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What we’re talking about

LePage accuses Maine cities of ‘breaking the laws’ on General Assistance — Jake reports:

Gov. Paul LePage accused Maine’s largest cities of “breaking the laws” by giving certain poor immigrants General Assistance benefits and suggested that his budget proposal to eliminate the $12.1 million welfare program is political payback against Portland and other municipalities that have defied his repeated attempts to exclude such people.

“You follow the rules, there would have been no problems,” LePage said Tuesday on WVOM radio. “But if you try to not follow the rules and you use the money for illegal immigrants, then you get what you pay for.”

Portland officials denied the city has broken any laws, but LePage’s comments lend new insight into why he is looking to eliminate a decades-old welfare program that helps feed and house thousands of poor Mainers, after a year that saw the state run a nearly $93 million budget surplus. In addition to benefits funding, LePage’s proposal to cut General Assistance would eliminate $2.3 million of staffing and administrative spending.

JUST IN: ‘Trump expected to sign executive orders on immigration’ — Reuters reports:

President Donald Trump was expected to sign several executive orders restricting immigration on Wednesday, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

Trump’s orders were expected to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.

Watch the surf pound the rocks at Portland Head Light without getting wet — We braved the elements today to get video footage of the storm surge coming ashore in Cape Elizabeth. Offshore wind gusts of almost 40 mph provided plenty of drama. Precipitation and windy conditions are expected to last into Wednesday. — Troy R. Bennett

Salt Institute to offer three spring intensives at MECA — The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, which is now part of the Maine College of Art, is offering three week-long storytelling intensives this March in Portland. The continuing studies courses will focus on short documentary filmmaking, documentary photography and radio storytelling. — Troy R. Bennett

LePage is coming to BiddefordThe town hall will be held at Biddeford Middle School at 25 Tiger Way. Doors open to the public at 5:30 p.m., and the event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Here’s what happened the last time he had a town hall in Biddeford.

Thai Street food for dessert? — That’s right. New Englanders weaned on Indian Pudding can put grandma’s dessert aside now that Sticky Sweet has come to town. Two sisters are marrying mango, blueberry and bananas with bamboo-steamed rice drizzled in maple syrup. Check out the newest food stall now open at the Public Market House. — Kathleen Pierce  

Here’s the nitty gritty on Sen. Collins’ Obamacare replacement plan — The BDN’s Jackie Farwell lays out the three options states have under the proposal.

What happened after the India Street clinic closedThe Press Herald’s Randy Billings finds mixed results in Portland’s transfer of a $356,500 federal grant for HIV health care from the India Street Public Health Clinic to the nonprofit Greater Portland Health. The grant funded care for 229 patients, but only 33 have transferred to wGreater Portland Health, while the vast majority of the others have moved to health care providers elsewhere in the city or state. And none of the eight city employees who worked at India Street transitioned to Greater Portland Health after their jobs at the city clinic were cut. — Jake Bleiberg

Tweet of the day

From Kate Sheppard. The tweet from Badlands was Screenshot 2017-01-24 15.47.23

The Big Idea

What Trump spiking an Asia trade deal could mean for Maine — Darren Fishell reports:

Overall, a study commissioned by the state concluded in November 2016 that the deal would have a modest positive benefit for Maine, which it assessed by projecting economic growth through 2032.

By that year, the report estimated the deal would have resulted in a net gain of 554 jobs and raised real state income by about $212 million. The boost wouldn’t be evenly distributed. For example, the study by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine projected wood products output would dip about $18 million.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...