Gov. Paul LePage says he’ll ban 50-milliliter liquor bottles if the Legislature passes a law to place a 15-cent deposit on them. In initial votes last week, the Maine House and Senate voted 111 to 34 and 32 to 3 to require retailers to collect deposits on the little bottles known as “nips.” Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Wilton), who chairs the committee that endorsed the bill, says it will help stop the proliferation of empty nip containers littering the side of the road.

But on Tuesday night, the governor fired off a press release blasting Saviello for increasing costs on the state and businesses.  

“Senator Saviello said he would call my bluff that I would delist 50-milliliter ‘nip’ bottles if this bill passes. A Maine legislator should know better than that,” wrote LePage. “If this bill is passed, I will veto the bill, and I will instruct the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations to begin working immediately with the Liquor and Lottery Commission to delist all nips from sale in Maine. I do so with regret, but the severe impact of this bill leaves me no choice.”

Rep. Stanley Paige Zeigler (D-Montville), who sits on the committee that passed the bill, said that the measure only raises the price of a nip by a few cents. “I have no idea why the governor is threatening to delist except that it appears to be a personal clash with Senator Saviello,” he wrote in an email. “This bill does nothing to restrict business in our state but helps keep our roads clean. If you want me to try to explain or understand the governor’s actions, I am unable.”

The governor added that “delisting nips will ensure that they are not sold in Maine, and fewer of them end up as litter.” Not to mention a potential reduction in the number of people drinking and driving, which appears to be lost in the whole debate.