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Save the Alaska State Fair Act’ Passes Senate

Apr 9, 2019 | Government, News, Retail, Small Business

JUNEAU—The Alaska Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 16 to clarify irregularities detrimental to small businesses in the state’s alcohol license laws.

In 2017, the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board began to crack down on alcohol licenses they deemed to be operating contrary to state law, placing at risk several long-time licenses important to the Alaska public. One of those license types issued under the recreational site category is the license held by the Alaska State Fair, which has been operating under the recreational site license since 1981. Others include other regional state fairs, ski areas, bowling alleys, and tourist operations.

The common-sense bill does not add new operators. However, the bill clarifies existing licensees as being appropriate for how they had used their recreational licenses in the past. SB 16, also known as the “Save the Alaska State Fair Act,” expands license types to specifically allow alcohol service in several areas where the ABC Board had recently denied renewal.

“The spirit of this bill is about supporting small businesses and existing high-quality operators,” said Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, the bill’s sponsor. “Part of what funds the state fair and keeps ticket prices affordable are alcohol sales, which also help fund fair entertainment and great youth organizations like 4-H. SB 16 will ensure Alaskans can continue to enjoy the state fair, as they have for nearly 40 years. This bill is part of a larger effort to modernize and reform our state’s alcohol laws, but this specific issue required immediate action to assist small, responsibly-operated businesses in their continued operation.”

Other than formalizing previously-existing licenses into statute, the bill increases the number of special events a fraternal/patriotic organization can have per year, grandfathers recreational site licenses that were valid on December 31, 2018, and allows surety bond relief to responsible operators (paid taxes/filed timely for 3 calendar years).

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The Marx Bros. Café

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Jack Amon and Richard “Van” Hale opened the doors of the Marx Bros. Café on October 18, 1979; however, the two had already been partners in cuisine for some time, having created the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday, a weekly evening of food and wine. It was actually the end of the weekly event that spurred the name of the restaurant: hours after its final service, Amon and Hale were hauling equipment and furnishings out of their old location and to their now-iconic building on Third Street, all while managing arguments about equipment ownership, a visit from the police, and quite a bit of wine. “If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘A Night at the Opera” starring the Marx Brothers, that’s what it was like,” Hale explains.

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