ABC Reform Group Update

The ABC License Reform Work Group held its third meeting to review progress to date, update the timeline for the draft report and ask the work group to comment on several new ideas staff raised as possible categories to consider.  The power point from the meeting can be accessed at the below link.

Timeline – staff will complete a conceptual report (a.k.a. draft) to send to the Senate Rehabilitation committee as required by the letter from Chairman Reeves.  The next step will be for ABC to publicize this with the study participants so we are able to socialize this with our membership for comment.  The final report is due in November. I expect ABC will give us a cut-off date for our responses sometime this summer.

ABC covered several items I want to bring to your attention.  The first is volume tiers.  ABC is struggling with a fair and equitable method to homogenize the volume of alcohol served or sold in retail establishments for the purposes of tiers for licenses.  ABC threw out the idea of “proof gallons”.  Marybeth spoke up to oppose this way of tracking as unworkable for our industry. ABC did mention they are looking at alternatives internally but have heard challenges from licensees on all the different measures, capacity, square footage, number of seats, etc.

The slide dec from ABC (#9) outlines their concept of “Marketplace Licenses”. There is a definition for marketplace that places training requirements on staff and sets a time duration – think a license at a cigar store, jewelry store or high-end men’s clothing store. Study participants suggested the time limits would be unenforceable and should be more thought out. There was also push back on the requirement the licensee be in business for 2 years or “patently qualified” which is undefined.

ABC introduced a proposed “Patron Provided” license – where patrons can bring previously purchased alcohol (wine, beer or spirits) onto the property of the licensee.  ABC used the examples of an equine venue, banquet facilities for fire and rescue, commercial lifestyle venues or a museum.  This category was not received with enthusiasm. Members questioned including spirits; how this would work if some venue allowed and others did not – the confusion for patrons. ABC will have internal discussions.  The purpose here was to find these “odd” licenses that do not fit in to marketplace and consolidate a few similar ones.

The final substantive slide (#13) shows a table that lists license types and the actual cost to ABC for each license – the table shows the ABC charge for each license and the percentage of the cost recovered.  See below for our numbers.  We will need to pay close attention to this. 

Manufacturer Farm Winery $2,394   $308   13% recovered

Manufacturer Winery $2,125   $787    37% recovered

The final note from the meeting was information learned after the meeting concluded when the participants were able to chat informally. Here I learned a local attorney/lobbyist Tom Lisk (who represents retailers, etc) represents the property seeking the “Agritourism Resort” mixed beverage license.  The general consensus of the work group members was to take a pass on this in the open parts of the last meeting.  After this April meeting, Mr. Lisk ask for the license to be reviewed by staff – outside of the ability for the group and those opposed to comment.  I noted for Mr. Lisk and ABC staff that we had concerns and would like to discuss before ABC took action.

Anne Leigh Kerr

 President, Kerr Government Strategies

VWA Lobbyist