Senate passes Schoesler bill helping restaurants, taverns with liquor licenses

A bill prime-sponsored by 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler that aims to help restaurants, taverns and other establishments navigate the state’s permitting process was approved 47-2 by the Senate yesterday.

Under Senate Bill 5291, applications for liquor licenses or license renewals would be automatically approved if the state Liquor and Cannabis Board fails to issue a decision within 45 days of the application date.

Schoesler introduced the bill after hearing about the trouble that three small businesses in the 9th District – Sonny’s Tavern and Grill in Washtucna, and Mi Jalisco and the Ritzville Golf Course Café in Ritzville – experienced while trying to receive a liquor license from the state.

“I watched two small, minority-owned businesses struggle for three to eight months for a simple liquor license,” Schoesler told other senators prior to the vote on SB 5291. “Imagine, all you want to do is move your Mexican restaurant from one side of the community to the other. They’ve never done anything wrong, great people. Eight months to get their license.

“With this bill, we can ensure permitting. Imagine you’re opening a restaurant and bar. You’re moving to a better location. You have to have certainty to order food, hire people, pay them, all these things. This bill simply makes it easier to permit a small business.”

Schoesler’s floor speech on SB 5291 may be viewed here.

The proposal would allow the LCB an additional 30 days to issue a decision on an application if it determines good cause for the extra time exists and issues a temporary license during the extended time period.

SB 5291 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.