Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday signed a bill that will make it easier for local businesses to conduct community fundraisers, according to the House Democratic Office.

Rep. Lori Fowle, D-Vassalboro, sponsored L.D. 1799 after the Red Barn restaurant in Augusta got in trouble with the state for not complying with the Charitable Solicitations Act.

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 new law 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.

“We are now saying with a loud voice that Maine welcomes local employers making a positive difference in the communities they serve,” she said in a statement released Thursday.

The new law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns. Statutory adjournment is Wednesday, although the final day of work can vary from year to year.

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