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New Harford County Liquor Control Board Legislation

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2014 | Business Law

Joseph Snee asks Harford County Liquor Board to consider new legislation

A new piece of legislation would change the requirements for holding an alcoholic beverage license in Harford County.

SMLH partner, Joseph Snee represents several alcoholic beverage establishments in Harford County. Snee attended a Harford County Liquor Control Board meeting on February 19th and asked the board to support this new legislation. Snee told the board that, “You still have the two most important things, people carding to avoid underage consumption and people to ensure there is no over-consumption.” Delegate Mary-Dulany James introduced HB-1170 before the Maryland General Assembly earlier in the session.

The Harford County Liquor Control Board has shown their support of the legislation after the meeting on February 19th.

Read more about the new requirements below, or see the Baltimore Sun article HERE.

The new law would require licensees on Class B restaurant or Class D tavern licenses in Harford to be Maryland residents for a minimum of one year, removing the requirement that a licensee also reside in the county. Other class licensees would still have to be Harford residents during the time they hold the license.

The legislation would also eliminate some ownership requirements for licensees.

“You still have a responsible person from the state of Maryland who doesn’t necessarily have a stake or membership,” Snee told the board. “You still have the two most important things, people carding to avoid underage consumption and people to ensure there is no over-consumption.”

The existing law is antiquated, he said, written in 1983 when the thinking was “people should know the customers coming into their buildings.”

“In the legal world, we figure out ways around this stuff all the time,” added Snee, who represents a number of establishments licensed to sell alcohol in the county.

Board member Vernon Gauss said the current ownership rules mandate the licensee have some financial interest in the business and, therefore, responsibility in adhering to the liquor laws.

“Ownership does not transfer to conscientiousness,” Snee replied.

Albert J.A. Young, another local lawyer with a large alcoholic beverage license practice, echoed Snee’s comments. Young said an establishment could lose out on a good licensee who doesn’t live in Harford.

“You could have a Baltimore County resident, top notch, a crackerjack, who’s perfect for the position, but because he lives a mile over the line, you can’t use him,” he said. “Instead you have to get someone from Darlington who lives 20 miles away.”

The board at first held off taking a stand in support of the bill, which is scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. March 3 before the House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee. There were questions about how liquor inspectors would verify the addresses of licensees outside the county.

Having gotten what it considered a satisfactory answer, the board sent a letter of support for the bill to Snee Wednesday afternoon, Board Administrator Judi Powell said.

Read more updates on Harford County’s Liquor Control Board at the Baltimore Sun:

Elimination Sought on Liquor Licensee Residency in Harford County

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