AUGUSTA, Maine — Despite Gov. Paul LePage’s objections, Maine will require a 5-cent deposit on tiny “nip” bottles of liquor after the Senate on Wednesday overrode the Republican governor’s veto of a bill that originally mandated a 15-cent deposit.
The bill, which has been hotly debated in recent weeks, will require Mainers to pay a 5 cent deposit on the diminutive bottles, which they can recoup along with deposits on the rest of their bottles and cans at any of Maine’s redemption centers.
However, LePage has threatened to “delist” nips, meaning they would no longer be sold in Maine.
LePage’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the bill and veto override votes. The governor is on a trade mission to Finland through Thursday.
The Senate’s 29-6 vote to override LePage’s veto Wednesday follows a 114-31 rejection of the veto Tuesday in the House.
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. The bill originally garnered a 32-3 support in the Senate and a 111-34 vote in the House.
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.
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