The Alabama House of Representatives earlier this week passed legislation introduced by Rep. Craig Ford (I-Gadsden) that would establish a more simplified, free and consolidated process for non-profit entities to apply for a special events license.
“Under current law, it can take up to six months for a charitable organization such as the American Heart Association to receive a license to serve alcohol at its events,” said Ford. “This bill will hopefully cut that time down to just two or three days by cutting out some of the red tape and making the process more efficient.”
The bill does not change the current fees that organizations must pay before they can receive the license, but it makes the application and approval process easier for both the organizations seeking the license and the Alabama Beverage Control Board that regulates all alcohol sales in the state and approves event license requests.
Ford said he sponsored the legislation after he was approached by representatives from the Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County, Downtown Gadsden, Inc., and numerous charitable organizations.
“This bill will greatly simplify the efforts of nonprofits as they endeavor to raise much needed funds for their mission,” said chamber president Heather New. “It was an honor to have the opportunity to work directly with the Licensing and Compliance Division of the ABC Board to develop a process that will work for both their field offices and the state’s nonprofits. We desperately need this bill to be moved quickly through the senate, as well.”
New noted that with the end of the legislative session quickly drawing to a close, the bill is in danger of dying in the senate without the same direct attention as was given by Ford.
“I know several nonprofit leaders throughout the state have reached out to their respective senators, and we are hopeful that someone will step up to champion the effort in that chamber,” she said.
Never Surrender, an organization that provides free mammograms for men and women who cannot afford them, as well as support and services for breast cancer patients, used to host an annual event that raised around $30,000. But the time, cost and effort of having to license the event caused Never Surrender to cancel and find other ways to raise money for its services.
Specifically, the Ford-sponsored bill would do the following:
* Allow for a non-profit director to be able to make a full application through a limited power of attorney from the non-profit board, eliminating the need to collect copies of birth certificates, passports, star drivers license, etc. from multiple board members.
* Allow for a special permit applicable only to non-profits, eliminating extensive and confusing questions and procedures that apply specifically to retail businesses
* Greatly reduce unnecessary paperwork and travel for non-profits and simplify and clarify the process for all ABC field offices.
* Eliminate the need for a municipal resolution for approval and instead will only require verification that the municipality has been notified in writing of the special event, thereby reducing the length of time required to acquire a permit.
* Clarify old language in the existing code that restricts craft beer manufacturers to the donation of two kegs and instead outlines limits in terms of can or bottle cases, thereby simplifying donation methods and ease of service from the non-profit of the donated product.
The bill does not increase access to alcohol, alcohol consumption or sales but instead allows a simplified process to allow non-profits to maintain responsible control of service of alcoholic beverages at special events.
The bill does not change the ability or method of manufacturers or distributors to donate products to non-profits.
The bill serves to simplify and clarify the process and procedures that are currently cumbersome and burdensome for both non-profits and the ABC Board.
Craig Ford is an Independent who represents Gadsden and Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives. He served as the House Minority Leader from 2010-2016. He is currently running for the State Senate in Senate District 10, which includes all of Etowah and Cherokee Counties and a portion of DeKalb County.