From beer tastings in Washington County and a wine festival in Garrett, from caterer's licenses in Somerset to micro-breweries around the state, there are 68 bills relating to minute changes in alcohol regulation making their way through the General Assembly this year.Much more at the link.
Most only affect one jurisdiction, like a bill for a dance hall license in Prince George's County, or even parts of a jurisdiction, such as the closing hours for bars in downtown Baltimore and the percentage of food restaurants with liquor licenses can sell in Baltimore's upscale Harbor East.
"It's a very complicated area," said Sen. George Della, a Baltimore Democrat. "There are only a few people that understand the law."
Della is one of them and gets phone calls from other attorneys to ask him to explain the process. Half the city's 1600 liquor licenses are in his district, which covers some of the oldest parts of south and east Baltimore.
This year he has a bill to lower from 65 percent to 60 percent the percentage of food that eateries in certain precincts of the revitalized southeastern neighborhoods must sell to keep their licenses. The law was set up "to prevent them from turning into these mega bars," Della said. This could put the neighborhood taverns peppering scores of street corners out of business. But in the current economy, people are spending less and restaurants are hurting, so Della says the change could give eateries more flexibility.
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