State officials are relieved that the issue is resolved.

AUGUSTA (AP) – The Department of Public Safety on Thursday reversed course a day after seeking the attorney general’s opinion and said sales of liquor on Sunday is lawful in all of agency and state-owned liquor stores.

The reversal came a day after the Department of Public Safety mailed letters explaining that there is no record of 132 communities authorizing Sunday sales after voters statewide repealed Maine’s “Blue Laws” in the ’70s.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara said a 1991 amendment to the law authorizing Sunday sales had created ambiguity.

“We acted with the best information that we had and now that we are possession of a legal opinion, we wanted to make sure the word got out as soon as possible,” Cantara said an hour after receiving an opinion from the attorney general. The apparent glitch came to the attention of liquor enforcement officials when the latest round of licenses were being issued following the closing of most state liquor stores earlier this year.

Staff in the division of liquor enforcement came across information suggesting that towns needed to vote on whether to allow Sunday sales and that alcohol was being sold without that authorization.

The information arose late last week and came to the fore on Monday as the department tried to decide what to do.

When the new policy became public, license holders, municipal officials and the former director of the state’s newly defunct Bureau of Liquor Enforcement began questioning the state’s interpretation. On Wednesday, the agency asked the attorney general’s office for an interpretation.

“I am glad that we were able to get a definite legal answer on this in relative short time,” Cantara said.

Cantara said the department felt there was no need initially to consult the attorney general’s office.

“Their reasoning based on the information available was sound and the product of years of experience in this law,” he said.

The department acted quickly, Cantara said, because “we felt duty bound to share the information with the license holders.”

In the future, Cantara said his the Public Safety Department may propose legislation to clear up ambiguities.

The state’s policy would not have affected beer and wine sales, which still would have been allowed on Sunday. Communities would have had to have votes before liquor could be sold, however.


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