Little vetoes historic theater liquor license bill
By Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
Gov. Brad Little issued his final veto of the year on Thursday, blocking a bill that would have given Idaho governments and historic theaters some extra time before having to put their liquor licenses to use.
Lawmakers for years have sought to update Idaho’s unique liquor license system, which is based on city population quotas, and resolve its long waitlists and speculators who profit from reselling licenses.
Recipients under the liquor licensing law must put their license into actual use for at least six months or forfeit the license back to the state. Senate Bill 1194, sponsored by Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, would have placed a three-year pause on that “actual use” requirement for local governments that receive a liquor license. It also would have allowed theaters on the national register of historic places to hold a liquor license as long as they use it at least twice per year.
“While the Legislature sought to address a global issue involving liquor licensing this session, I am vetoing this bill because it represents nothing more than a carveout in state law for one entity,” Little wrote in a short veto letter, included below.
As reported by BoiseDev, lawmakers did pass a bill this year to reform the broader liquor license system. Senate Bill 1120, which was signed by Little, ends the ability to sell newly issued licenses on the private market, and limits any existing liquor licenses to a single sale or transfer in the future.
“Realizing that current quota license holders may have a significant investment in their license, the bill will allow current quota licensees to sell their license one time. Thereafter, those licenses will also be non-transferable. Through attrition we can correct this flaw in the current licensing model,” lawmakers wrote in the statement of purpose for SB 1120.
Little signed another bill earlier this session that allows golf courses located on certain sized lakes to extend their existing liquor license to cover buildings within half a mile of the golf course boundaries.
Another bill considered this session would have incorporated irrigation details into the definition for waterfront resorts, allowing certain properties along the Boise River to qualify for liquor licenses. Another would have created an additional “historic district food and beverage facility license” in resort cities with a liquor-by-the-drink local option sales tax on the books. Both of those bills passed the Senate but did not advance in the House.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.