Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/09/1996 10:03 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 372 - RESTAURANT LIQUOR LICENSES                                         
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HB 372.                                                         
 CHAIR JAMES called on the sponsor, Representative Norman Rokeberg.            
 Number 0350                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG thanked the Chair for hearing the              
 bill today.  He said it was a simple bill because it repealed a               
 current law.  He stated, for the record, he did not have a vested             
 interest in the bill.  He said he had a personal friend that was              
 interested in the bill, Michael Gordon, owner of Chilkoot Charlie's           
 in Anchorage.  He reiterated he did not have an economic interest             
 in the beverage industry right now, only friendships.  He did have            
 experience, however, in the industry.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained the Spenard Community Council               
 brought this issue to his attention.  The Council passed a                    
 resolution asking that taverns be repealed.  He cited the reasons             
 were due to a disproportionate large number of drinking                       
 establishments in the Anchorage Spenard area, and to the impact of            
 alcohol on society.  He further said he wanted the opportunity to             
 right a wrong.  Senate Bill 87, passed last year, established                 
 taverns.  He explained the bill was sold to the members of the                
 House of Representatives under the "Cyrano's" law.  Cyrano's                  
 Bookstore Cafe and Office Center was allowed under exception to               
 sell liquor.  The statute allowed for 10 percent of restaurant or             
 eating places to apply for an exemption from the 50 percent food              
 provision to create a tavern. The current statute also did not                
 allow for entertainment after 9:00 p.m.  He said HB 372 had an                
 economic impact as well.  The beverage dispensing license was                 
 valued and purchased on the secondary market for up to $450,000 in            
 the Anchorage area in the peak of the 1980's.  Now, there was no              
 value in a restaurant license because of the decline in the                   
 economy.  House Bill 372, therefore, allowed for competition that             
 was not there before creating an economic impact.  He further said            
 the sobriety movement in the state was another reason to repeal the           
 current statute.  Moreover, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly                  
 originally supported HB 372 until a member asked for a voter                  
 reconsideration upon which it failed.  The member who asked for a             
 voter reconsideration had failed to disclose to the Anchorage                 
 Municipal Assembly he had applied for a restaurant license and                
 failed to disclose his 2.5 percentage ownership in a restaurant.              
 He suggested it needed to be further reviewed.  He asked the                  
 committee members to take a favorable look at the bill.  The next             
 committee of referral was the House Labor and Commerce Committee.             
 He said it was a good bill and he asked again for the support of              
 the committee members.                                                        
 Number 0826                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered if Cyrano's could continue to                
 operate under HB 372.                                                         
 Number 0839                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG replied it would not be able to sell beer             
 or wine without meeting the restaurant 50 percent requirement.  He            
 said the bill would not close the establishment, however.                     
 Number 0859                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied it could sell more sandwiches, for               
 example, to meet the 50 percent requirement.                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON replied that was a good point.                        
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG wondered if Cyrano's had even applied for             
 an exemption.  He reiterated the bill would not put anybody out of            
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered if the exempted establishments               
 would be able to continue to operate until they were shut down.               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG replied Cyrano's had applied, but had not             
 received it yet.                                                              
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in                 
 Anchorage, Tom McGrath.                                                       
 Number 0911                                                                   
 TOM MCGRATH said he supported HB 372.  He explained Cyrano's was              
 not exempt under the law now.  The menu had been expanded to cover            
 the 50 percent requirement.  He said many of the Senators and                 
 Representatives did not know about the exemption provision in SB              
 87.  The exemption created the possibility of 15 taverns in                   
 Anchorage.  He cited there were 117 liquor licenses in Anchorage,             
 while the state law only allowed 77.  This was due to a grandfather           
 provision.  House Bill 372, therefore, would correct a wrong and              
 improve the quality of life in Alaska.                                        
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Pat Fullerton.                                                     
 Number 1073                                                                   
 PAT FULLERTON, Chairman, Spenard Community Council, said the abuse            
 of alcohol had been a problem in the Spenard area for many years.             
 He said he was a recovering alcoholic and was about to celebrate              
 his 7th year of sobriety.  Moreover, the current law allowed the              
 establishment of what he called a "cheap" bar.  He wanted to see it           
 repealed so that it did not add further to the proliferation of the           
 liquor license.                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Doug Griffin.                                                      
 Number 1201                                                                   
 DOUG GRIFFIN, Director, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said the            
 previous testimony was an accurate description of what the current            
 bill allowed by Representative Rokeberg and the Spenard Community             
 Council.  He did not support HB 372, however.  He assumed the                 
 legislature knew what it was doing when passing the original bill             
 by including the exemption provision.  Moreover, he reminded the              
 committee members, the local governing bodies would have to approve           
 these licenses so safeguards did exist.  The original bill did not            
 create a separate type of license due to over licensing based on              
 population quotas, for example.                                               
 Number 1357                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES asked Mr. Griffin if there had been any exempt licenses           
 Number 1370                                                                   
 MR. GRIFFIN replied, "yes."  He cited Legal Pizza and Railway                 
 Brewing Company in Anchorage, and the Chandalar Inn in the                    
 Matanuska-Susitna Borough.  There were several in the process as              
 Number 1485                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES thanked Mr. Griffin for his testimony.  She was                   
 concerned about the establishments caught between the two laws.               
 She was concerned about the economic impact as a result of the                
 establishments changing their business.  She suggested a                      
 grandfather provision.                                                        
 Number 1569                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she was also concerned about the                 
 establishments caught between the two bills and supported a                   
 grandfather provision.  She was not opposed to moving the bill                
 forward, however.                                                             
 Number 1620                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained many establishments tried to                  
 circumvent the intent of the law allowing beer and wine with dinner           
 by offering potato chips as food, for example.  He said he was not            
 aware of the exception provision last year when he voted in favor             
 of the legislation.                                                           
 Number 1696                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES commented she had fond memories of taverns in                     
 Washington and Oregon where she grew up.  She was not negative                
 towards taverns.                                                              
 Number 1760                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said the state of Washington distinguished              
 between taverns and cocktail lounges.  The cocktail lounges fell              
 under the restaurant requirements similar to Alaska's.                        
 CHAIR JAMES announced to Frank Smith in Barrow that HB 348 had                
 already been moved from the House State Affairs Committee.  She               
 asked for his testimony in writing for the record.                            
 Number 1885                                                                   
 FRANK SMITH thanked the Chair.  He said he would submit his                   
 testimony in writing for the record.                                          
 Number 1910                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN commented he did not have fond memories of               
 taverns because they attracted individuals that liked to drink too            
 much where he grew up in Wisconsin.  He would support anything to             
 reduce that.                                                                  
 Number 1979                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated her biggest concern were for the                       
 establishments that might fall through the cracks.                            
 Number 2059                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained he was working on a potential               
 amendment to address her concern.  He did not want to disrupt the             
 commerce of the state.  He pledged the issue would be reviewed in             
 the next committee of referral - the House Labor and Commerce                 
 Number 2109                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN stated he was also concerned about the                    
 establishments that would be affected by this bill.                           
 Number 2137                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained he was a good friend of the                 
 father of Richard Sassary, who wrote a letter against HB 372.                 
 CHAIR JAMES wondered if friendship was taking Representative                  
 Rokeberg a long way with this issue.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG replied, "no."  He just knew a lot of                 
 people in Anchorage.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated, for the record, she grew up in                
 Number 2198                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HB 372 move from the committee               
 with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.  Hearing           
 no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs                    

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