These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.

An effort by a Republican Maine senator to do away with requiring permits to carry concealed handguns has sparked a fiery debate in Augusta. Sen. Eric Brakey told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Wednesday that it doesn't make sense that people don't need a permit as long as their firearm is visible, but need one the moment they put on a jacket. Maine State Police is also backing the bill. Maj. Christopher Grotton said the current system is ineffective and that resources would be better spent tracking down those who shouldn't have guns instead of regulating people complying with the law. But opponents, including some law enforcement,  say allowing anyone to carry a concealed firearm will put the safety of officers and the public at risk. (AP)

New England can reclaim its title as a manufacturing hub by working together to nurture the development of the advanced manufacturing industry. That's the conclusion of a new report by the nonpartisan New England Council. The new advanced manufacturing sector bears little resemblance to the shipyards and textile mills that dotted the region's landscape in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead it requires more technologically savvy workers to produce highly precise, customized components with complex designs, including those needed in the defense, aerospace and biotechnology fields. The report says the nurturing of the advanced manufacturing sector will also require coordination between government, schools and industries to ensure there are enough skilled workers to fill the needed jobs. The report says New England's six states should collaborate to support the industry. (AP)

A Portland developer wants to build Maine's largest solar power array at a former Navy radar site in Hancock County, but the project hinges on lawmakers passing a proposed law aimed in part at creating financial incentives for solar power. Gouldsboro Solar LLC has signed a letter of intent with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor to sell power from a 2.8 megawatt solar installation to the biomedical research lab. The $9 million project would feature 9,500 panels covering roughly 12 acres. It would generate enough power each year to serve 58,000 average Maine homes. For the project advance, a bill to require electricity suppliers to include new solar generation in their power portfolios must pass the Legislature. (AP)

Now that a jury has convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on all charges, the penalty phase will begin. Tsarnaev was found guilty Wednesday of 30 counts against him, including conspiracy and deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction. Seventeen of those charges are punishable by death. Jurors could start hearing evidence on Monday. (AP)

Phone service at the Kennebec County district attorney’s office has a problem with a new phone system. According to the KJ, it has been issues since Monday. That has been making it difficult for defense attorneys, police, defendants, witnesses and victims to make contact. In the meantime, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney suggested attorneys and defendants use email to contact the office. The problem should be resolved on Monday. (

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