Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

Special Subcommittees of the House Committee on General Laws and Senate Committee on Rehabilitation & Social Services Studying Certain ABC Issues

July 29, 2008

A joint meeting of the Special Subcommittees of the House Committee on General Laws and the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services Studying Certain ABC Issues met in Richmond with Delegate Terrie Suit as chair.


Pam Evans, Chair, ABC Board
Pam Evans addressed the special subcommittees and offered the board's assistance and support. She explained that the single biggest complaint to the board is the complexity of the license application process and continuing license requirements.

Curtis Coleburn, ABC Board
Curtis Coleburn addressed the special subcommittees on the planned elimination of the five-food-groups stocking requirements for certain off-premises licensees. Although the requirements would be eliminated, the dollar amount of inventory and sales requirement would remain.

Mr. Coleburn also addressed the enforcement challenge of the ABC Board. Between 2004 and 2007 the number of licenses increased from 14,000 to 19,000, yet the number of enforcement officers has not changed. The chairman asked why the ABC Board, a self¬-funded agency, has not hired more enforcement staff. Mr. Coleburn responded that even though ABC is self-funded, the General Assembly limits the board's overall budget. He stated that ABC has hired more civilian employees to assist agents in processing the licensing paperwork.

Finally, Mr. Coleburn reviewed ABC laws and regulations in other states. Most significantly, approximately 40 states have some form of food requirement for establishments serving mixed beverages. The majority of those states simply require food to be available during times mixed beverages are served. Additionally, 13 states only permit restaurants to serve mixed beverages. He also noted that states use seat, table, kitchen, proximity, population, high licensing fees, and square footage requirements to assist in limiting the number of mixed beverage licenses granted. One of the more unique regulatory requirements exists in Texas, where licensees have to post a bond to get a license. Any violations of law or regulation by the licensee will result in forfeiture of the bond. Mr. Coleburn stated that 43 states have dram shop liability.

Limited Service License Discussion

Next there was a discussion of a new licensing category, limited service license, that would include day spa, meal assembly kitchen, certain annual banquet, and museums licenses, where service of alcoholic beverages to patrons is incidental to the main business activity of the licensee. Limited service licenses must have food available when alcoholic beverages are served as part of the requirements for the license.

Chairman Suit asked if any new requirements based on population or proximity account for the influx of tourists in certain parts of the Commonwealth. The members began a discussion reviewing the potential impact that new licensing requirements would have on existing and future licensees. Generally, all members agreed that the food requirement should still be a major component of most mixed beverage licenses.

With regard to the new licensing category, the members asked staff to present a more detailed draft for the next meeting. Delegate Albo stated that he would like to consider eliminating the 45% ratio requirement for certain mixed beverage licensees, but ultimately all mixed beverage licensees should be required to have a full kitchen.

Public Comment

One member of the public stated that there are already too many mixed beverage licenses issued and would like to see the special subcommittees work to limit the number of mixed beverage licenses granted. Walter Marston expressed concern about the proliferation of licenses and that any new license category the subcommittee may propose should have a means of limiting the number of licenses granted. A representative from the Virginia Nightlife Association also spoke to the members and offered his assistance.

Next Meeting

The chairman asked that staff work with industry members to develop an alternative to the food ratio requirement for certain mixed beverage licensees. The next meeting date will be posted on the study's website and the General Assembly calendar as soon as information is available.

The Hon. Linda "Toddy" Puller
The Hon. Terrie Suit

For information, contact:
Maria Everett and Patrick Cushing, DLS Staff

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

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