After much negotiation with the League and other local government interests, a modified ordinance decriminalization bill advanced in the House Wednesday with a favorable report from the House Judiciary Committee. Now, instead of decriminalizing all local ordinances, SB 584 Criminal Law Reform would allow local governments to retain criminal enforcement of their local codes, with one major caveat: if the local government was a city over 1,000 in population, or a county over 20,000 in population, it would need to submit a report that lists of all of its ordinances that were punishable by a criminal penalty. If the General Assembly does not receive this report by Nov. 1, 2019, then that local government’s code of ordinances would immediately become enforceable only by civil penalties. The legislature instituted this reporting requirement last year, and hundreds of local governments have already complied. The bill must next be heard by the House Rules Committee. Cities and towns especially thank Rep. Dennis Riddell for his consideration of local government concerns in working to revise the bill.
A few alcohol-related bills progressed this week, including HB 536 ABC Omnibus Regulatory Reform, which passed the House with language that would allow the sale of more than one alcoholic beverage to a single patron at a time; allow the consumption of alcohol at bingo games and farmers markets; place restriction on the establishment of new Alcoholic Beverage Control boards; enable a local option for spirituous liquor tastings in ABC stores; and allow local ABC boards to deliver liquor to mixed-beverage permittees for a fee. Meanwhile, the House passed SB 290 ABC Regulatory Reform Bill, which contains language similar to HB 536 but originally pertained to distilleries. The bill has gone back to the Senate for concurrence; H536 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.