Local liquor license legislation has legs


Nampa Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie introduced a bill this morning that would eliminate the state liquor quota system and replace it with a licensing scheme that allows cities and counties more leeway.

It doesn't have a number and we can't link to it yet, but we've been writing about it for weeks over here.

In other news, on Wednesday, BW released Bar, Bar -- a hot off the presses guide to drinking in the Boise Valley. You can read it below in this cool gidget, but grab a copy on the street too; it fits in thee pocket.

But back at the Annex, McKenzie presented the bill, which was drafted by a hard, uh, working taskforce and approved by the Guv. McKenzie presented it, we might add, to the committee which he himself chairs, handing the gavel to Monty Pearce of New Plymouth.

McKenzie said the bill removes the state from issuing new liquor licenses, handing that power down to municipalities, grandfathers in existing licensees, separates the issuance of licenses from enforcement, and mandates barkeep and server training.

Sen. Bart Davis, an Idaho Falls Repuiblican, questioned the grandfathering in. (Davis later told citydesk, disguised as Nathaniel Hoffman that he had just gotten his hands on the bill and still had to read it.)

"Are we expanding what might be perceived as a property right?" Davis asked, by allowing current license holders to transfer their bar anywhere in the state and giving them a fat discount at the state liquor shop.

Many license holders are more concerned about the contraction of the value of their license rather than the expansion of their rights. But the property right question will also draw much scrutiny at the pending hearing on the bill. Some license holders have already threatened to sue over the quota elimination scheme, arguing that the government is taking away their property right by devaluing the paper. Others argue and at least one court has held that the license is a privilege, like a driving license and can be stripped at any time.

So drink up... we'll let you know when the Senate State Affairs Committee takes this up again...