After much debate, the Senate has voted 27-7 in favor of HB 159, the bill to allow a liquor license at the Nez Perce Tribe’s new convention center. Several senators complained about special laws allowing liquor licenses, saying instead the state’s system should be reformed. Gov. Butch Otter proposed that several years ago, but lawmakers rejected it, keeping the current system that requires a special law to grant a liquor license outside a city limit, and limits those within cities on a strict, population-based formula. HB 159, which previously passed the House, now heads to the governor's desk.
Meanwhile, the House State Affairs Committee this morning introduced a resolution from Rep. Mark Gibbs, R-Grace, to appoint an interim legislative study committee to examine the state’s alcoholic beverage laws with an eye toward reform. Gibbs sponsored unsuccessful legislation this session to allow more restaurants in resort towns like Driggs to sell liquor; despite being an often-busy resort town, Driggs’ population limits it to just two liquor licenses.