Under the Dome

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Franco-American Day

Lawmakers will celebrate Franco-American day on Wednesday, March 17, in an all-day event featuring a special menu in the cafeteria, musical presentations and a press conference announcing nominees to the Franco-American Hall of Fame.

It’s unclear how the Irish-Americans feel about the date selection, but state Sen. Lisa Marrache, D-Waterville, said it’s important to recognize Maine’s French heritage.

“Our French heritage is very important in Maine, and it has played a critical role in making our state what it is today,” she said in a release.

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Liquor tastings 2.0

State Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, said he’s happy that the Maine House voted to approve a measure that would fix mistakes in a law passed last year allowing in-store beer and liquor tastings.

Wine tastings had previously been allowed under state law. But A floor amendment added to last year’s law required shops ensure children could not watch the tastings, something that proved problematic.

“Most stores that did not have a problem conducting wine tastings before last year’s law went into effect are now being hurt by this burdensome requirement,” Fitts said in a release. “The law passed during last year’s session has essentially shut down taste-testings that specialty wine and liquor retailers depend on to increase their business.”

This year’s bill allows for invitation-only taste-testing events in place of or concurrent with events open to the public, among other tweaks, according to the release.

The Maine Senate will schedule a vote on the proposal in the coming weeks.

Fireside Chat

State Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn, will be at the Fireside Inn in Auburn from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, March 13, and encourages constituents to stop by and chat.

“The most important job I believe I have as a legislator is listening to the people of my district, so I can truly represent their interests in Augusta,” Bickford said in a release. “I really encourage all the residents of District 70 to come and share with me what is on their minds.”

Coffee and light refreshments will be served, according to the release.

The people’s bills

Public hearings have been scheduled on a pair of citizen’s initiatives as the Maine Legislature heads into the final weeks of its session.

The proposal to allow a casino in Oxford County is scheduled for a public hearing before the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday at 1 p.m. If lawmakers reject the measure, it would be scheduled for a statewide vote, likely in November.

Another citizen’s initiative proposal, which allows for medical marijuana dispensaries, was approved by voters last fall. A stakeholder group worked to provide logistical fixes to the legislation and that new draft is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. as well, before the Health and Human Services Committee.

— Rebekah Metzler

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