Liquor license changes are promising

Print Article

Thirteen years ago, we wrote an editorial that began, “Montana has a problem with the way it distributes liquor licenses.” Last week, the state Legislature took a big step toward solving that problem.

Actually, there have been several problems with the state’s lottery system for distributing liquor licenses. Because there were only a limited number of licenses available for each locality, it meant that the value of an existing liquor license won through the lottery was instantly inflated because of its value on the open market to developers eager to open bars and restaurants. That was an incentive for people to apply for a liquor license just so they could sell it later to the highest bidder.

Now, through a change in the law approved during the recent special session, the state will be able to pocket some of that extra revenue because licenses will now be available through an auction process rather than a simple lottery. If a big chain restaurant wants to build a store in Kalispell, they will now have a chance to bid for the liquor license directly from the state at what the chain considers a fair market value instead of hoping to win a lottery or finding a private seller. It should be a much more efficient system, and will benefit the state rather than private investors.

The other big change approved was drawing a line between localities in close proximity so that liquor licenses will no longer be shared across boundary lines. This will be a major benefit to Columbia Falls, for instance, which shared its liquor license pool with Whitefish. The practical effect of that was seeing liquor licenses migrate from Columbia Falls to the more upscale Whitefish market. Now Columbia Falls will score five new liquor licenses of various types over the next several years, which could help development in the city.

Probably still not a perfect system, but a significant improvement from what we have learned so far.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Good programs needs reliable funding

July 15, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The afterschool programs in Bigfork, Deer Park, Kila and Marion learned a hard lesson recently when they found out they had lost the federal grant money that had allowed the programs to operate for t...

Comments

Read More

Hospital needs a new approach

July 08, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake It was just two weeks ago when the Inter Lake published an editorial calling for greater financial transparency at Kalispell Regional Healthcare. That conclusion followed revelations that the hospit...

Comments

Read More

Court’s union ruling is common sense

July 01, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Public-sector unions were dealt a serious blow by the Supreme Court last week when the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that repr...

Comments

Read More

Middle-schoolers make a difference

June 29, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Daily Inter Lake We’re beyond impressed with the three sixth-grade girls at Kalispell Middle School who developed an app — a computer application that can be downloaded to mobile devices — aimed at preventing suicide...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2018 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X