Summary: After a short debate, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted not to adopt a definition change that would have further restricted activities that can happen at breweries and distilleries. Taku Lanes’ license has been renewed, which means Juneau’s bowling alley, which is now operated as PINZ, is a step closer to serving beer and wine.
It’s a flurry of activity. Taku Lanes license has been renewed. It will now need to be transferred to PINZ, which could possibly happen at the ABC Board’s January meeting.
The motion to not adopt the regulations passes unanimously. McConnell asked if that means the matter is closed, and Klein said it is. She also asked if that in effect, AMCO staff should ignore the “other recreational activities” portion of regulations.
Klein said for now, yes, but egregious matters should be brought to the board.
Klein said he was “blown away” by the public outpouring of public comment supporting manufacturers .
“The number of municipalities, the number of organizations, the number of chambers of commerce wrote us resolutions indicating the industry has been not only accepted, but it has been embraced by governments and those involved in business as an asset,” Klein said. “There were only four letters in that entire 1,270 that spoke in favor of these regulations.”
“I would urge all the constituents to pay close attention then, remain open minded, stay at the table and have discussions,” Brady said. “Changes will be coming.”
Brady said while he’s not a fan of over-regulation, but it’s important to keep in mind alcohol is a substance that merits regulation.
“We’re not dealing with Twinkies or tires or books here, we’re dealing with a substance that has cultural benefit and a potential for societal harm,” Brady said.
Board member Sara Erickson of Kenai said she appreciates an attempt to define other recreation opportunities, but tasting rooms are already tightly regulated. She said the board needs to be open to change.
“I’m very open to changes in Title IV and offering less restriction,” Erickson said. “The public has made it very clear what they want.”
A motion has been made not to adopt the regulations, it’s been seconded and now being discussed.
“Despite what has been stated in some of the over 1,000 pages of public comments, and I have read them in their entirety, it was not the intent for manufacturers to become taprooms,” said board member Glenn Brady of Fairbanks.
He said removing regulation is ultimately to the detriment of the industry as a whole.
The presentation is wrapped up, and the agenda is back into focus, and the board is talking about the definition of recreation opportunities.
“It’s now strictly up to the board and consider regulations,” said board chair Bob Klein.
The meeting is back in session.
The board are hearing about the Office of Administrative Hearings. OAH is an independent hearing panel for administrative appeals for government bodies’ decisions.
The board is breaking until 1 p.m. It sounds like there will be a presentation at that time, then discussion of recreation restrictions, then resuming the agenda.
The board is now considering renewing a license for a Residence Inn by Marriott in Anchorage. McConnell identified this hotel as the one that prompted earlier discussion of hotels offering free alcohol.
McConnell said she recommends denying the renewal.
The board moved to renew it and recommend the hotel apply for a beverage dispensary tourism license.
It could be a while before Juneau’s bowling alley is discussed, but it may come up before a lunch break that’s scheduled for noon.
Looking ahead on the agenda, it looks like Juneau’s bowling alley is poised to be able to serve alcohol again. The business formerly known as Taku Lanes and now named PINZ was denied renewal for the 2019-20 licensing period, but a law passed by the Legislature last session and signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy essentially grandfathers in old recreational site licenses.
If the license is reinstated, the current owners will then need to apply to transfer the license to the people who have been operating PINZ since May.
Hopefully, it will become clear how quickly the license will go into effect as the meeting progresses.
Since returning from executive session, the board has been mired in discussion about a request to remove a Bethel man from the restricted purchaser list. People who are convicted of certain violations cannot purchase alcohol by written order.
The request seems unlikely to be granted based on the ongoing discussion.
The meeting is back into open session.
The matter of Gold Creek Salmon Bake was postponed to the next meeting.
The board is entering executive session to discuss the transfer of a restaurant location. The restaurant in question is listed on the agenda as 851 Gold Creek Salmon Bake: Alaska Travel Adventures Inc., of Juneau.
According to the agenda, the executive session is for consideration of a criminal history report. It’s unclear how long this might take.
AMCO Director Erika McConnell is presenting a draft policy regarding hotels providing free alcohol.
Per the draft policy, if a hotel meets the following criteria, it would be permitted to serve alcohol without a license: Alcohol is provided only to registered guests of the hotel, alcohol is provided at no specific cost (cost is included in hotel stay), only beer and wine may be provided, alcohol may be offered and provided no more than three nights in a calendar week, food must be served at all times alcohol is provided, the period of alcohol service may last no more than two hours in a single day and the hotel may not advertise the service of free alcohol in Alaska.
A board member said the idea of using free alcohol to essentially market a hotel doesn’t sit well with him.
McConnell said the draft is the result of a hotel without a restaurant that has a license for eating establishments that serve alcohol.
Another board member also expressed concern with the idea, and discussion is being postponed until later in the meeting.
The board has moved on to the licensing report.
It sounds like there were be a tidal wave of alcohol license renewals, which are to required to be sent out no later than Nov. 1.
“There were approximately 948 licenses required to renew this cycle, as of the date of this report (10/31/2019) there were 169 license renewal applications received and 44 deemed complete to be considered on this agenda,” reads a report from Mikal Martin, records and licensing supervisor. “I strongly recommend that all licensees submit their renewals as soon as possible in order to allow the maximum amount of time to complete any corrections deemed necessary to their application(s).”
There’s an ongoing discussion of compliance with regulation. Board members have expressed dissatisfaction with the state of enforcement.
Enforcement supervisor James Hoelscher —it’s difficult to identify exactly who is speaking by calling in to this meeting —said there are not ample resources to do his job as thoroughly as possible.
“The tools are not available to us,” Hoelscher said.
The discussion was prompted by complaints in public comments about bars and breweries not following regulations.
Hoelscher said violation should be reported as close to when events transpire as possible and reported to the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office rather than in public comments.
Hoelscher’s report is included in the meeting packet.
During a period set aside for public testimony, no one called in to the meeting being held in Anchorage to speak for or against the definition change that would ban First Friday events and fundraisers at breweries and distilleries. No one spoke in person either.
It may take a while for the board to get to the discussion of the definition change. Its final item under the regulations heading of the agenda.
The next ABC Board meeting will be held Jan. 21-22, 2020 in Juneau.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will consider a definition change that would further restrict the sorts of events that can take place in breweries, distilleries and wineries.
After months of discussion and thousands of pages of public comments, which were mostly in opposition to the definition change, the board can decide whether to adopt the change, amend the change and re-submit it for public comment.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.