Wednesday, the Legislature's committee on Legal and Veteran's Affairs will take up a bill to clarify how to measure 100 miles in Maine.
We hope the committee will use its common sense and support LD 677.
This bill seeks to measure the distances between competing casinos in Maine using the "most commonly used road miles" standard that prevails throughout Maine law.
That's the language used to set distances between off-track-betting facilities, it's also the language used to set the distance between OTBs and real race tracks, and even the language used in establishing the distance a liquor store must be from a church or a school.
Most Mainers know that the old saying "you can't get there from here" really means there are a lot of twists and turns as our roadways meander between points A and B.
We all certainly wish we could travel with the efficiency and speed of a LifeFlight helicopter, going directly from point to point, but we can't. Instead, we must get in our vehicles and drive.
The bill hopes to head off a drawn-out legal battle over where a casino, approved by voters last fall, can be located in Oxford County.
Opponents of measuring road miles also happen to be supporters of other casino proposals, including one in Biddeford.
Ironically, these opponents have set this issue aside in the legislation they are asking voters to approve for them. These measures would strike the distance requirement completely.
Yet, they are insisting on a mileage standard for the Oxford casino in a transparent attempt to derail a competing project.
According to Google maps, Biddeford is about 146 highway miles from Bangor, while Lewiston is 107. As the crow flies, if it flies in a straight line, Lewiston is about 86 miles from Bangor and Biddeford is 125 miles.
By line-of-bearing or air miles, the Oxford casino, which would be operated by Black Bear Entertainment, is a bit over 95 miles from Hollywood Slots. On the road it's more than 125 miles.
Would the lobbyists working for the Biddeford casino project in the Legislature always calculate the miles they travel for work the same way — by direct line-of-bearing measurement — versus actual miles traveled?
We also would suggest that if the committee rejects LD 677, that all future mileage reimbursements for lawmakers be measured the same way.
That wouldn't be fair or make much sense.
That's why applying an unusual air-mile standard to the Oxford casino is also unfair and should be dismissed.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.