Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

Liquor Board Rules & Regs Steering Committee Meeting #1

Written by Becky Witt

Rules Committee Meeting #1 – August 4, 2015, 10:00am

Committee members present: Mr. Stanley Fine, Chair, Mr. William Bauer, Ms. Minda Goldberg (representative from the City Solicitor’s office), Mr. Theo Harris, Mr. Tom Yeager, Mr. Steven Johnson, Mr. Melvin Kodenski.

Others present: Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras, Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, Victor Corbin, Fern Shen, Becky Witt, Chris Redwood.

After brief introductions by all present, Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth and Tom Akras discussed the statutory requirement that the Liquor Board update its rules and regulations by October 31, 2015. Akras has been working on a draft set of new regulations for both liquor and adult entertainment licenses for the past six months, based on the regulations that other Maryland counties have adopted. Staff will be posting drafts of the steering committee’s work on the Liquor Board’s website, along with minutes of the committee meetings.

Mr. Fine suggested that the committee discuss how they will work on each section. He said that the committee should wait to vote on a section until they’ve received public comment, so it might make sense to vote at the beginning of the next meeting, after all input has been received. Fine said that the committee would be proceeding in order through the rules, subsection by subsection.

Mr. Johnson suggested that the committee members should receive a red-lined copy of the rules draft so that they could see simultaneously the current and proposed rules. Bailey-Hedgepeth replied that the overhaul is so complete that a red-lined version is very visually difficult to understand. Mr. Fine also suggested that the Board staff put together a “crib sheet” that shows where each proposed rule comes from: for example, Article 2B or borrowed from another county’s set of rules.

Mr. Kodenski asked what happens if the Board does not meet its deadline of October 31. No one really responded.

There was a discussion of a quorum: since there are 12 (or maybe 14?) committee members, is 7 a quorum? Can a majority of those present (possibly as few as 4 of the 7) vote to move the committe forward? This was not decided at the meeting. There were only seven committee members present at the meeting, out of 12 (or 14?). Fine noted that there could end up being a majority and a minority opinion on more contentious issues, which both could be submitted to the Board for a final decision.

Timeline: the committee will meet six times through the end of September, upon which time it will submit a proposed set of rules to the Liquor Board commissioners. The meetings are currently scheduled at 10am on the following dates: August 19, September 2, September 9, September 16, September 22, and September 29. Bailey-Hedgepeth said that the Board would have one or two public hearings on the proposed rules in the month of October before adopting them, at which public comment would be taken. The Board may change the rules from the proposed set given by the committee; the committee is advisory only.

At this point, the non-committee members were allowed to ask questions. Victor Corbin suggested that some of the meetings and hearings be held in the evenings, so that community members who work during the day can attend. Chris Redwood said that the meeting room should be bigger, to accommodate a larger group of community members and should be televised or webcast for those who cannot attend.

Fern Shen asked about the people at the table who were not listed on the press release as committee members: Minda Goldberg from the City Solicitor’s office and Tom Yeager from the Downtown Partnership. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth replied that these two people were always supposed to be on the committee, so there may be as many as 14 people on the committee, instead of 12. There was also some confusion about whether or not committee members could send substitutes on their behalf to the meetings; some committee members, like Theo Harris, said that they intended to send substitutes. Mr. Harris was not on the list sent out by the Liquor Board: he is a board member of Greektown CDC and is also a real estate developer.

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