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House Passes Bill to Let Towns Decide Whether Stores Are Allowed to Open on Holidays

The Maine House has voted in favor of a change in the state’s blue laws, which would allow local communities to decide whether to allow stores of up to 10,000 square feet to be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Supporters of the proposal have argued that local cities and towns can best decide whether to allow stores to be open on major holidays.

Rep. James Gillway, a Searsport Republican who sponsored the measure, says it’s an issue of local control.

“I could care less if the town down the road from me wants to have their local grocery store open or not. I care about Main Street Searsport and my people in my town care about Main Street Searsport,” he says.

Opponents argued the policy should be statewide and should not be changed, so affected workers can be sure that they have the holiday off.

“I do not believe it would be prudent to put local governmental bodies in a position to choose between well-intentioned businesses and those who wish to spend these holidays with their families and, should they be inclined to, with their religious communities,” says Democratic state Rep. Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford.

The bill faces further votes in the state Senate.