State

Bill inspired by First Mile Brewing in Fort Kent becomes law

AUGUSTA, Maine – A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash and Sen. Louie Luchini, D-Ellsworth to support small businesses in the food and beverage industry was signed into law by Gov. Janet T. Mills on March 17. LD 306, “An Act To Temporarily Waive Certain Requirements for Relicensing for Restaurants That Serve Liquor” makes it easier for restaurants and other small businesses that serve beer, wine or spirits to apply for or renew their restaurant license in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “In Maine, this pandemic has proven what we already knew: Mainers are resilient people with a work ethic that is simply unmatched. All you have to do is take a look at how our small business owners have responded in the face of extraordinary challenges. So when First Mile Brewing reached out about this commonsense reform, I was thrilled to partner with them on a measure that could help restaurants and brewpubs all across the state,” said Jackson. “As we look to the future and work to revitalize our economy, we must work with small businesses to make it easier for them to keep their doors open and rebound.”

This new law temporarily waives the requirement that 10 percent of all sales must be in food for the renewal of licenses that expire before Jan. 1, 2022. It also automatically grants a 90-day extension to all restaurant licenses that were licensed during the shutdown portion of March to June 2020 at no cost.

 “Small businesses in the restaurant industry have been particularly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, both through the health and safety limitations on indoor dining and the lack of tourists,” said. Luchini, who serves as Senate chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “These are simple steps to boost an industry that has managed to make ends meet while scaling back their business for the better part of a year.”

 Typically, to obtain a restaurant license in Maine an establishment must have food available for sale (not including prepackaged snack foods), food must make up at least 10 percent of all sales, and the on-hand inventory of food must equal $2 per seat in the establishment. This law makes temporary changes to support small businesses harmed by the pandemic.

The new law passed as an emergency measure and therefore takes effect immediately.

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