AUGUSTA – The legislature is in session and as normally happens, the state’s lawmakers are wrestling with the budget, safety in the schools, and taxes, but Rep. Paul Gilbert would like them to think about one more thing.
Legislators heard testimony on January 30 from Gilbert and others urging them to expand the legal start time for alcohol sales.
Currently, businesses may not sell alcohol before 6 a.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. on Sundays.
Gilbert a democrat representing the traditional blue-collar towns of Chesterville, Jay, Mercer, New Sharon and Starks feels that ‘‘In my district, and across the state, there are many workers whose shifts end before 5 a.m. These people should be able to buy alcohol without waiting until 6 a.m.’’
While submitting the bill, Gilbert said a constituent who owned a local business contacted him and the owner told Gilbert her business would benefit from having an extra hour in the day to sell alcohol. A spokesman for the state’s convenience store trade association reaffirmed this later in the day.
‘‘The change of this law would not only be good for business, but it would make easier the lives of many hard-working Mainers,’’ Gilbert said.
Maine has a long history of paper and textile mills and most of the workers in these manufacturing operations are shift workers. The committee was told Wednesday that an increasing numbers of workers are going on long, 12-hour shifts, which often end in the early-morning hours.
‘‘These workers should not be denied their choice of beverage simply because they work at night,’’ Dick Grotton, president of the Maine Restaurant Association, told lawmakers.
At the legislative session on January 30, no one spoke against the proposed bill.