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Proposed Arizona Bill Would Ease Access To Coveted Wine And Beer Licenses

State lawmakers want to make it easier for small businesses to get a beer and wine liquor license in non-traditional places.

Right now, there is a strict limit on the number of Series 7 liquor licenses allowed in each county.

Currently, Arizona law allows one license for every 10,000 residents in each county. House Bill 2337 would cut that requirement in half, at least for the next five years.

Liquor industry lobbyist Nicholas Guttilla said the law is fine as it is, if the state sticks to only issuing the licenses to restaurants and bars serving only beer and wine. But, a recent trend is challenging the number of licenses available.

“A lot of restaurants are using up the 7’s,” Guttilla said. The short supply is in part because, “They’re allowing barbershops and salons to serve beer and wine.”

Quotas have existed in the liquor industry for years to allow restaurant opportunities, while protecting neighborhoods.

"You don't want proliferation,'' said Don Isaacson of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, representing retailers. "But you want enough to meet demand."

The provision, buried in the wide-ranging legislative bill, is on its way to the full Senate today.

If the bill becomes law, its effect would depend on how quickly each county is growing.