Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ted Davis issues statement to ‘shed some light’ on concerns over ABC bill

The bill, sponsored in the House by Davis, would effectively prevent new liquor-serving bars from opening; Davis has not responded to repeated requests for comment

Rep. Ted Davis, Jr. has not answered questions about his recent legislation, which would effectively prevent any new liquor-serving bars from opening statewide. Davis did release a statement on Saturday afternoon, to 'shed light' on the bill and his involvement in it. (Port City Daily photo | File photo)
Rep. Ted Davis, Jr. has not answered questions about his recent legislation, which would effectively prevent any new liquor-serving bars from opening statewide. Davis did release a statement on Saturday afternoon, to ‘shed light’ on the bill and his involvement in it. (Port City Daily photo/File photo)

NORTH CAROLINA–After sponsoring a bill designed to prevent new liquor-serving bars from opening, Representative Ted Davis, Jr., has issued a statement intended to “shed some light” on the legislation.

Miss the story? Catch up here: Ted Davis’s new bill would effectively prevent new bars from opening

On Thursday, Davis sponsored the House version of a bicameral bill that would rewrite state law to force any new business planning to open a bar to either operate as a non-profit or serve food–and demonstrate that 30 percent of its gross receipts are from food and non-alcoholic beverages. Already-operating bars would be grandfathered in under the bill.

On Thursday and Friday, Davis did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the bill.

State Senator Andy Wells, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, did answer questions, confirming that bill was intended to prevent any future liquor-serving bar from opening in the state. He said the impetus of the bill was a series of fatal shooting in the Hickory area, which Wells believed were tied to liquor-serving establishments.

Wells acknowledged that the bill left several key facets unclear, including whether existing ABC permits could be transferred (i.e. inherited, sold, or transferred between business partners.)

On Saturday afternoon, Davis posted a lengthy statement concerning the bill on Facebook; he emailed duplicate versions of the statement to several news outlets. Davis has still not responded to specific questions.

Below is the text of Davis’ statement in full:

I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on House Bill 944, entitled ABC Regulation and Reform.

Representative Jamie Boles and I were appointed to be the House Chairs, and Senator Shirley Randleman was appointed to be the Senate Chair, of the Justice and Public Safety Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, which met during the interim period between the end of the 2017 Long Session and the beginning of the 2018 Short Session.  This Oversight Committee is comprised of members from the House and the Senate and has the responsibility of hearing various presentations concerning different issues and determining if any Bills should be recommended by that Committee for introduction during the Short Session.  One such presentation by Senator Andy Wells involved strengthening the State’s present Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) laws as a result of permit violations, as well as criminal activity including deaths, which had occurred in the vicinity of bars and private clubs.  After hearing the presentation and discussing the matter, the Oversight Committee voted to recommend that legislation be introduced for consideration.  This legislation was subsequently introduced in companion Senate Bill 714 and House Bill 944, which have the same language.  The normal procedure is that the Chairs of the Committee which is recommending the legislation be the Primary Sponsors of the Bill, and that is why Representative Boles and I are listed as the Primary Sponsors on the House Bill.  Senators Randleman and Wells are Primary Sponsors on SB 714.    

It is important to note that HB 944 or SB 714 are a long way from becoming law.  As to HB 944, it must be heard by the House ABC Committee, where the language could be changed.  If approved, it must then be heard by the House Judiciary 1 Committee, where the language could be changed.  If approved, it must then be heard on the House floor, where the language could be changed.  If the Bill passes the House, it will have to go to the Senate for the same process, where the language could be changed.  The same procedure would apply to SB 714, which is presently in the Senate Rules Committee, but in reverse order from the Senate to the House.  Normally, whichever Bill crosses over from that Chamber to the other will be the Bill that proceeds to a final determination. 

The major concern that I am hearing at this point involves the new requirement that future private clubs will only include establishments that qualify as 501(c) businesses under the Internal Revenue Code and that have been in operation for at least 12 months before applying for an ABC permit.  The most common is a 501(c)(3) business.  This requirement would not apply to any private club permits that were already in place on April 1, 2018.

It is my understanding in discussing the proposed legislation with the legal counsel for the ABC Commission, that a retail establishment (bar) can presently sell beer and wine without having to sell food, and this will not change.  Also, if an establishment presently wants to serve mixed drinks (liquor), it has to become either a restaurant (serving food) or a private club (does not have to serve food), and this will not change.  However, the new legislation would change the definition of a private club as explained above, which is consistent with the majority of the neighboring states of North Carolina.

I would suggest that anyone who is interested in these companion Bills to keep up with the Committees in each Chamber, and when a Hearing date is determined for the proposed legislation, that you go to that particular Committee meeting in Raleigh and let your voices be heard.     

Thanks, Rep. Ted Davis Jr.


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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