AUGUSTA, Maine — Bottoms up.
In a party-line vote Thursday, the Maine House of Representatives voted 83-62 in favor of a bill that would require bars and restaurants that advertise “pints of beer” to serve the suds in a 16-ounce glass.
The bill, LD 122, authored by Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, unanimously was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday but faced some stiff Republican opposition in the House, where conservative lawmakers said the measure created an unnecessary new regulation for business owners in Maine.
Patrick’s bill would allow Maine’s liquor inspectors to check the size of a “pint” glasses at bars and restaurants as part of their other liquor license inspections.
The bill, according to Patrick, is necessary to protect consumers from being sold 14-ounce beers in “cheater” pint glasses and ensure a customer gets 16 ounces of beer when ordering a pint.
“We have federal laws and we have Maine state laws that address truth in advertising and for this — this statute under Maine’s liquor laws would truly be redundant,” Rep. Jonathan Kinney, R-Limington, said.
Kinney was among only two Republicans voting against the bill when it passed the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the state’s liquor laws.
But Thursday, Kinney’s Republican colleagues in the House joined him in opposing the measure, raising doubts that the measure could survive a veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
Democrats said the bill is aimed at protecting consumers in Maine and doing so in a way that did not involve a complex legal proceeding that would result from a truth-in-advertising complaint against a business.
“To be clear this doesn’t make any requirements that a bar would have to buy certain glassware, it doesn’t say they would have to serve a pint, it simply says that if they advertise a pint they have to serve a pint, in a glass that can at least hold a pint,” said state Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the House chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.
Other Democrats said the bill was aimed at keeping people from getting ripped off at the tavern.
Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, the House minority leader, said the bill could open the door for a host of onerous regulations for restaurants and bars.
“In weighing the balance of this bill, I have to look at this from the perspective of adding yet another regulation to our business sector,” Fredette said. “Where do we stop the regulations? Do we pass a bill next to say a 6-ounce steak — we are going to start measuring and regulating whether a 6-ounce steak is in fact a 6-ounce steak or whether or not if you order an alcoholic beverage there can only be so much ice in the alcoholic beverage and there can only be so much lime and so much orange? Where does it stop and where does it end?”
The bill will face additional votes in the Senate and the House before going to LePage. Lacking a two-thirds majority support in the House, the bill would be unlikely to survive a LePage veto.