Serving the Public
By Ryan Struyk
Associated Press April 7, 2015
BOISE, IDAHO — A bill that would give more liquor licenses to conference centers in Idaho resort towns has cleared a Senate panel.
The Senate State Affairs Committee narrowly voted 5-3 on Tuesday to endorse the plan, which is backed by a central Idaho-based event center hoping to draw more people.
Resort cities often have a limited number of liquor licenses available because licenses in Idaho are granted based on the number of permanent residents in a town.
Kate Haas, who represents the Ketchum-based event center, said the goal is to attract people to resort towns in larger groups than one family or tourist at a time. "When it's just your year-round residents there, a lot of them really struggle during that season to fill those hotel rooms and fill those restaurants," she said.
The plan allows only one additional liquor license per resort town. It also doesn't let a conference or event center sell or transfer its license to another business.
But the bill garnered opposition from the two highest ranking members of the chamber, Republican Sens. Brent Hill and Bart Davis, who say the bill has technical problems.
"Words matter," Davis said. "When I look at the language, it doesn't say what you say it says."
Hill also raised concerns about making sure the bill had enough limitations — alluding to the Legislature's effort to repeal slot-like instant horse racing machines that didn't match many lawmakers' expectations.
Republican Rep. Steven Miller from Fairfield, who is sponsoring the bill, said he hopes the bill will generate business in the resort towns during the offseason.
The bill has already passed the House 40-28. It now goes to the full Senate.
March 27, 2014BOISE, IDAHO — Idahoans now have the opportunity to sample distilled spirits at Idaho distilleries under new legislation signed on March 26, 2014 by Governor Butch Otter.
Senate Bill 1335 passed through the Idaho legislature on March 13 and went into effect July 1, 2014. This bill allows distilleries in Idaho to provide samples of their products at their manufacturing facilities with specific rules for sampling size ant tasting frequency. There will be no charge for these samples.
Increased revenue for the state and agriculture suppliers as well as increased employment opportunities for Idaho citizens were cited among the positive outcomes of allowing tasting during distillery tours. Previously, visitors to Idaho distilleries could only view the distilling process.
"This is a great opportunity for the distilleries in Idaho," said Marje Lowe, one of the founders of 8 Feathers Distillery in Boise. She along with business partner, Sandee Price, lobbied on behalf of the distilleries in this state to help get this bill passed. "We see our distillery as a destination. Now when people come to our distillery for a tour, they can try our product and make an informed purchase decision." Lowe said.
The bill met very little resistance on either side of the legislature – passing the Senate with a vote of 19–5–1 and the House of Representatives with a vote of 58–9–3. The bill was introduced by Senator Chuck Winder (R–Boise) and was carried on the House side by Representative Gayle Batt (R–Wilder).
The distillery movement is on the rise across the country and Idaho is no different. There are currently 8 distilleries in Idaho and 3 more have expressed their intent to open in the next year.