Law

'A Good Story Always Beats the Facts' When Maine Lawmakers Craft Legislation

They're only politicians. Thinking hurts.

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AUGUSTA, Maine — If you want to drink a pint of Guinness before 9 a.m. on a Sunday when it's St. Patrick's Day in Maine you can now, thanks largely to a good story.

One tavern owner — a longtime Republican — suggested the idea to Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, last winter, and just in the nick o' time a bill extending drinking hours to the wee hour of 6 a.m. when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday was signed into law by Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

The measure ended up benefiting bars all around Maine, but the change was suggested mainly to preserve a long-standing tradition at a single pub in Saco, Hobbins said while promoting the bill.

The law change was just one in a host of bills — some passed into law, some not — offered up in 2013 that were based largely on a story or two or even a tall tale told to a lawmaker.

"A good story always beats the facts," said George Smith, a Maine outdoors writer and former longtime executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine. "You try to have some factual basis, but a good story is a lot better than somebody droning through a long list of complex facts, (and soon) the legislators are all heading down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee."