In this Feb. 6, 2019, file photo, Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a news conference in the State House in Augusta. Mills is accompanied by Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty, left, Director of Opioid Response Gordon Smith, second from right, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Good morning from Augusta. Hearings on Gov. Janet Mills’ two-year budget proposal continue on Wednesday in the judiciary, criminal justice and environment committees.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We don’t want to call the police on them all the time,” said Bob Sinclair of Orono, who worked with the town’s new community policing division to resolve an issue with noisy college students next door. The program is the latest example of how Maine towns are reshaping their police forces after last year’s nationwide protests.

What we’re watching today

The federal government wants all teachers vaccinated in March, with Maine cracking the door open to changes but saying it needs more information. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. will have enough doses for vaccines for 300 million Americans by the end of May — two months sooner than his administration had previously planned. The president also directed states to ensure every educator and child care worker gets one dose by March’s end.

This would require major changes in Maine, the only state using an age-based system for vaccine distribution at this point, with people in their 60s eligible to receive vaccinations beginning today. While the state has noted that its vaccination process will accelerate if supply increases, it is taking heat from teachers and those with chronic health conditions for its plan.

Health officials defended Mills’ age-only strategy again on Tuesday, with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah saying the risk of additional contagious variants arriving in Maine is spurring the state to try to vaccinate as many people as possible, but Biden’s announcement could spur further changes.

After the announcement, Mills spokesperson Lindsay Crete said the governor shares Biden’s goal but emphasized her desire to protect those most at risk of serious illness and death from the virus and that Maine needs more information about the increased supply first. 

The Maine Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union, praised the directive and said it expects educators will receive greater priority. Teachers and school staff had received some sort of prioritized status in 34 states as of late February, according to Bloomberg News, with nearly all states expecting to add them in March and April. 

Maine is not among them for now, though the state has announced plans for special clinics for teachers within qualifying age ranges. There have been few details on that to date, but Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Tuesday the state plans to work with existing clinics on that plan.

The Maine politics top 3

— “The pandemic is pushing many Mainers into new lines of work,” Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News: “The industry could be one of the most affected by the pandemic reshuffling of the economy. Steve Hewins, executive director of the HospitalityMaine Education Foundation, is optimistic about the industry’s recovery, saying there is pent-up demand for travel and leisure similar to after the Sept. 11 attacks and Great Recession. But he worries about whether the industry can quickly rehire enough people when tourism demand returns.” Here’s your soundtrack.

— “Former Maine DA hopeful arrested on sex crime charges in Florida,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “[Seth] Carey is best known for his legal trouble and his 2018 run for district attorney, when he shocked many by winning a primary over Alex Willette, a former legislator who was a Sagadahoc County prosecutor at the time and later went onto a White House job under former President Donald Trump. Carey was beaten easily in the general election by Democrat Andrew Robinson.”

FBI accuses former Jackson Lab researcher of failing to disclose China connections,” Bill Trotter, BDN: “According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Bangor, Yijun Ruan was listed as the primary investigator on 17 Jackson Lab research projects that received more than $15 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health from 2014 through 2020. But Ruan failed to disclose on those applications that he also held jobs with Huazhong Agricultural University and Shenzhen People’s Hospital in China, which could be a violation of federal wire fraud laws, according to the FBI.”

Maine senators make parks news

Biden’s Interior nominee is set to be confirmed after the state’s Republican senator said she would back her. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday she would support U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, who would be the first Native American to serve in a Cabinet position, citing her pledge to work in a bipartisan manner and support for certain initiatives at Acadia National Park. Collins’ vote, plus the backing of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, effectively cinches the nomination.

Maine’s junior senator will chair a key subcommittee on national parks. U.S. Sen. Angus King announced new assignments on Wednesday, including two subcommittee chairmanships including a Senate Energy and Natural Resources panel on national parks and another under the Senate Armed Services Committee on arms control and nuclear policy.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jessica Piper, Michael Shepherd and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

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Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...