For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - House Democrats voted today to kill a bill that would allow licensed cigar lounges to offer refreshments to their customers. Republicans stood in support of the commonsense measure to allow small businesses do more to attract and retain customers. There are currently two cigar lounges in the state to which the bill would apply.
As originally proposed, LD 22, "An Act to Promote Equity in Business Opportunity for Tobacco Specialty Stores," would have allowed cigar lounges to serve snacks, drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Under current law, customers cannot even chew gum in a cigar lounge.
In the face of clear Democratic opposition on the committee, the bill's sponsor, Senator James Hamper (R-Oxford), introduced an amendment in an attempt to reach across the aisle. As amended, the bill would allow cigar lounges to simply serve alcoholic beverages to their customers. Democrats steadfastly opposed even this reasonable compromise.
Today's vote comes after a series of bills introduced by Democrats that aim to hamstring small businesses or regulate Mainers' behavior, including a bill to prohibit teenagers from tanning even with parental consent, a bill to roll back bipartisan workers' compensation laws dating back 20 years, bills to prohibit cell phone use while driving and require helmets when riding motorcycles, and many more.
"This economy will grow when we stop telling Mainers what to do and stop regulating our businesses to death," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). "This is just ridiculous, there's no reason why these cigar lounges shouldn't be able to serve refreshments. It's the judgment of the business owners that they will generate more business if they can serve refreshments, and more business is what we need."
The measure garnered a handful of Democratic votes but was ultimately voted down by majority Democrats, 82-62.
Maine House Republicans
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