AUGUSTA – Lawmakers took final action Wednesday on legislation that included a bill to allow fireworks in Maine and a bill to pave the way for the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor to expand its gambling offerings.

The House and Senate adjourned for the session Wednesday evening, ending six months of work on more than 1,500 bills. Legislators are expected to return in September to consider reapportionment of Maine’s congressional districts and, possibly, nominations by the governor.

The fireworks bill, L.D. 83, will allow sales of consumer fireworks except in municipalities that vote to prohibit them.

The legislation will regulate those who sell fireworks, requiring them to get permits from the state and pay an initial $5,000 fee.

Starting Jan. 1, fireworks will be legal to use everywhere in Maine, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Damon, R-Bangor.

Damon said he sponsored the bill because people in Maine already use fireworks, but there are no safety programs because fireworks are illegal.

He said the new industry will create jobs and generate revenue for the state through the sales tax.

“It’s like alcohol,” he said. “If you manage it, it works for you. It’s revenue.”

The final House vote was 76-61 in favor of the bill, and the final Senate vote was 20-12.

Damon also sponsored L.D. 1418, which allows Hollywood Slots to offer table games if they are approved by Penobscot County citizens, who will vote on the issue in November. The measure passed 23-11 on a final Senate vote Wednesday.

Damon, a Realtor, said he works next to the racino, which he considers a good business in Bangor.

He said the legislation was necessary so Hollywood Slots can expand beyond slot machines and offer the same types of games that will be offered at the voter-approved casino in Oxford, which is scheduled to open next year.

He said Hollywood Slots would hire nearly 90 more people and send more money to the state through a revenue-sharing agreement.

Gov. Paul LePage, who had said he might veto the bill, is likely to sign it now that it calls for a countywide vote, said his spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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