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New laws prompt Anne Arundel County liquor board overhaul, boosts resiliency funding and changes abandoned boat rules

An overhaul for Anne Arundel County Liquor Board, which passed quietly among state lawmakers during the coronavirus-shortened session, begins to take shape Wednesday as several bills become law. Among them, new types of licenses for florists that sell gift-baskets with alcohol, yacht clubs, and increased salaries for inspectors.

The bills were enacted in early May, after Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a handful of controversial bills, and let the rest passed by both chambers go into law without his signature. They are among others becoming law Wednesday including a funding structure that will allow jurisdictions across the state to pursue resiliency projects to protect against the effects of climate change, and a bill that changes how abandoned boats are handled in Maryland’s waters.

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Sen. Pamela Beidle, D-Linthicum, led the bipartisan charge for liquor board reform, which she says now was largely successful, though all the bills the delegation introduced did not pass. Some changes, she said, were requested by the board. Other changes will benefit other parts of the communities, like industries that previously struggled to get liquor licenses in the county.

Starting Wednesday, stores that sell and deliver gift baskets will be able to apply for liquor licenses to include alcohol in gift baskets with precautions to ensure they are being delivered to a person of legal drinking age. Another new law will establish a new liquor license for small yacht clubs so they can sell beer, wine and liquor to members and guests for on premises consumption.

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The liquor board is not currently issuing new licenses, due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a voicemail recording message. It is unclear when they will begin processing now applications, but they are still processing renewals remotely, according to the message.

Other new laws change the compensation for board staff and inspectors. Part-time inspectors will receive a raise of $1,000 to their varying rates of compensation, and the board will be required to employ a full-time executive director, a full-time administrator and two full-time secretaries. Neither board members nor staff could be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Another law changes the requirement for public posting of new liquor license applications. Instead of being required to post these in the newspaper, the new law will only require they be posted online 10 days prior to the hearing date.

Though it does not take effect just yet, Beidle said she is particularly proud of the bills which move the board towards transparency, including a law that will take effect in October requiring the Board of License Commissioners to post an agenda online before every meeting, livestream the meeting, and post minutes online within one month after the meeting.

Resiliency authority

A new law which will allow jurisdictions across the state to create funding structures to fight climate change will also take effect Wednesday. The law, which was an effort of Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Annapolis, will allow the city of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County to partner to tackle the effects of climate change on City Dock.

The resiliency authorities will be able to issue and sell state or local bonds to fund resilience infrastructure projects that protect communities against the effects of climate change.

Abandoned boats

The definition of an abandoned vessel is changing Wednesday. This bill was a response to boats abandoned in Annapolis last summer, and changes the time a boat must be left for it to be abandoned from 90 days to 60 days on private property, or more than 30 days on public property, or if it is found to be a hazard or in condition of disrepair. It also allows the Department of Natural Resources Police to take the boat into custody without notifying the owner if it poses certain hazards and only requires police notify the owner within 15 days of taking it into custody.

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