Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/21/1995 02:35 PM House ITT

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HITT - 02/21/95                                                               
 HB 180 - LIQUOR LICENSES FOR HOTELS/RESORTS                                 
 Number 030                                                                    
 was a direct result of Michael Tittle, owner of McClaren River                
 Lodge, and others being unable to obtain a liquor license within              
 the Mat-Su Borough as his lodge does not have at least 40 rooms.              
 This is a cooperative effort between remote lodge owners and the              
 Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to correct an inequity.                
 Under current law, some small lodges which happen to be located               
 in a remote corner of a large unified population area cannot get              
 a liquor license.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES explained that the law now reads if a person             
 wants to develop a small lodge or tourist facility in a remote or             
 inaccessible area of the Mat-Su or Kenai Borough, the lodge would             
 be required to have 40 rental rooms to obtain a full-service                  
 liquor license.  This requirement is excessive and unfair.                    
 Without a liquor license, a lodge has very little chance of                   
 success.  This is not a liquor issue; this is an effort to remove             
 a roadblock created by an inequity in our laws.                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted a letter from the ABC Board Director,              
 Patrick Sharrock (may be found in the House International Trade               
 and Tourism Committee Room, Capitol Building, Room 418, and after             
 adjournment of the second session of the 19th Alaska State                    
 Legislature, in the Legislative Reference Library).  She worked               
 with the ABC Board to draft this legislation and the ABC Board is             
 in support of it.  The ABC Board knew of this loophole, but there             
 wasn't anything the ABC Board could do about it.  The exact                   
 wording of this bill allows a liquor license to "a hotel, motel,              
 resort or similar business, that is inside a unified municipality             
 or organized borough, has at least ten rooms available to the                 
 public for rent, and from the nearest first or second-class city              
 or established village, cannot be reached by highway, or could be             
 reached by highway during no more than 10 of the 12 months in the             
 calendar year preceding the year in which the issuance or                     
 transfer is requested; in this paragraph, `highway' has the                   
 meaning given in AS 28.40.100."                                               
 Number 089                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked if she wanted to say on line 8,             
 page two "a hotel, motel, resort, or similar business `outside' a             
 unified municipality..."                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES responded that's the problem.  The existing              
 law says if you are within a municipality, that [status] dictates             
 how many rooms you have to have.  There's not a problem currently             
 with the people outside of an organized borough.  Had Tittle's                
 lodge been a mile further north, he would've been in the Denali               
 borough.  That borough's population is so low that he would have              
 been able to get a license.  The law is established by the                    
 population within the municipality.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER expressed concern for the effect on his                 
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES doubted that a small business in Anchorage               
 would meet the accessibility criteria that this bill covers.  She             
 reiterated the ABC Board's support.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN took exception to the sponsor's                 
 statement that lodges aren't likely to succeed without liquor                 
 licenses; that's not the case.  Secondly, he had a lodge within               
 his district that applied for a license.  The problem was that                
 the lodge was within a 20 minute-skiff ride from one of the                   
 villages.  The village didn't have a liquor license within it and             
 didn't want one that close.                                                   
 Number 147                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said that since those villages have                      
 populations of less than 1500, this bill doesn't change anything              
 for them.  She recognized that the villages, as part of the                   
 Kodiak borough, would be held to the minimum number of rooms for              
 Kodiak's population and then conceded that this bill may                      
 adversely affect his district.                                                
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said this bill lets anyone with 10 rooms             
 available to the public obtain a liquor license.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stressed that any issuance is an ABC Board               
 decision, it's not automatic.  In Tittle's case, the ABC Board                
 was willing to issue the license, but was unable to under the                 
 existing law.  Although someone might qualify, the ABC Board                  
 could still deny it.  She emphasized they're only reducing the                
 number of rooms that one has to provide to the traveling public.              
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON affirmed that the ABC Board makes               
 thoroughly-researched decisions and feels that this is a minor                
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER would like to hear from the ABC Board.  He              
 agrees that while normal licensing has to meet many stringent                 
 requirements, this particular license is a convenience license as             
 it is an exception to nine-tenths of those requirements.  Once                
 someone qualifies under this provision, i.e., the licensee is a               
 felon, he'll get the license.                                                 
 Number 215                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES felt there's not a case wherein a license                
 would be granted by the ABC Board over area residents'                        
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded that the way this is crafted, the             
 ABC Board doesn't have a choice.  In his experience, the board                
 would only be beholden to meeting the requirement of the statute.             
 If the statute requirements are met, that's it.  A hundred people             
 living in close proximity not liking it are not included for                  
 consideration by the ABC Board in this bill.                                  
 CHAIRMAN BEVERLY MASEK noted that this bill will encourage                    
 economic development of small businesses in rural areas and offer             
 incentives to tourists.  She referenced the letter from Pat                   
 Sharrock and the support of the ABC Board.  She asked                         
 Representative Porter what additional information he wanted from              
 the Board.                                                                    
 Number 269                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER wanted to know if this bill would provide               
 someone in Anchorage with the opportunity to get a liquor license             
 they otherwise would not be able to get.  He doesn't want to pass             
 a law that accommodates one person that has an adverse impact on              
 ten others.                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN concurred in wanting to clarify his                  
 concern with the ABC Board.                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT reflected that this is a fairly isolated             
 case.  He further stated that under AS 04.11.400(d) it says, "The             
 board `may' approve the issuance..."; it doesn't say shall.  If               
 those questions need to be answered by the ABC Board, they will               
 be resolved in Labor and Commerce.  They don't need to hold it up             
 in this special committee.                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA felt the committee should resolve               
 the questions before the ABC Board before passing it out of                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON suggested that since they are not                     
 comfortable with passing this out of committee, they should get               
 Mr. Sharrock on-line in the next meeting to settle these concerns             
 to enable moving this next week.                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT reiterated that this is a small issue.  If                
 this issue is in fact as serious as could be portrayed, then he               
 would not be willing to push it out of Labor and Commerce.                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES felt that if they passed this on to the next             
 committee with their concerns put forth, that would move it                   
 CHAIRMAN MASEK moved to adopt the zero fiscal note.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN moved that they forward this bill on to              
 Community and Regional Affairs with individual recommendations                
 and the zero fiscal note.                                                     
 Number 364                                                                    
 Hearing no objection, CHAIRMAN MASEK stated they will move this               
 bill out of committee to Community and Regional Affairs.                      

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