AUGUSTA — Legislation that could stretch the closing time for Maine bars from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. is needed so tourist towns can better compete with Canada and other New England states, Rep. Wayne Parry, R-Arundel, told fellow lawmakers Monday.

Parry has submitted a bill that would allow cities and towns that have their own police departments to extend Maine’s current closing time to 2 a.m. if they decided to do so locally.

“In talking to many of the businesses in our tourist industry, this is an issue,” Parry said. He said many visitors to Maine come from states with later closing times and noted that Maine remained among only five states with a 1 a.m. closing time.

Parry said the bill is meant to help Maine’s tourist areas, especially its coastal communities in the summer, its ski resorts in the winter and the state’s two casinos, in Bangor and Oxford.

“Let’s remember, it’s a local community’s choice and not a statewide mandate,” Parry said. “If communities don’t want to do this, they don’t have to.”

The bill, L.D. 1107, was presented Monday to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Some committee members questioned whether different closing times in different towns might prompt people to hop from one town to the next in order to get a couple of more drinks.


“You could imagine that somebody in a bar in Brewer that closes at 1 would want to drive down the road to Bangor to catch another drink or two when they are going to close at 2. Wouldn’t you consider that to be a problem?” Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, asked.

Parry said that may not necessarily be the case, especially at resorts with hotels such as the casinos. Others on the committee suggested that people make the bad decision to drive while under the influence when the bars close at 1, and that changing the closing time wouldn’t make the problem worse.

The bill is similar to one proposed by Gov. Paul LePage in 2015 that would have extended closing time for Maine bars to 2 a.m. from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. LePage’s bill was voted down in the House, with 86 representatives voting against it and 62 voting in favor. The Senate followed suit and concurred with the House, killing the bill.

Rich Redmond, the owner of seven bars and restaurants in the Old Orchard Beach area, said Monday he supports the latest proposed change because it would make it easier for Maine’s tourism market to compete with New Hampshire and Canada.

Redmond, who employs 250 workers, said one of the biggest complaints from tourists is Maine’s 1 a.m. closing time. “We would like to be on an equal playing ground as being able to market our area to say, ‘Come and we have the same opportunities to do things like you have.’ “

Redmond said he wouldn’t keep all seven of his restaurants open until 2 a.m., especially those that are focused primarily on dining, but he would keep his busier bars open later to cater to younger people who want to stay out longer. “I think Maine needs to move forward,” Redmond said.

Another bonus for longer operations for bars would be more sales tax for the state, advocates said. Redmond said his bars and restaurants collect about $250,000 a year in sales tax for Maine.

“I think we ought to capitalize on getting that extra hour of tax dollars and use it for our great state of Maine,” Redmond said.

There was no opposition to the bill. A work session for the legislation has not yet been scheduled.

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