ABC permit deferral bill to help bars sent to Gov. Roy Cooper

Sugar House bartender Shelby Minnix creates a Lavender Lemonade cocktail in a to-go bottle, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Detroit. At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are temporarily allowing cocktails to-go during the pandemic, up from around three before the coronavirus struck. Dave Kwiatkowski, who owns the Sugar House was able to reopen July 10 for carryout service. Kwiatkowski normally employs a staff of 16, but for now, it's just him at the door and a bartender making drinks. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

RALEIGH — A bill designed to bring relief in the form of ABC permit and fee deferrals to bars kept closed by Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders headed to the governor’s desk last week.

On Feb. 17, House Bill 4 passed unanimously through both chambers, the house voted 118-0 and senate 47-0 and was sent to Cooper on the same day.

The bill, if signed, will retroactively extend deferral of ABC permit fees for bars and clubs kept closed under Section 8 of Cooper’s executive order 141 until 90 days after all executive orders limiting the operation of those establishments either expire or the orders are rescinded. A Senate committee substitute amended some of the phrasing in the 3rd edition prior to passage.

Primary sponsors of the bill are Reps. Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson), James Boles (R-Moore), John Bell (R-Wayne), and freshman Representative Erin Paré (R-Wake).

“These are family businesses hurting in North Carolina, who need help now and should not be required to pay fees to a state government that is strictly limiting their ability to generate revenue and operate as planned,” Moffitt said in a statement.

The governor has ten days to sign or veto a bill or else it becomes law without his signature.

A second bill, House Bill 73, would require the ABC Commission to “renew or register without payment” certain ABC permits until April 30, 2022. Permits included are various on-premises permits for malt beverage, unfortified wine, fortified wine, mixed beverages, and culinary permits. Also included are mixed beverages catering permits, guest room cabinet permits, wine and spiritous liquor tasting permits, wine shop permits, malt beverage tasting permits, antique spirituous liquor permits, and common area entertainment permits.

Bars and clubs are the only industries that have been kept closed by the governor since the pandemic began last March. At least two lawsuits have been filed over those orders, including a suit filed by owners of Club 519 in Greenville and one filed by the N.C. Bar Owners Association.

About A.P. Dillon 1134 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_