AUGUSTA — Bottoms up. 

The Maine House of Representatives on Thursday voted 83-62 along party lines in favor of a bill that would require bars and restaurants that advertise pints of beer to serve those pints in 16-ounce glasses.

The bill, LD 122, authored by state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, was approved unanimously by the state Senate on Wednesday but faced some stiff Republican opposition in the House, where conservative lawmakers said the measure created an unnecessary new regulation for business owners in Maine.

Patrick’s bill would allow Maine’s liquor inspectors to check the size of “pint” glasses at bars and restaurants as part of liquor license inspections.

The bill, according to Patrick, is necessary to protect consumers from being sold 14-ounce beers in so-called “cheater” pint glasses and to ensure a customer gets 16 ounces of beer when ordering a pint.

Republicans didn’t see a need for the legislation.

“We have federal laws and we have Maine state laws that address truth in advertising and this statute under Maine’s liquor laws would truly be redundant,” said state Rep. Jonathan Kinney, R-Limington.  

Kinney was among only two Republicans voting against the bill when it passed the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the state’s liquor laws.

On Thursday, Kinney’s Republican colleagues on the committee joined him in opposing the measure.

Democrats said the bill is aimed at protecting consumers and doing so in a way that does not involve a complex legal proceeding resulting from a truth-in-advertising complaint against a business.

“To be clear, this doesn’t make any requirements that a bar would have to buy certain glassware,” said state Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, House chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “It doesn’t say they would have to serve a pint. It simply says that if they advertise a pint, they have to serve a pint in a glass that can at least hold a pint.” 

Other Democrats said the bill was aimed at keeping people from getting ripped off at the tavern.

“At the end of the day, having been a bartender, as I was in college, all I could think of was the mark-up on beer and wine, which about 15 years ago was about 175 percent,” said state Rep. Kim Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth. “Today, it is likely to be 250 to 300 percent. So when you start adding a two-ounce difference between when a beer has been poured and what a pint should be, that does add up.”

But state Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, the House minority leader, said the bill could open the door for a whole host of other onerous regulations for restaurants and bars. 

“In weighing the balance of this bill, I have to look at this from the perspective of adding yet another regulation to our business sector,” Fredette said. “Where do we stop the regulations? Do we pass a bill next to say a 6-ounce steak — we are going to start measuring and regulating whether a 6-ounce steak is, in fact, a 6-ounce steak, or whether or not if you order an alcoholic beverage, there can only be so much ice in the alcoholic beverage and there can only be so much lime and so much orange? Where does it stop and where does it end?”

The bill will face additional votes in the Senate and House before going to Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s desk for his consideration. Lacking two-thirds majority support in the House, the bill would unlikely survive a LePage veto.

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