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Jul 26 Liquor Board Hearing / Entertainment Permit & Alcohol Delivery, etc.

UPDATE 2011.08.04 Regarding RR #76 Delivery
Laurel Gazette Aug 4
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UPDATE 2011.07.28 Regarding RR#76 Delivery
Washington Post, Laurel Gazette
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UPDATE 2011.07.09 In the July 12 County Council Agenda:"Proposed correspondence to Mr. Franklin D. Jackson, Chairman, Board of License Commissioners, expressing the Council’s concerns with proposed policy changes on home delivery of alcoholic beverages." 
See also Jul 26 Liquor Board Hearing / Entertainment Permit & Alcohol Delivery, etc.  It is not clear if public comment will be taken during that part of the council meeting, before the council decides on this proposed correspondence. The time for general public comments is later, at the very end of the council meeting. Before the July 12 hearing, your views can be expressed to County District 1 Councilwoman, Mary Lehman.
Council sessions can be watched and heard “live” online by visiting www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/council.  Click “Watch Live” to stream.  The recommended program for playing the streaming video is Microsoft Window Media Player version 9 or above.
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UPDATE 2011.07.06 Here are the Liquor Board's further revised versions of RR#75_Entertainment and RR#76_Delivery, very visibly incorporating public input from the June 28 Liquor Board Hearing.  The Liquor Board will decide on these regulations at its July 26 public hearing ...
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UPDATE 2011.07.01 At 10:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011, the Liquor Board will hold another public hearing regarding new regulations #76 Delivery & #75 Entertainment -- which the Liquor Board is in the process of revising based on public input from the June 28 hearing (see below) -- and also revised Regulation #23 "PROHIBITION AGAINST DELIVERY OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES TO A DORMITORY OR SORORITY/FRATERNITY ASSOCIATED ANY UNIVERSITY OR EDUCATIONAL FACILITY."
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Here are my incomplete notes from the day-long Liquor Board hearings i attended Tuesday, June 28, 2011 pending local newspaper coverage. This is my own understanding, subject to any factual corrections, which are always welcome to Garold.Stone@gmail.com
New Liquor Board Commissioner Charles Caldwell, III, replacing Armando [Joe] Camacho, was present but recused himself from participating in the hearing.

The hearing was to take public comment on four new proposed Liquor Board regulations; no decisions were taken by the Board. Further public comment on any of the proposed regulations can be submitted in writing by noon, Friday, July 1 
  • by FAX to (301) 985-3548
  • by email to Administrative Assistant DMBryant@co.pg.md.us, or
  • to Chairman Franklin D. Jackson, County Service Building, 5012 Rhode Island Avenue, Room 204, Hyattsville, Maryland 20781 Phone: (301) 699-2770
On July 5, the Liquor Board will announce another hearing sometime in July on their final drafts of these regulations.
 
Regulation #75 Entertainment Permit (text and discussion)
The Chairman explained that this regulation is mandated by a law (HB-558) that was passed in the Maryland Legislature last year. It applies only to Class B Beer, Wine, Liquor license holders (restaurants, bars, clubs) -- which are something less than the 185 available Class B Licenses. The Liquor Board has some discretion in defining scope and procedures, but it is constrained by the explicit provisions in HB-558 and other law. These are some of the issues that came up in comments presented at the hearing:
  • For what activities does a Class B license holder need an annual "Special Entertainment Permit"?
    • The Chairman interpreted HB-558 to cover essentially "live" entertainment (*). He said that according to long-standing Board policy, "Live Entertainment" meant hired performers present at the event -- including bands and DJs. Live Entertainment would not include the use by customers of equipment like juke boxes, karaoke machines, open-microphones. A DJ with karaoke is still a "live" event.
    • (*) Per HB-558: "Establishments that the Board determines are in the principal business of providing family entertainment are exempt." 
      • The Liquor Board heard comments and asked for more input about what could be considered "Family Entertainment", and hence exempt from the entertainment permit.
    • Some testimonies suggested that it was only certain kinds of [problematic] live entertainment that should require "the special entertainment permit", such as for events which need what the permit "authorizes" in HB-558 section (IV) on page 3:  "cover charge", "public dancing", and "entertainment" -- a lawyerly discussion ensued about the significance of "and" versus "or", etc. The Liquor Board continues to seek further guidance about the legislature's intent.
  • HB-558 allows Class B establishments with the new entertainment permit to stay open only until 2am. Previously, the provisions of some establishments' liquor licenses have allowed them to stay open until 3am precisely because they were offering live entertainment. Does HB-558 mean that no Class B establishment can stay open past 2am? The Liquor Board is seeking legal clarification.
  • The Greenbelt City Police Chief asked that for establishments within incorporated localities, the affected local police departments also be included in the HB558-required security plan reviews and comments by Prince George's County Police Chief. The Chairman said that could be done. I don't think any other incorporated localities testified at the hearing -- some may have submitted written testimony.
Regulation #76 Delivery of Alcohol (text)
The Chairman explained the interesting history that brought the current Liquor Board to propose this new regulation. Since as early as 1947, maybe earlier, it has been and still is legal in Maryland for liquor stores to deliver alcohol (only to locations within the county). The chairman presumed that only a limited number of liquor stores (about 6 - 8) have been making such deliveries over the years, but the previous process did not require registration. (Liquor Stores already deliver in Prince George's County, Washington Examiner, 2011.06.14). In 1995 Maryland law began to require that liquor stores who wanted to start delivering alcohol must get a letter of authorization from their county liquor board. No such authorization letters were ever requested or issued in Prince George's county. Recently a liquor store requested an authorization letter. The Liquor Board could have just held a hearing and decided whether or not to issue an authorization letter to that particular liquor store -- but first it is proposing this regulation to establish procedures and accountability to make sure that alcohol deliveries are made only to legal recipients and track any problems. The following issues came up in public comments at the hearing:
  • A staff member testified on behalf of County District 1 Councilwoman Lehman regarding community concerns about alcohol delivery.
  • Some residents said that the current Maryland law allowing alcohol deliveries should be rescinded.
  • A liquor store owner who makes deliveries said that he doesn't make any money on delivery service which he does only occasionally and always for free as a courtesy to big customers or long-time customers, such as two local firehouses and local churches.
  • Some residents wanted to make the one-time $250 administrative fee higher ($5,000) and annual. Someone suggested that the Liquor Board does not have a legal basis for creating a new administrative fee.
  • How can this regulation be written to prevent or reduce 
    • "strawman purchases" for minors by persons 21+, especially on college campuses, etc.
    • possible violence against people making the deliveries, like the recent and ongoing attacks on pizza delivery people.
Regulation #66 Special Sunday On-Sale Permit
There were no testimonies about this. Only the phrase in bold is being added to section C of existing RR-66. 
  • QUOTE: C. In order to qualify for the Permit, the daily On Sale food receipts must equal 40% of the total combined On Sale receipts for food and alcoholic beverages.  Such a ratio of food sales to the total daily On Sale receipts must be maintained for at least six months prior to the application for the Permit.  The Board may waive the six-month period in its discretion.  The Board may grant a 180-day temporary license in its discretion. END QUOTE
Regulation #?? - Signage on Liquor Stores (I don't have a copy)
Liquor store owners and distributors gave comments about the possible economic impacts on their business of removing virtually all signs from the outside of their buildings and limiting signs facing out through their windows to 50% of the glass area.