RALEIGH — A bill filed in the North Carolina House seeks to help bars and clubs kept closed by Gov. Roy Cooper’s pandemic executive orders by extending permit deferrals.
House Bill 4, titled Extend ABC Permit Renewal Fee Deferral, was filed on Jan. 27.
The bill, if passed and signed by the governor, will amend Session Law 2020-94 to defer any ABC permit and registration fees until 90 days after the date all executive orders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and limiting the full operation of the permittees are rescinded or expire.
Included in the bill is the directive to the ABC Commission to “reinstate or reactivate any ABC permits it cancelled or moved to inactive status as a result of its interpretation of Section 1 of S.L. 2020-94 as it existed prior to being amended by Section 1 of this act.”
The permittees will not have to submit an application or pay any fees related to reinstatement or reactivation. The bill also requires written notice to the ABC of a permittee’s intent to delay payment and, if passed, would be retroactive to June 30, 2020.
One of the primary sponsors of the bill is freshman Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) who defeated first-term Democrat Sydney Batch in the November election.
“I think this bill provides the needed flexibility bar and clubs owners are looking for,” said Paré. “It has what they need to survive in a COVID world where they’ve been shut down and restricted from operating.”
The bill comes after bars and clubs across the state discovered their permits had been canceled and fees had been reinstated without notice despite the establishments being closed for operation. The NC Bar Owners Association believed that executive order 169, which expired on Oct. 23, was what the ABC had used to end the deferment on renewing permits and paying fees.
Paré said helping businesses survive the pandemic and the closures was one of her priorities as a candidate and continues to be a top priority since taking office.
“I know this bill will help a lot of bar owners and I am proud to be a sponsor of it,” said Paré.