Mal Leary

MPBN’s Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads MPBN's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University Of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

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Eight new state troopers were sworn in at ceremonies at the criminal justice academy last week, but that has done little to ease the vacancies at the Maine State Police.

Lawmakers gave pay raises ranging from 12 percent to 18 percent to troopers after they were convinced the state police was not competitive with other law enforcement agencies both in and out of state.

Veterans Affairs is celebrating its 150th anniversary with ceremonies at the oldest VA hospital in the nation — Togus VA center in Augusta, which was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln as the site for a home for veterans in Sept. 1866.

In his second inaugural address, Lincoln laid out what VA Secretary Bob McDonald calls the covenant between the people of the United States and its veterans. It’s the part where Lincoln says we have to care for he who has borne the battle, his widow and orphan.

Maine is following the national trend of an improving economy, with household income up and the official poverty rate down.

James Mayall of the Maine Center for Economic Policy says median income in Maine is up.

“Median income went from about $49,500 in 2014 to $51,500, so an increase of about $2,000. That represents a 4 percent increase,” he says.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

The Coast Guard has awarded Eastern Shipbuilders of Florida the contract for the first of its new offshore cutters, which is bad news for Bath Iron Works and its workers.

Eastern Shipyards beat out BIW and a Louisiana shipyard for the contract to build the first of what is expected to be 25 new cutters to replace the aging Coast Guard fleet. Maine’s congressional delegation lobbied hard for BIW, but analysts had said BIW’s higher costs, mostly for energy, could play into the decision.

The Senate Aging Committee, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, has released a study on how to maximize Social Security benefits.

Collins says many are facing a retirement crisis by not getting all the benefits they are entitled to.

“Far too many Americans have not saved enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Many of these retirees will rely on Social Security for nearly all their income,” she says.

There is a backlog of 450,000 appeals for benefits pending before Veterans Affairs, and it’s growing.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King told a Washington news conference that currently there is only one way for a veteran to appeal his or her case to the administration, and if a veteran makes a simple mistake, the process can go back to square one.

“Those kinds of things are just unacceptable, and we have it within our power this week or next week or certainly before the end of the year to fix this, and I certainly hope we will,” he says.

Members of the Augusta planning board put the brakes on the LePage administration’s plan to build a new unit to house a group of forensic patients currently at the Riverview Psychiatric Center.

The only formal opposition to the proposal to build the 21-bed facility adjacent to Riverview was NAMI Maine, a group that advocates for those with mental illness. They say they can’t figure out whether the new facility is a hospital or a prison, but say it sounds like a prison.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding hearings on how to protect against cyberattacks on the military, and on crucial civilian infrastructure such as telecommunications and the electric grid.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine serves on the Armed Services Committee and is very worried about the vulnerability of the U.S. to cyberattacks on both military and civilian targets. He says as the world’s most wired nation, we are the most vulnerable to internet-based attacks.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The latest Census data indicate that a higher percentage of Maine residents have health insurance coverage than the nation as a whole.

AUGUSTA, Maine - In the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Maine joined with other states to launch a campaign asking people to contact police if they saw something suspicious.  A revival of that program was launched today at a news conference in Augusta.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says the Coast Guard will announce which yard gets to build a new class of Coast Guard cutters this month, before the end of the federal budget year.

“BIW, from talking to the people there, put in a very aggressive bid,” he says. “They really worked hard to be competitive on this bid.”

Bath Iron Works is competing with shipyards in Louisiana and Florida for a contract to build up to 25 new cutters over several years at a total cost of over $10 billion.

King says the contract could mean additional jobs for the yard.

AUGUSTA, Maine_ It was in the spring of last year that state officials declared its new $57 million public safety radio system operational, but almost immediately, problems with the system became apparent, including dropped calls, interference, and dead zones. All those issues are still being addressed through updates and upgrades. 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has written to a group of eleven lawmakers who requested he act under the state Constitution to remove Gov.Paul LePage from office, on the grounds that the governor is  unfit for the job.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine’s Drought Task Force says a severe drought continues in part of the state, with no relief in sight.

AUGUSTA, Maine - At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Aging, Sen. Susan Collins, chair of the panel, called for greater federal action to address the growing gap between retirement savings and retirement needs. "It is clear that that Congress and the administration must do more to address the looming retirement crisis,” Collins said.