News: Quick Takes

House Bill 4, extending payment deadlines on alcohol permits, signed into law

Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law House Bill 4, extending the delay on payment deadlines for the renewal of certain alcohol permits. 

The extension continues until 90 days after all executive orders limiting permittees’ full operation are rescinded or expire, the bill says. 

The bill would also allow certain ABC permittees whose operation is limited by executive orders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to request a refund of any permit fees paid for the 2020-21 permit year, the bill says. It also directs the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to reinstate or reactivate any permits canceled or moved to inactive status.

Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Henderson, a primary sponsor of the bill, has said to expect an active biennium on issues related to legislation pertaining to alcohol and the state-run system.
More than 120 bars across North Carolina lost their licenses in January because they hadn’t paid fees to the state. Most fell behind on their fees because they were out of money; Cooper had shut down all private bars as part of his COVID-19 regulations.

The ABC Commission quickly walked back its decision about the licenses after hearing from bar owners, as well as lawmakers, including Moffitt. 

Private bars have been closed since last March, with only limited outdoor seating allowed months later. Thursday, Cooper announced that he will allow, beginning 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, bars and other venues to open at 30% capacity and serve customers alcohol until 11 p.m., as opposed to 9 p.m. or earlier. Cooper also lifted the 100-person outdoor limit.

Another alcohol measure, H.B. 73, removing certain ABC renewal fees due May 1, or May 1 through April 30, 2022, is in legislative committee.