Rep. Bell Sponsors Bill to Provide Relief for NC Bar Owners
Raleigh, NC – This week, Representative John Bell (R-Wayne) sponsored House Bill 4 - Extend ABC Permit Renewal Fee Deferral to help struggling bar owners who have been forced shut by Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders. Specifically, the bill, which is being led by Representative Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson), is in response to countless bar owners having their liquor permits revoked unexpectedly by the ABC Commission due to delinquent fees. The bill clarifies an existing emergency relief law passed in 2020 to allow bar owners to defer their permit fees until their business is operating at full capacity.
“It’s an honor to file this bill on behalf of struggling bar owners across North Carolina,” said Rep. Moffitt. “This bill will provide desperately needed relief to private bars who are fighting to stay afloat during a pandemic that has drastically limited their ability to conduct business. In the meantime, I’m happy to say I have an agreement in principle with ABC Chairman Guy to reinstate liquor permits that were erroneously revoked and pause revocations until 90 days after Governor Cooper’s emergency orders expire.”
Last year, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 to prohibit North Carolina’s more than 19,504 restaurants and bars from offering any indoor accommodations. This included 6,000 bars in the state. Since then, the Cooper Administration gradually allowed bars to reopen at limited capacity in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
To provide financial relief to these establishments, the General Assembly passed legislation (Session Law 2020-94, Senate Bill 226) allowing ABC permittees to defer their permit fees for 90 days, a period which would begin on the date the Governor signs an additional executive order rescinding the prohibition on those permittees' operations. Despite this language, on January 4th, the ABC Commission revoked the liquor permits of numerous bars across North Carolina on account of nonpayment of fees.
Chairman Moffitt spoke with Chairman Guy of the ABC Commission and reached an agreement to reinstate licenses revoked in error and defer fee payments until 90 days after bars are able to reopen at full capacity.