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BAR RESCUE: Rep. Moffitt files bill to rescind penalties

State Rep. Tim Moffitt State Rep. Tim Moffitt

State Rep. Tim Moffitt stepped in on Wednesday to help bar owners who had their ABC licenses revoked because of overdue fees during pandemic restrictions that had forced the businesses to close altogether or greatly reduce their hours and capacity.

The bill Moffitt filed Wednesday is in response to news that many bar owners had their liquor permits revoked unexpectedly by the ABC Commission due to delinquent fees, the legislator said in a news release. The bill clarifies an existing emergency relief law passed in 2020 to allow bar owners to defer their permit fees until their business is operating at full capacity.

“It’s an honor to file this bill on behalf of struggling bar owners across North Carolina,” Moffitt said. “This bill will provide desperately needed relief to private bars who are fighting to stay afloat during a pandemic that has drastically limited their ability to conduct business. In the meantime, I’m happy to say I have an agreement in principle with ABC Chairman Guy to reinstate liquor permits that were erroneously revoked and pause revocations until 90 days after Gov. Cooper’s emergency orders expire.”
In response to health and public safety concerns from the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 on March 17 prohibiting North Carolina’s more than 19,504 restaurants and bars from offering any indoor accommodations. The order included 6,000 bars in the state. Since then, the Cooper administration gradually allowed bars to reopen at limited capacity in accordance with social distancing guidelines. To provide financial relief to the establishments, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing ABC permittees to defer their permit fees for 90 days, a period which would begin on the date the Cooper signs an additional executive order rescinding the prohibition on those permittees' operations. Despite that language, on Jan. 4, the ABC Commission revoked the liquor permits of numerous bars across North Carolina on account of nonpayment of fees. Moffitt spoke with Chairman Guy of the ABC Commission and reached an agreement to reinstate licenses revoked in error and defer fee payments until 90 days after bars are able to reopen at full capacity, Moffitt's office said.