Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Inn liquor bill killed in House

Dems step down, ‘Add the Words’ resurrected


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A bill that would have given the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, above, access to a liquor license was rejected by state legislators Monday. Express file photo

A bill that would have made it easier for resort city inns to gain licenses to serve liquor by the glass was struck down in the Idaho House on Monday.

House Bill 478, drafted by Boise attorney Bill Roden at the request of the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, would have allowed any resort city inn with at least 15 rooms, a full-service restaurant and meeting facilities to apply for a license to sell liquor by the glass.

The bill was passed out of the House State Affairs Committee earlier this month, but failed when sent to the full House on Monday.

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would have helped the Knob Hill Inn and other resort town inns that can't get a license due to the restrictions of the Idaho code, which limits the number of liquor licenses issued to one per each 1,500 residents of a town.

"It would make the Knob Hill, for instance, competitive and help meet the customer service needs of their guests," Jaquet said.

Jaquet and 25 other legislators voted for the measure on the House floor, while 43 other lawmakers killed the bill.

"I'm very disappointed," Jaquet said in an email. "I'm looking at the vote, [and most votes were based on] temperance, with some no votes based on the upcoming primary campaign."

However, Jaquet said she is still optimistic about the possibility of a similar bill coming forward next session.

"This does serve notice to the governor that his leadership is needed in this situation," she said, echoing a statement she made last month about the necessity for alcohol license reform.

Jaquet said the governor would be more likely to take it on in a non-election year.

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Two more legislators step down

Community School graduates Rep. Brian Cronin and Sen. Nicole LeFavour, both D-Boise, announced this month that neither would run for another term.

As a Democrat, the state's first openly gay elected official and the only openly gay person serving in the Legislature, LeFavour said Idaho is a "a tough place to be in the minority."

"That's not a popular role to play, and I certainly can't do it forever," LeFavour said in a prepared statement.

LeFavour has worked on tax policy, prison sentencing reform and mental health and substance abuse issues. A former teacher, she strongly opposed State Superintendent Tom Luna's education reform package last year, saying it was bad for students, teachers and the state.

"I leave the Legislature knowing I did everything I could last year to try to stop the cuts to education and the radical change in priorities from teachers and classrooms to technology," she said.

Cronin said in a prepared statement that his two terms in the Legislature have been rewarding, but serving there has placed a strain on the personal and professional aspects of his life.

"Serving in the Legislature has undoubtedly been one of the great honors of my life," Cronin said. "I still have days when I pinch myself, marveling at the fact that I get to work in this awe-inspiring Capitol, side by side with some remarkable people."

Cronin said he would still remain committed to public service.

'Add the Words' gets second chance

A second version of the "Add the Words" bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity was introduced in the House last week, following the Senate's refusal to print one version of the bill.

LeFavour said the bill may have a better chance of passage—or at least a public hearing—in the House as opposed to the Senate.

"The House tends to deal with issues a bit more directly," she said in a press release. "This particular issue is so fundamental to freedom and to our duty as legislators to ensure people in our state live in peace and security without fear of losing jobs or housing or facing other forms of discrimination."




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