Liquor store tast­ings, E-ZPass top county’s 2017 leg­isla­tive wishes

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ELKTON

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County pack­age liquor store own­ers are be­hind pro­posed leg­is­la­tion for con­sid­er­a­tion in 2017 that would al­low county liquor stores to host beer, wine and liquor tast­ings.

Ce­cil County Chief Liquor Board In­spec­tor Earl Brad­ford re­quested the pro­posed bill Fri­day dur­ing a meet­ing in Elkton with state law­mak­ers who rep­re­sent Ce­cil County. It was part of the an­nual meet­ing with the county del­e­ga­tion to talk about pri­or­i­ties and leg­isla­tive re­quests for the 2017 Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion that starts Jan. 11.

At­tor­ney Robert Jones, rep­re­sent­ing sev­eral Class A (off-sale only) liquor li­censees, told the Ce­cil County Board of Li­cense Com­mis­sion­ers in late June that liquor store own­ers say this would boost sales for them. The liquor board agreed and drafted a bill that is sim­i­lar to one adopted by Har­ford County.

“We had no op­po­si­tion and plenty of sup­port for this,” Brad­ford said.

The bill would es­tab­lish a beer, wine and liquor tast­ing li­cense in Ce­cil County that could be is­sued to the holder of a Class A or Class B beer, wine and liquor li­cense. It would al­low for on-premise con­sump­tion of beer, wine and liquor for tast­ing for a max­i­mum of any 26 days in a li­cens­ing pe­riod, any 52 days in a li­cens­ing pe­riod or an en­tire li­cens­ing pe­riod.

If a li­cense holder is is­sued a tast­ing li­cense for 26 or 52 days, they must no­tify the liquor board at least seven days prior to use. In ad­di­tion, cus­tomers are lim­ited to 1-ounce tast­ings of beer or wine and half-ounce tast­ings of liquor.

Li­cense fees are $125 for a 26 day li­cense, $200 for a 52-day li­cense and $400 for a oneyear li­cense.

“This type of li­cense al­ready ex­ists in 10 coun­ties in Maryland,” Brad­ford said.

The del­e­ga­tion said they would look into sub­mit­ting it as a statewide bill.

County and state of­fi­cials also agreed to rein­tro­duce a bill that would al­low the spe­cial com­muter Hatem Bridge E-ZPass transpon­der to be ac­cepted on the Ty­d­ings (In­ter­state 95) Bridge dur­ing rush hour hours only, although state of­fi­cials told them ear­lier Fri­day that the po­ten­tial loss of rev­enue would be an is­sue for bond­hold­ers.

“I’ve been work­ing on this for a long time and it still keeps com­ing back to the bond­holder is­sue,” County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore said. “I’m not sure what the an­swers are, but we can’t give up — maybe we should es­tab­lish another work group.”

Some of the law­mak­ers fa­vored push­ing for the re­lo­ca­tion of the tolls closer to the Delaware bor­der again.

“That way, they wouldn’t lose any rev­enue,” Coun­cil­man Ge­orge Patchell said.

Another re­quest that came from Reg­is­ter of the Wills Michael Daw­son and Judge of the Or­phans Court Car­olyn Crouch was a re­work­ing of a bill from last year that passed the House, but died in a Se­nate com­mit­tee.

The bill asks for an in­crease in travel al­lowance for the Or­phans Court from $780 to $1,600, ef­fec­tive Dec. 3, 2018. It also seeks pay of $7,500 in fis­cal year 2017 and $8,750 in fis­cal year 2018 and each sub­se­quent year, to be paid quar­terly by the county.

It also seeks to add Ce­cil County to a sub­sec­tion of the law that al­lows Wi­comico County to make an Or­phans Court judge who has com­pleted at least 12 years in of­fice to be el­i­gi­ble for a pen­sion. But, there was dis­cus­sion about ex­empt­ing Or­phans Court judges from the manda­tory state re­tire­ment sys­tem be­cause they don’t work 500 hours per year. The pro­posal is not fi­nal yet.

County of­fi­cials also agreed to sup­port four is­sues that are pri­or­i­ties of Maryland As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties for the 2017 ses­sion. They in­clude con­tin­u­ing to re­gain lost county rev­enue di­verted to the state from the high­way user rev­enue funds, strong state fund­ing for school con­struc­tion, bal­anced re­lease of po­lice body cam­era video and sup­port for lo­cal zon­ing con­trol for new en­ergy fa­cil­i­ties that use so­lar power. For years, the state has pre­empt­ing lo­cal zon­ing for large-scale power plants, but re­cent ac­tions ap­pear to con­sider any en­ergy gen­er­a­tion fa­cil­ity, re­gard­less of size.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ce­cil County of­fi­cials are re­quest­ing state leg­is­la­tion next year on a va­ri­ety of is­sues, in­clud­ing al­low­ing pack­age liquor stores to hold tast­ings on their premises.

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