Authorizing grocery and convenience stores to sell liquor: The NH Grocers Association is pushing for legislation to allow them to sell liquor alongside beer and wine. The House Commerce Committee will hear the bill on Tuesday, February 7. It could be headed for a rough time, though. Looking at what happened in Maine, many are worried that it could increase prices and lead to the full privatization of liquor sales.
Study of food service regulation: Last month the House gave initial approval to a bill that would establish a legislative study committee to look at how food service establishments are regulated in New Hampshire. The Committee would be charged with determining if there is a minimal level of food service that may be conducted without regulation. In addition, the committee would be directed to consider different levels of regulation for food service establishments of different sizes. This would be an interesting discussion, and one certainly that NHLRA will participate in if such a committee does in fact get established. The bill will be voted out of the House Finance Committee later this month.
Keno in New Hampshire? On Thursday, February 9 the House Ways & Means Committee will hear two bills that would authorize keno in New Hampshire. The game is run by the State Lottery in neighboring Massachusetts. Winning numbers are drawn approximately every four minutes. Bills being considered in the New Hampshire Legislature would authorize the NH Lottery to issue keno licenses to commercial premises. One bill would set the annual license fee at $3000, while the other would set it at $250. This is the first time in recent memory that the issue has come up in New Hampshire. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the bills will receive.
Drinking games at licensed establishments: Dover "Youth to Youth", an after-school drug and alcohol prevention program, is pushing legislation to prohibit drinking games from being played at licensed establishments. Licensees would be fined $300 for a first offense and $600 for a second offense of allowing such games to be played on their premises. The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on the bill later this month. Liquor Enforcement Chief Eddie Edwards told the Committee at a hearing last month that he feels the bill is unnecessary. He believes he already has the authority in the law to take action against a licensee that does not stop someone over-consuming alcohol.x