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Governor LePage says he will sign St. Patrick's Day bill

6:03 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - It may be the luck of the Irish, or even the result of a little blarney. But the Legislature and the Governor have agreed to let Maine bars open early this St. Patrick's Day.

The holiday is on Sunday, and normally that would mean bars and restaurants couldn't serve alcohol until nine in the morning. That's why some of the bar owners and their customers asked the politicians for help. But starting in late February, the bill got caught up in arguments between Democrats, Republicans and the Governor over paying the state's hospital debt.

Republicans and the Governor went after the St. Patrick's bill to pressure Democrats, accusing them of having more interest in pushing a bar bill through quickly than in passing the Governor's hospital bill. The Governor threatened to veto every bill until lawmakers dealt with the hospitals.That threat had included the St. Patrick's Day bill, but on Wednesday, the Governor met with bill sponsor Rep. Barry Hobbins. Hobbins says the Governor agreed to support and sign the bill and encourage Republicans to pass it.

Today, both the House and Senate gave final passage to the bill by the two-thirds margin needed for the law to take effect as soon as the Governor signs it. Thursday afternoon, the Governor's office confirms he will sign the bill as a "goodwill gesture" toward both parties in the Legislature, and to help the businesses.

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