UPDATE: Resort-Only Liquor License Bill Passes Through Full Idaho Legislature

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UPDATE:  April 8, 2015

The Idaho Senate voted 18-16 April 8 to approve House Bill 318, a measure designed to create special liquor licenses for conference or event cities in Idaho resort communities. Lobbyists regularly pointed to Ketchum as the the first community which could benefit from the special law.

Voting against the bill, all Republicans, were Sens. Steve Bair, Cliff Bayer, Dean Cameron, Bart Davis, Lori Den Hartog, Lee Heider, Brent Hill, Dan Johnson, Abby Lee, Fred Martin, Dean Mortimer, Jim Rice, Jeff Siddoway, Steve Thayn, John Tippets and Steve Vick.

The bill now heads to Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter for his consideration.


ORIGINAL STORY: April 7, 2015 

With only a few days left for the 2015 session of the Idaho Legislature, the Senate State Affairs Committee met early Tuesday to consider some last-minute business.

After a previous effort to redistribute state liquor licenses to benefit Idaho resort communities stalled in early March, lobbyists returned to the Statehouse Tuesday to push House Bill 318, which would allow the creations of special liquor licenses for conference or event centers.

But Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bart Davis kept pushing back against the measure, saying "words matter," and was particularly concerned about formal definitions of what constitutes a "conference" or "event" instead of a convention.

"I can't support this motion because of the absence of defined terms," said Davis.

Rexburg Republican Sen. Brent Hill sided with Davis, saying, "Terms matter. We've passed statutes in the past where people have taken the intentions of that statute and taken those words to use them to go beyond what the intention of the legislature was. I'm going to be more careful in the future."

But the bill's sponsor, Fairfield Republican Rep. Steven Miller, promoted the measure by saying any special liquor license would be for in a resort city with a population of less than 10,000, and the facility must have at least 4,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as a commercial kitchen. Additionally, the license would be non-transferable.

Ketchum developer Chip Fisher is keeping his fingers crossed. He owns the Walnut Avenue Mall off of Sun Valley Road in Ketchum. He's hoping to turn the property into a conference and event center, but said a liquor license is imperative for its success.

Ultimately, Davis, Hill and Terreton Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway were the only members of the committee that approved the bill with a do-pass recommendation for the full Senate. The Idaho House has already given its approval to the measure.