'Save the Alaska State Fair Act' aimed at liquor license fix
A bill dubbed the "Save the Alaska State Fair Act" caught the attention of the state Senate Finance Committee on Friday.
Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, is behind SB16. He says a recent state crackdown on alcohol licenses puts several long-time events at risk, including the State Fair.
The fair had been operating under a recreational site license since the early 1980s, but in December the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board decided not to renew it, saying that the license did not appear to be used as intended by state law.
SB16 would create three new license types to allow the fair, as well as concerts, performance arts events, and skiing and snowboarding activities, to sell alcohol.
“All of them are licenses that were operating as licenses or through regulation," Micciche said. "We are not creating new businesses under this code.”
The State Fair's general manager, Jermone Hertel, testified Friday that without an alcohol license the fair would struggle to thrive.
Last month the ABC Board voted to extend the fair’s license for two years, but Hertel says that’s not good enough.
“With the more strict interpretation of the statute, they approved it with reservation, meaning that we would be up against the same issue in two years, so it is still very, very important that SB 16 be passed,” Hertel said.
The committee also heard testimony Friday from the operators of the Chickenstock Music Festival in Chicken, who urged lawmakers to amend the bill to include small festivals as well.
The committee didn't make any decisions Friday, and plans to discuss SB16 again early next week.
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