Pica promises bill to restore liquor board power Appeals court cut city body's authority

November 16, 1996|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

State Sen. John A. Pica Jr. promised yesterday to introduce legislation that would expand the power of the Baltimore liquor board, which had its authority cut this week by Maryland's highest court.

"We are having legislation drafted to give the liquor board broad powers to place restrictions on liquor licenses," said Pica, who chairs the city's Senate delegation. "Such legislation is necessary to ensure that the board has the power to effectively regulate liquor licenses and to protect the public."

The Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the city liquor board cannot restrict a tavern's hours or the type of entertainment it offers once a license has been issued. Such restrictions, a unanimous court held, can only be placed on liquor license holders as conditions for granting or transferring a license.

Pica said he would introduce his legislation as an emergency bill in January, at the opening of the next legislative session. If it is passed by a three-fifths majority of the General Assembly, the law would go into effect immediately.

Similar legislation was introduced during the last legislative session by Sen. George W. Della, a senior senator from South Baltimore. He withdrew the measure, saying he did not want to interfere with the case that was pending in the Court of Appeals.

George G. Brown, chairman of the city liquor board, said he knew nothing about Pica's proposed legislation and could not comment on it.

"This legislation is definitely needed," said Mary Lou Kline, head of a citywide coalition of residents that works for better rules and regulations for liquor establishments. "If a bar cannot control their clientele, the liquor board should have the authority to close them down early so that neighbors are not woken up at 2 a.m."

Pub Date: 11/16/96

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