Maine State Representative Maine Barry Hobbins is pushing what has been nicknamed the ‘Irish Bill’ in order to accommodate earlier drinking hours for St. Patrick’s Day this year since it falls on a Sunday.
Currently, under Maine’s “blue laws,” the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants prior to 9AM on Sundays is prohibited. With his new bill, Rep. Hobbins is looking to push that hour up to 6AM for when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday.
"It's fun, everybody says you're sponsoring 'The Irish Bill' and they're all giving me high fives," explains Rep. Hobbins to News Center, "but there's more to it than just the idea of consuming a Guinness before nine o'clock in the morning. There's a lot more to the bill."
Hobbins added that while the proposed bill is drawing chuckles, it also has a serious side as bars and restaurants can stand to lose quite some money if not open that early on St. Patrick’s Day.
An editorial piece for the Journal Tribune in York County, Maine has said the time has come for all of the state’s “blue laws” to be abolished.
The editorial says that another politician, Rep. Paul Gilbert, has proposed doing away with blue laws altogether, which would in turn push back the time for liquor sales to 5 a.m. every day - meaning that Rep. Hobbins’ ‘Irish Bill’ wouldn’t need to go through to ensure an earlier serving time on St. Patrick’s Day.
Legislators in Maine who are backing the proposed bills are saying that the issue is a matter of fairness, and not one that is meant to encourage irresponsible drinking.
“He’s [Rep. Gilbert] putting it forth as a fairness issue for those who work third shift and may want to purchase alcohol after they get out of work,” says the editorial. “Associations representing the stores that sell liquor are behind the change, of course, as it opens up their window for doing business.”
The editorial in the Journal Tribune asserts that changing the time alcohol can be sold from won’t have an effect on what would already be mischievous behavior.
“Those who would overimbibe and be moved to commit crimes are generally drunk before midnight, or at least have all their liquor in hand, so it doesn’t seem that having a ban in place between midnight and 6AM helps to prevent crime.
“A free adult citizen should be able to legally purchase alcohol whenever they please, and we believe Rep. Gilbert’s bill is a good step in the direction of abolishing blue laws and adhering to our nation’s identity as a place where religious and personal freedom thrives.”