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Politics

LePage Prevails in Battle Over Allowing Stores to Open on Holidays

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House has sustained Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of legislation allowing local cities and towns to decide if stores up to 10,000 square feet can be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

The vote was 87 to 51 to override the veto, well short of the two-thirds vote needed. 

Rep. James Gilway, a Republican from Searsport, sponsored the bill as an economic development tool for rural Maine towns. “The chief executive talks of nibbling away at the blue laws in Maine. We have been nibbling for years. There are 33 exemptions,” he says.

The "blue law" Gilway refers to bars stores in Maine from opening on the three holidays, but over the years lawmakers have approved dozens of exemptions, such as mom and pop grocery stores. 

In his veto message, the governor said the bill would allow towns to select winners and losers in the state’s economy and he couldn’t support that.  He wants total repeal of restrictions on businesses operating on holidays.

House Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette, of Newport, supported overriding the veto. “This is a bill that  provides a pathway to local communities, particularly in rural Maine, to be able to have a greater say in being able to have economic development in their areas,” he says.