AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives narrowly endorsed a bill on Tuesday that would roll back state “blue laws” to allow small grocery stores to open on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

The chamber passed the bill after a 79-66 vote in which 64 Republicans joined 11 Democrats to vote against a call to kill the bill, which would let cities and towns to pass ordinances allowing grocery stores between 5,000 and 10,000 feet to open on those holidays.

It was sponsored by Rep. James Gillway, R-Searsport, who proposed it on behalf of the owner of Tozier’s Family Market in his town, telling a legislative committee earlier this year that Searsport people “love our local grocery store and want it open.”

The bill drew opposition from most Democrats and Rep. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn, who argued that the bill would deprive workers of days off and that bigger stores would use it to justify future efforts to open on holidays. It faces further action in the Republican-led Senate.

Maine’s current ban on certain businesses opening on Sundays and holidays is part of the state’s web of “blue laws” — holdovers from the state’s Puritan history. They’re often targeted in the Legislature and there are many exemptions, including for convenience stores.

More political coverage….

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: