Cooper signs ABC bill into law

FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2020, file photo, patrons enjoy food and drink at The Brass Rail in Hoboken, N.J. School systems in several states are giving up on in-person classes, and some governors are reimposing restrictions on bars and restaurants or getting more serious about masks, as the coast-to-coast resurgence of the coronavirus sends deaths, hospitalizations and new infections soaring. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday, Nov. 12, he will sign an executive order to give towns and cities the option to limit hours at non-essential businesses after 8 p.m. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday signed HB 4 into law, giving a reprieve to establishments for alcohol permit renewal fees.

The legislation, one of several bills aimed at aiding small business in the current year, was approved unanimously in both the N.C. House and Senate.


In a statement, Gov. Cooper said, “The pandemic has hit bar owners hard, and this bill offers needed relief from the burden of fees as they work to keep their businesses afloat and create more jobs.”

The legislation will retroactively extend deferral of ABC permit fees for bars and clubs kept closed under Section 8 of 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until 90 days after all executive orders limiting the operation of those establishments either expire or the orders are rescinded.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.

“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,” Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson) said in a statement following the House approval of the measure.

A second bill in the legislature, 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 will be allowed to open at limited capcity on Friday, Feb. 26. 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.