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Delegation withdraws alcohol bill

February 08, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - One week after agreeing to try to tighten alcohol-serving requirements, Washington County's state lawmakers decided to kill their own bill.

The about-face Wednesday came one week after Robert L. Everhart, the chairman of the county's liquor board, asked for tougher standards.

The bill Everhart requested would have ordered everyone in Washington County who serves alcohol to go through a certification process, learning such things as how to spot intoxication and how to check identification.

Currently, in Washington County, at least one person who has received the certification has to be on the premises as alcohol is served.

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Everhart told the delegation last week that at least 90 percent of servers in the county - including wait staff, bartenders and liquor store clerks - are certified.

During an interview after the meeting, he said the figure probably is closer to 99 percent.

The delegation unanimously approved Everhart's request to file a bill.

On Wednesday, Lou Thomas, a board member of the county's restaurant association, disputed Everhart's estimate.

Thomas, who owns The Yellow House, a Boonsboro-area bar, said that when he called around and surveyed businesses, he found that about 40 percent of the servers are certified.

Thomas said the requirement to certify everyone would be a burden, especially for establishments with eight or 10 servers working at a time.

During a phone interview, Thomas said he teaches certification classes. Each class lasts four hours and costs $40 to $75, he said.

Thomas told the delegation that occasional police stings to see if underaged people are served used to have high failure rates in Washington County, but now most businesses are careful and comply.

Based on Thomas' comments Wednesday, the delegation unanimously decided not to file the bill that Everhart requested.

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