LD 2120 – LD 2120 – An Act Regarding Sales of Alcohol in Municipalities and Unincorporated Places

Summary: Current law requires a municipality through a local option election to affirmatively authorize the licensing of businesses to sell liquor in that municipality. In an unincorporated place, the county commissioners must decide whether to authorize or not authorize the licensing of businesses to sell liquor in that unincorporated place. Based on the type of sales authorized in that municipality or unincorporated place, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations issues licenses to the establishments or agency liquor stores in that municipality or unincorporated place.

Since a municipality or unincorporated place may not be able to provide proof that the sale of liquor was authorized in that municipality or unincorporated place, despite the presence in that municipality or unincorporated place of establishments licensed by the bureau, the continuation of licensing by the bureau is in jeopardy. In order to prevent the loss of licensing, this bill provides a window, until July 1, 2022, for a municipality or unincorporated place to either provide the bureau with proof of an affirmative vote or decision or to hold a local option election or, in the case of an unincorporated place, to authorize the sale of liquor. This bill requires the bureau, no later than October 1, 2020, to notify a municipality or unincorporated place that has a business licensed by the bureau in it that the bureau does not have a record of a local option vote or decision authorizing the sale of liquor in that municipality or unincorporated place. In order to continue as a municipality or unincorporated place in which the sale of liquor is authorized, that municipality or unincorporated place must either provide proof of a local option election or decision authorizing the sale of liquor or, before July 1, 2022, hold a local option election to authorize the sale of liquor or, in the case of an unincorporated place, decide affirmatively to authorize the sale of liquor. Beginning July 1, 2022, if a municipality or unincorporated place that has been notified of noncompliance fails to affirm the authorization to sell liquor, the bureau is prohibited from licensing an establishment or agency liquor store in that municipality or unincorporated place. If the bureau fails to notify by October 1, 2020 a municipality or unincorporated place in which there is a business licensed by the bureau that the municipality or unincorporated place is in noncompliance with the requirement to hold a local option election or issue a decision authorizing the sale of liquor in that municipality or unincorporated place, then the bureau may not fail to continue to license a business based on that noncompliance.

This bill also makes the following changes to the laws regarding the authorization of the sale of liquor in a municipality.

  1. It reduces the number of signatures of voters needed on a petition to hold a local option election to determine whether the sale of liquor is authorized in a municipality from 15% of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in that municipality to signatures of 30 voters in that municipality.

2. It allows the municipal officers in a municipality to hold a local option election.

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