Licensees, attorneys, and community reps to rewrite Liquor Board rules

Written by on June 11, 2014 in Neighborhood News - No comments

The Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners’ committee to draft new rules and regulations—to govern its administrative operations and hearings—will have its first meeting this summer.

The committee, made up of equal parts attorneys, community representatives, and liquor licensees, will convene in late June or early July and meet weekly for about 10 weeks, said Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, the board’s new executive secretary, who will head the committee.

The board’s rules and regulations have not been rewritten since 1998, so a revision is long overdue, Bailey-Hedgepeth said. I

In addition, new state legislation pertaining to the Baltimore City Liquor Board has mandated that the board review its regulations by or before Oct. 31, 2015, and at least once every five years thereafter.

Bailey-Hedgepeth said the idea for the committee came not from her but from the current two-member board,which consists of acting chair Elizabeth Smith and commissioner Harvey Jones, as well as former board chair Stephan Fogleman, now an Orphans Court judge.

Smith said: “Historically, and I don’t mean recently, the agency’s administrative arm has not always been the most open and communicative, and because of this, the rules sometimes caused more problems than they helped.”

Smith added that the board wants to build relationships with communities throughout the city.

“The relationship-building process begins by defining how we operate,” she said.

The rewrite committee will have 15-18 members, divided equally among community representatives, liquor licensees, and attorneys (including city attorneys) with various specialties including liquor issues.

The committee members were chosen based on their applications and resumes. The board issued a press release about the committee in mid-May and the deadline to apply was June 9.

Requirements included being a registered voter over the age of 18 and having a business or residence in Baltimore City; however the release stated that preference would be given to those who had experience with the Liquor Board.

“Members of the community have different perspectives than agency staff, and by weighing in on the rules, the committee will give a more holistic approach to how the agency will operate,” said commissioner Harvey Jones.

Bailey-Hedgepeth said the committee will meet weekly on Thursdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m., and have a total of 10-11 meetings, concluding by Sept. 25, so that a report can be prepared for the board by Oct. 2.

The meetings will be open to the public for observation purposes Bailey-Hedgepeth noted.

She acknowledged that the board is working on improving its processes in general, but she wants to hear the specific concerns of the three constituencies represented on the committee: the licensees, community members, and attorneys.

Bailey-Hedgepeth said that the current rules and regulations will be made available online in pdf form in English, Spanish and Korean for the public’s review, and she welcomes comments and questions regarding the rules and regulations revision process.

“The public can call or email me,” she said.

Notes from the rewrite committee meetings will be available to the public, she added.

Smith said that a press release announcing the members of the rules and regulations rewrite committee will be released shortly.

Patrick Lundberg, a member of the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association who follows liquor issues in his community, applied to be a member.

“As someone who understands community priorities in relation to liquor-related issues in southeast Baltimore, I hope to be able to contribute to the rules and regulations committee to optimize the liquor licensing process, and make it as accountable, transparent, and efficient as possible,” Lundberg said.

“…Selling alcohol in Baltimore City is a privilege to be earned, and I hope to work towards a licensing process that ensures licensees and the Liquor Board itself understand the widespread implications liquor sales can have upon the health, safety, and well-being of our communities.”

by Danielle Sweeney

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