Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boise bar owners question Otter attorney

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 4:44 PM

About 20 Boise bar owners gathered at City Hall this afternoon to pepper Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's attorney with questions about proposed changes to the state's liquor quota system.

If you read Scott Weaver's story this morning on liquor license holder concerns with the changes you might think they peppered attorney David Hensley with buck shot. Now, we left the meeting early, but the tone of the first hour was remarkably civil.

Bar owners seemed to accept that the state was not going to pony up millions of dollars to buy out their licenses. Instead they wanted to know why they couldn't get larger discounts from the state-owned liquor dispensary, get rid of the Alcoholic Beverage Control arm of the State Police and why Otter's plan seems to favor new business (implied: chain restaurants under the ruse of economic development) over established local businesses.

Hensley, and Bardenay owner Kevin Settles, a key member of Otter's liquor committee, made the case that bar owners may as well get on board if they want to retain any value in their licenses.

Settles has been on two legislative committees and two governor's committees over the course of nearly a decade, attempting to retire the state role in issuing and controling liquor licenses.

"The governor has made this a priority," Settles said. "He doesn't believe in the quota system."

Hensley outlined the benefits to current bar owners contained in the 54-page bill he delivered to the legislative bill drafters today.

Anyone that holds a liquor license on the day the bill becomes law gets some benefit:
  • The state licenses are transferable anywhere in the state
  • a 10 percent discount on liquor purchases (they get 5 percent now)
  • less involvement with ABC in procuring and renewing licenses
  • less draconian fines on server violations, to accompany a new server training regimen
  • lower license renewal fees that the new class of municipal liquor license holders
  • more onus on underage drinkers and better definitions for serving drunk people


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