A bill inspired by an Augusta restaurant earned final Senate approval Wednesday and has been sent to Gov. Paul LePage for consideration.

Rep. Lori Fowle, D-Vassalboro, sponsored a bill to modify the state’s Charitable Solicitations Act after the Red Barn got into trouble with the state Office of the Attorney General for its fundraising activities. The restaurant on the city’s east side got a letter from the state in November telling it to stop holding fundraisers because it was not licensed by the state’s Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

The restaurant had hosted more than 100 benefits over the past few years and raised more than $635,000 for various local charities.

The bill, as approved by the House and Senate, requires entities to be a charitable organization and be collecting donations to trigger the need to comply with state regulations. Under current law, either being a charitable organization or collecting donations requires dealing with the state. Fowle said she wanted to make it easier for small businesses to help out in their communities.

“Maine’s small businesses should be allowed to raise money for a good cause without having to fear they have done something wrong,” she said in a statement from the House Democratic Office.

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