrets.. Maine news, sports, politics, election results, and obituaries from the Bangor Daily News.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
10/04/2018
Maine candidates aim for civility after firebrand governor

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's outgoing firebrand Republican governor has railed against his perceived opponents with fury and gusto over an eight-year tenure marked by profanity-laced controversy and a failed impeachment attempt. The four candidates running to succeed the governor who calls himself "Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular" are promising a more collaborative approach.

AP NEWS
07/23/2018
Judge tosses challenge of order halting wind turbines

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A judge has tossed a legal challenge of Republican Gov. Paul LePage's executive order halting wind turbine permits in parts of Maine, while leaving the door open to revisit the topic. Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton said in his decision Friday that the governor has admitted that his own administration is not enforcing the executive order.

AP NEWS
09/27/2018
APNewsBreak: Feds say no to LePage job-training penalties

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Federal officials told Gov. Paul LePage in June that he can't impose financial penalties on local groups that help job-seekers as part of his battle to cut bureaucracy out of job-training efforts, according to correspondence obtained this month by The Associated Press through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

The Seattle Times
12/26/2017
Maine House makes room for more independent lawmakers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A small but growing number of independent state lawmakers who have weakened Democrats' hold on the House hope to promote compromise as independents seek to gain ground nationally in 2018. The Maine House has its highest...

The Seattle Times
10/30/2017
Maine Medicaid expansion vote seen as 'Obamacare' referendum

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The roiling national debate over the government's proper role in health care is coming to a head in a state more commonly known for moose, lobster and L.L. Bean. On Nov. 7, voters in Maine will...

The Seattle Times
02/04/2018
Liberals seek universal home care for elderly, disabled

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Liberals backed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros have launched an effort for Maine to be the first state to ensure all elderly and disabled people have access to help with daily activities from bathing to medication...

The Seattle Times
12/21/2017
Legislature has 2 sexual misconduct complaints since 2008

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Over the last decade, the Maine Legislature has received two complaints of sexual misconduct or harassment against legislators, records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press through a public records request show. Both complaints were against House...

The Seattle Times
02/09/2018
Governor moves to empty prison as lawmakers mull its future

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage moved Friday to empty a minimum security prison as Maine lawmakers debated the future of the facility, which costs $5 million per year to run. Lawmakers fought LePage's moves last year to...

The Seattle Times
03/18/2018
Costs for lawsuits involving Maine governor exceed $100K

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Lawsuits in which Republican Gov. Paul LePage hired outside legal representation have cost the state at least $110,000 since last fall, raising the total expenditures to at least half a million dollars over the past four...

AP News
NOT REAL NEWS: Maine legislators did not vote for mutilation

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine lawmakers did not vote to allow female genital mutilation, despite reports circulating widely online. Several sites claimed Democrats in the Maine Legislature voted to allow the practice, which is common in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Female genital mutilation is already outlawed in the U.S.

The Seattle Times
04/20/2018
Student from Zambia ruled eligible for US poetry contest

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A high school student in Maine who fled his native Zambia can compete in a U.S. government-funded poetry contest, a federal judge ruled Friday. The National Endowment for the Arts had blocked the 11th-grader's participation, saying...

The Seattle Times
04/17/2018
Maine's high court clears way for ranked-choice voting

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's highest court on Tuesday cleared the way for a system in which voters are allowed to rank their candidate choices during the June primaries. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to weigh into constitutional claims by...

miamiherald
Advocates to sue to force Maine to expand Medicaid

Advocates filed a lawsuit Monday to force Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration to roll out Medicaid expansion as voters demanded in November. A legal aid group, health organizations and individuals who could receive Medicaid coverage filed a suit in state court against Maine's Department of Health and Human Services and Ricker Hamilton, its commissioner.

Chicago Tribune
2/15/2018
Critics Say Maine Slow to Expand Opioid Care for Uninsured

Five uninsured Mainers benefited last year from a multimillion-dollar plan that was supposed to help combat the opioid crisis by expanding treatment to as many as 400 individuals with or without insurance.

Bangor Daily News
02/27/2018
Maine lobbyist calls out sexual misconduct at State House

Some of the lobbyists who allege misconduct are set to testify Wednesday in support of a proposed law that would mandate stricter anti-harassment training and education for lawmakers and their staffs and, for the first time, require the same training for lobbyists.. Maine news, sports, politics, election results, and obituaries from the Bangor Daily News.

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