August 25, 2019
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Maine House rejects LePage veto of nip bottle deposit bill

Judy Long | BDN file
Judy Long | BDN file
A bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House voted 114-31 Tuesday to overturn Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to add small liquor bottles known as nips to Maine’s bottle redemption program.

The bill, LD 56, sponsored by Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D-Sanford, would add wine or spirits containers of 50 milliliters and smaller in size to the state’s bottle redemption program as of January 2019. In Maine’s program, consumers pay a 5-cent deposit up front and then recoup that cost at a bottle redemption center. The bill is aimed at so-called nips, which are the smallest bottles spirits are sold in. The bill originally garnered a 32-3 support in the Senate and a 111-34 vote in the House.

LePage suggested in his veto letter that to help with the littering problem identified by proponents of the bill, Maine should increase and enforce littering penalties or stop the sale of nips in Maine altogether.

“If the Legislature is really concerned about litter, delisting nips will ensure that they are not sold in Maine, and fewer of them end up as litter,” LePage said in a written statement last month.

Maine sold 8.4 million nips in the 2016 fiscal year — a number that has grown by 40 percent in each of the past five years, according to testimony from state liquor regulators, who projected sales above $12 million in the next year. Banning nips could cut into state revenues, according to Republican Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton.

Maine made $3 million off of nips in the 2016 fiscal year, according to figures provided to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. If Maine sells $14 million worth of nips in 2018, Saviello said it would equal $6 million in profit, which he argued would offset costs in the bill.

Consideration of LePage’s veto now goes to the Senate, where a two-thirds vote to override the veto is required to enact the bill.



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