AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci said Tuesday he supports the idea of banning the gasoline additive MTBE in Maine, but will review the language of a bill to do that before signing it.

A bill that received final Senate approval Monday outlaws the sale of gasoline containing the octane-enhancing additive, which was supposed to help reduce air pollution but is blamed for contaminating groundwater.

The ban, similar to one in effect in several other states, has been proposed three times in Maine. The latest proposal gained momentum after efforts to promote a national ban were stalled.

New York and Connecticut decided to go ahead and ban MTBE, reducing chances Maine would experience supply disruptions and higher gas prices if a ban is adopted.

Under the bill sent to Baldacci, Maine’s ban would take effect in January 2007.

Senate OKs bill requiring taped questioning in some cases

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Further votes are expected Wednesday on a bill to require video or audio taping of interrogations in cases involving murder, gross sexual assault, and those in which juveniles are charged.

Maine will become the fourth state to require taping if the bill, which received initial Senate approval on Monday, becomes law.

The measure was debated and endorsed by a 21-14 Senate roll call.

The sponsor, Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, said the bill protects police from false accusations of misconduct while also protecting the rights of defendants. It also ensures that interrogations are done in appropriate locations.

Supporters include the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Portland branch of the NAACP and the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

At a hearing on the bill last fall, police said the law is not needed. They said it’s already common practice by investigators in homicides and other serious crimes to tape interviews.

The bill faces further House and Senate votes. Alaska, Illinois and Minnesota have similar laws.

Legislature kills bill to allow town’s deorganization

AUGUSTA (AP) – A bill to allow the rural town of Atkinson to put itself out of business is dead for this legislative session. The House voted Friday to go along with the Senate and reject the bill, putting it in the dead files.

The bill sought to allow the Piscataquis County town of about 330 people to deorganize, pending a local referendum, as a way to cut taxes.

Atkinson residents wanted to have the town join Maine’s unorganized territory, but state officials said that could throw the door open for other heavily taxed rural towns to deorganize.

AP-ES-04-06-04 1420EDT

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