It is reassuring to know the Maine Legislature can act swiftly in the face of an imminent crisis.
Like when we can't get a drink before 9 on St. Patrick's Day morning.
In order to preserve the "public peace, health and safety," Rep. Barry Hobbins would move happy hour back to 6 a.m. when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, as it does this year.
Without this bill, early morning chaos might break out all over Maine that day.
Republicans last week couldn't help but note that Hobbins' bill was moving more quickly through the Legislature than another alcohol-related bill proposed by Gov. Paul LePage.
That one is of considerably greater significance, since it would partially determine the use of hundreds of millions of dollars of liquor sale profits over the next decade.
With the state's monopoly liquor distribution contract expiring in 2014, LePage would obligate nearly $200 million toward paying off a $186 million debt to Maine's hospitals for past Medicaid services.
Republicans have complained that no hearings have been scheduled on LePage's bill, and last week we found out why: Democrats have a different plan in mind.
Senate Democratic Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, last week introduced a bill that would require a large upfront payment from a vendor, followed by a fixed annual payment and a percentage of the annual profits over the next 10 years.
This plan seems shaped by the current contract holder, Maine Beverage Co., which in 2004 talked the state into one of the most lopsided deals in business history.
Gerry Reid, Maine's director of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, says the state earned $8.6 million under the current plan in 2012 when it could have made $45.9 million.
Reid is an impressive fellow, with years of experience in the beverage industry, who has some aggressive ideas about how Maine can recapture millions of dollars worth of liquor revenue that is currently being lost to New Hampshire.
So, we think he is less likely to be bamboozled in granting the next contract.
A scary provision of Goodall's bill is that it would allow the state government to extend the contract with Maine Beverage if it runs out of time to analyze proposals.
Having a new liquor contract, a better contract, in place by 2014 is an absolute necessity.
We also agree with the governor that owing $186 million to our hospitals is an embarrassment we should no longer endure.
Paying our debt would allow the hospitals to collect nearly $300 million in matching payments from the federal government, which would be a boost to our hospitals and entire economy.
We are also worried that, under Goodall's bill, the liquor contract money would simply disappear into the state's general fund without ever paying off the hospital debt.
With their own idea now in the hopper, Democrats will likely move forward with hearings on both bills.
At this point, we believe the governor has the better idea.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.