AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – The Piscataquis County town of Atkinson moved a step closer Monday to putting itself out of business following a vote in the House.

Representatives voted in favor of a bill to allow the town of about 330 people to deorganize, with a couple of provisions.

Deorganization would have to be approved by local voters in November, and the town would continue to be liable for its share any debts incurred by the local hospital district.

The bill was sent to the Senate and awaits further votes in both chambers.

Atkinson residents who are pushing for the legislation say they’re overwhelmed by local taxes, and want to join Maine’s unorganized territory to get relief.

But some state officials say Atkinson’s request could throw the door open for other heavily taxed towns to deorganize.

Senate votes for golf course beer

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – A bill to allow beer sales from mobile carts on Maine’s golf courses was on its way to Gov. John Baldacci for his signature after winning a final legislative enactment vote.

The heavily debated measure, which won final Senate approval by a 19-14 roll call vote, includes safeguards, such as requiring sellers to be specially trained and be at least 21 years old. A golfer who operates a cart could not transport an open container of beer across a public road.

To ease the bill’s passage, lawmakers removed an amendment that would have required golf courses allowing mobile beer sales to have portable restrooms on the links.

House OKs statewide code

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Following the lead of the Senate, Maine’s House on Monday voted to adopt a statewide building code for homes.

The bill passed by a lopsided 113-24 vote after representatives debated and defeated an amendment to the measure. The bill still faces further House and Senate votes.

It would establish a residential building code that towns could adopt voluntarily. Supporters say about 80 Maine towns and cities already have codes.

Rep. Scott Cowger, D-Hallowell, said Maine lags behind most states in adopting residential construction codes. He said most other states have mandatory codes.

The bill conforms to international standards and is supported by contractors, architects and others in the industry.

The legislation was prompted by complaints about some contractors who have done shoddy work on residential structures, leading to expensive repairs.

AP-ES-03-22-04 1820EST

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