Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17
04/13/2005 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 213-ALCOHOL SERVER EDUCATION CHAIR ANDERSON announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 213, "An Act relating to alcohol server education." 4:05:17 PM REPRESENTATIVE JAY RAMRAS, Alaska State Legislative, sponsor of HB 213, began by highlighting that as a restaurant owner he has accumulated years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He said that this bill covers the techniques in alcohol management (TAM) course, which provides extraordinarily useful information for servers, bartenders, security, and doormen. However, under the current law individuals have to renew their TAM card by retaking the entire four-hour exam every three years. The aforementioned is time ill spent for professional servers who have been in the industry for years. Therefore, the legislation would provide that those who have already taken the four-hour course would merely have to take the written test demonstrating an understanding of the course subject. The aforementioned is an excellent funding mechanism for Cabaret Hotel Restaurant & Retailer's Association (CHARR) and other advocacy groups in the industry, since there is a fee charged for the course. The fees for the course aren't addressed in this legislation. He stated that he is only trying to be mindful of professionals in the food service industry and suggest that after being in the industry for three years, they should be allowed to demonstrate their competency with the laws and regulations concerning alcohol rather than requiring another full course and exam. 4:07:18 PM CHAIR ANDERSON asked how much it would cost to renew the certification. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS answered that an applicant would have to go through the same facility and the same testing and certification program. He reiterated that this legislation would not make any changes to the fees, but would allow restaurant workers to arrive in the last half hour of the four- hour exam to take the qualifying test to obtain recertification. The examination is really not the hard part. He related his own experience with the course, and characterized the challenging part as sitting through the course itself. Representative Ramras stated that the TAM course is extraordinarily useful and makes servers more knowledgeable about the law concerning alcohol, which makes the dispensing of alcohol safer. 4:09:43 PM CHAIR ANDERSON surmised then that this legislation would allow a worker in the food and beverage industry to skip the four-hour course and simply take the test. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said that this correct, clarifying that it would be optional whether or not the individual would sit for the four-hour course. These workers, numbering in the thousands across the state, oftentimes surrender work shifts to take the four-hour course for which the establishment does not pay. The proposal embodied in HB 213 would save time while the individual would still have to demonstrate competency of the course material. 4:11:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if this legislation was supported by CHARR. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS recalled that CHARR indicated its support for HB 213 when the organization was present earlier. In further response to Representative Kott, Representative Ramras said he was not a TAM instructor, but he has sat through the course. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX related her understanding that the purpose of retaking the test is merely the receipt of the fee, and therefore she questioned why these workers can't just pay the fee and forgo the test. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS disagreed with Representative LeDoux, and stressed that there is value in requiring that those who have taken the exam remain familiar with the rules that govern serving alcohol. Therefore, he opined that it's appropriate for the state to enforce a renewal of the TAM card and certification. However, if one can demonstrate competency of the information, then there is no need to sit for the entire course. Representative Ramras characterized the exam as easy, with a low failure rate. The exam, he explained, is designed to get the industry workers to sit through the three hours of course instruction. Therefore, passage of the exam fulfills the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's requirement. 4:13:52 PM REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked if it's the sponsor's intent for the fee to be the same for taking the three-hour course and exam, and the exam alone. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS clarified that his intent is not to interfere with private enterprise, and therefore it's up to the entities that offer the TAM course to set the fee. This bill provides the worker with the ability to forgo the three hours of instruction when seeking recertification. 4:15:55 PM REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG announced that he didn't see a statement from the ABC Board, and was wondering if it had offered any comment on this. 4:16:11 PM REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS informed the committee that when the ABC Board performs a compliance test, it reviews whether every single employee [in an establishment serving alcohol] has to produce a current TAM card. An employee has 30 days upon being hired or expiration of a TAM card to take the course. 4:17:28 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if Representative Ramras had retaken the refresher course. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS pointed out that he was not a server and that he did not have to take the class, although most working owners are required to have a TAM card. He said that at his restaurant he is allowed to greet, but not seat guests. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT pointed out that Section 1 refers to a TAM card being shown as proof to the ABC board, and asked if the issuance of such a card is something new or is this section merely making the use of the card clear to everyone. REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS clarified that the TAM card has always been an acceptable way to prove one's course completion to the ABC Board. This legislation simply says that when an individual demonstrates the competency, he or she will be issued a new card with a new expiration date. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated that one of his staff, Mike O'Hare, had been certified and could offer his view of the TAM course. 4:20:33 PM MIKE O'HARE, Staff to Representative Kott, Alaska State Legislature, stated that currently, there is a renewal test that requires one to sit through the entire TAM course every three years. It is not a difficult test after sitting through the four-hour course, he opined. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT moved to report HB 213 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered.