Tuesday, March 10, the House ABC Committee met and passed two measures.
HB 186 – Local Government Objections to ABC Stores, sponsored by Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth) would prohibit a local ABC Board from establishing an ABC store at a location within a municipality under certain conditions.
Under current law, a local ABC Board may choose the location of an ABC store, subject to the approval of the ABC Commission. In making its decision, the local ABC Board is to consider the health, safety, or general welfare of the community; and whether the citizens of the community approved an ABC store in the last election. According to the rules of the ABC Commission, the location of a new store will not be approved unless at least 30 days notice is given to the Chair of the Commission and the community. The ABC Commission will consider any objections to a new store’s location, if the local ABC Board has considered them first and has ruled against those objections. The rules of the ABC Commission direct that stores should not be opened in areas that are principally residential, unreasonably close to a church, school or similar institution, in any slum district or other similarly undesirable place where there is not enough parking available to avoid traffic congestion.
HB 186 would simply amend the law to allow for more public input on an ABC store’s location by:
- Allowing the governing body of the municipality to hold a public hearing and receive information concerning the suitability of the store’s location; and
- Allowing the governing body of that municipality to pass a resolution objecting to the store’s location
The bill provides an additional 45-day period for municipalities to have ample time to conduct a public hearing and submit their objections via a resolution.
In its original form, the measure noted that the ABC Commission would have the final authority on the store’s location, and the municipality would have no right of appeal.
However, Rep. Ronnie Sutton (D-Robeson) strongly objected to that portion of HB 186 that gave the ABC Commission the final word on an ABC store’s location, with no right to appeal. During the meeting Sutton said, “To make it [the bill] stronger I think that we should say we would allow the Commission to make the final decision, but the municipality, citizens or anyone could appeal that in court…because I just don’t like the Commission to have the final authority on decisions that nobody can touch. That’s just not the system or the way we do business in the state of North Carolina.”
Sutton offered an amendment that reflected his concerns and his amendment passed.
“We should be thankful to Rep. Parmon and Rep. Sutton for making a way for the public to have more input on the location of an ABC store whenever there are objections to a proposed store’s location. The belief communities should have more control of their own destiny with respect to alcohol sales is a longstanding contention of the Christian Action League,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director.
The final vote taken on the measure itself passed the ABC Committee without difficulty. HB 186 now moves to the House Judiciary II Committee for a hearing.
The second measure to pass the committee was HB 249-ABC Recycling Tax, sponsored by Rep. Pryor Gibson (D-Union). The bill is considered rather innocuous to the mission and purpose of the Christian Action League.
Under current law, retail establishments possessing ABC permits are required to separate, store, and provide for the collection of recyclable beverage containers.
According to legislative staff:
“House Bill 249 amends the State’s Corporation Income Tax Act and the individual Income Tax Act to provide a tax credit to ABC permittees who are required to recycle beverage containers. (A tax credit reduces tax directly, while a deduction or allowance only reduces taxable income) The amount of the credit would vary, based on the amount the taxpayer paid during the calendar year for the collection or disposal of beverage containers required by law to be recycled. A taxpayer qualifies for the credit if annual recycling collection costs exceed $750. Recycling collection costs of $750-$1500 qualify for a $250 credit’ recycling costs in excess of $1500 qualify for a $500 credit. The taxpayer must file with the tax return any documentation that may be required by the Secretary of Revenue in support of the credit….The bill would become effective for taxable years on or after January 1, 2009. The provision would be repealed January 1, 2013 with regard to the Corporation Income Tax Act, and January 1, 2014 with regard to the Individual Income Tax Act.”
The measure now moves to the House Committee on Finance.