- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A group representing Wyoming cities is asking state regulators to overhaul Wyoming’s liquor licensing system.

The Wyoming Association of Municipalities is asking the state to remove population-based caps on liquor licenses and to allow the market to dictate how many bars a city can support, The Casper Star-Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/2eeNdrT ). “Wyoming has progressed in so many different ways; however, liquor laws have not kept pace,” the report said.

The recommendations were included in a larger report on municipal finances released last week. The report’s goal is to offer suggestions for how the Wyoming Legislature can help local governments during the economic downturn. It was presented on Monday to the Legislative Appropriations Committee in Casper.

The report argues that as tourism, leisure and the service industry become a larger part of Wyoming’s economy, liquor licenses being more widely available will help local governments generate more revenue.

Shelley Simonton, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, said the association is eager to speak to bar owners and liquor distributors, many of whom oppose a significant overhaul of the license regulations, about the proposed changes.

“We want to find out where the middle ground is and then move from there,” Simonton said. “These are rocks we turned over … we’re throwing some things against the wall and seeing what sticks.”

The Wyoming State Liquor Association and other supporters of the existing system argue that removing the population cap would hurt current license owners and lead to market saturation.

Instead, the State Liquor Association has suggested legislation to stop the “parking” liquor licenses, or holding them without operating a bar or liquor store.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com



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