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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/14/13

St. Patrick's Day Drinking Hours Bill Passes in House

Vote comes in wake of bipartisan agreement to pay hospital debt

AUGUSTA - The Maine House today passed LD 216, "An Act To Extend the Hours for the Sale of Liquor on Sunday When St. Patrick's Day Is on a Sunday," sponsored by Rep. Barry Hobbins (D-Saco). The bill to extend drinking hours from 9:00 AM to 6:00 AM initially met a cold reception from Governor LePage and Republicans who were frustrated by Democratic stalling on the governor's hospital proposal and their hesitance to prioritize hospital debt repayment over new spending.

"Many Republicans had a hard time passing a relatively minor bill such as this, especially when it had been fast-tracked through the legislative process, when the parties still hadn't made any progress on paying $500 million in overdue bills to Maine's hospitals," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). "The agreement that Republicans and Democrats reached Monday that the hospitals should indeed be paid made this bill much more palatable to us and to the governor, I'm sure."

The measure passed in the House, 105-32, and is expected to be signed by the Governor before St. Patrick's Day, which is the last St. Patrick's Day to fall on a Sunday until 2019.

"There's more of a sense this week that Democrats and Republicans are reaching some common ground and there's light at the end of the tunnel for this hospital debt issue," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette. "I voted for it because I see it as a harmless measure to help some small businesses while promoting cultural heritage."

"We have to make progress on the big problems facing our state, and we made some progress this week," said Fredette, who added that he supports Rep. Hobbins's bill.

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David Sorensen, Communications Director
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793