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Bill to Include Deposit on Mini Liquor Bottles Clears Committee

Susan Sharon
Maine Public
Miniature liquor bottles found near Maine Public's Lewiston studios on Tuesday.

A bill that would expand Maine’s 15-cent deposit to miniature liquor bottles could be taken up by rank-and-file lawmakers as soon as next month.

Supporters of the measure, such as co-sponsor Rep. Betty Austin, a Skowhegan Democrat, say the deposit is needed to clear the highways of the discarded 50-milliliter liquor bottles, also known as “nips.” She says current practices suggest that many Mainers need to be more aware of where they’re drinking and what they’re doing with their empty bottles.

“It’s probably people who are walking because you find them fairly close to the store where they probably bought them,” she says. “But yes, I really wonder about the implication that people are getting out of work, go grab something like this, drinking it while they’re driving and then throw it to the side of the road.”

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Lance Harvell, a Farmington Republican, says that in his district, the bottles are piling up along the shoulder of the road not far from where the liquor is sold.

“You can almost time how long it would take these people to either drink this or pour it into his drink by where you find it on the road,” he says. “It’s quite near, or just about the distance from this one store, and so that’s where they’re finding a lot of them and so it’s right along the main highway there.”

Lobbyists for the liquor industry opposed the bill, saying the measure would be anti-business.

Lawmakers on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted 9-3 Monday to support an amended version of LD 56, which will give state liquor distributors more time to evaluate the cost of applying tiny deposit stickers to the little bottles.