The Alaska Senate today unanimously passed Senate Bill 16 to clarify irregularities detrimental to small businesses in the state’s alcohol license laws.
In 2017, the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board began to crack down on alcohol licenses they deemed to be operating contrary to state law, placing at risk several long-time licenses important to the Alaska public. One of those license types issued under the recreational site category is the license held by the Alaska State Fair, which has been operating under the recreational site license since 1981. Others include other regional state fairs, ski areas, bowling alleys, and tourist operations.
The common-sense bill does not add new operators. However, the bill clarifies existing licensees as being appropriate for how they had used their recreational licenses in the past. SB 16, also known as the “Save the Alaska State Fair Act,” expands license types to specifically allow alcohol service in several areas where the ABC Board had recently denied renewal.
“The spirit of this bill is about supporting small businesses and existing high-quality operators,” said Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, the bill’s sponsor. “Part of what funds the state fair and keeps ticket prices affordable are alcohol sales, which also help fund fair entertainment and great youth organizations like 4-H. SB 16 will ensure Alaskans can continue to enjoy the state fair, as they have for nearly 40 years. This bill is part of a larger effort to modernize and reform our state’s alcohol laws, but this specific issue required immediate action to assist small, responsibly-operated businesses in their continued operation.”
Other than formalizing previously-existing licenses into statute, the bill increases the number of special events a fraternal/patriotic organization can have per year, grandfathers recreational site licenses that were valid on December 31, 2018, and allows surety bond relief to responsible operators (paid taxes/filed timely for 3 calendar years).