Regulations on bar owners eased in stack of bills signed into North Carolina law

By Theresa Opeka

Raleigh, NC – N.C. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed 11 bills into law Thursday, the closely-watched state budget was not one of them.

Among those measures that are now law is H.B. 768, the 2022 ABC Omnibus. It is designed to decrease regulations on bar owners and expand the freedom of alcohol transportation and sales. The House gave final passage to the bill on June 29 by a vote of 100-9.

photo by Gonzalo Remy

North Carolina is one of 17 states where liquor sales are still controlled by the government. The North Carolina Bar Owners Association (NCBOA) has pushed for these reforms in the past and a few of their key points are included in the bill. 

The most notable is the definition of a Private Bar. Under the current law, a private bar is an establishment that is primarily engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages and that does not serve prepared food. H.B. 768 eliminates the $1 membership requirement for people at private bars that the NCBOA said is, “rooted in racist beginnings designed to legally discriminate against people of color,” but also can be burdensome to bar owners in general. 

A transition period for owners of stores with ABC permits is being created under the new bill. Owners will now have 60 days to apply for new permits after a change of management.

“One of our former county commissioners had a convenience store, and he passed away. As soon as he passed away, the ABC permits were surrendered to the ABC commission,” N.C. Rep. Timothy D. Moffitt, primary sponsor of the bill, told Carolina Journal, “So the convenience store was unable to sell the alcohol they had, lottery tickets, or anything related to the ABC permits. What we’re doing is creating a landing area where these businesses can continue to operate during the transition period.”

He also signed H.B. 211. It is a technical corrections bill that is following behind H.B. 768 to clarify and expand the areas where customers of restaurants or bars that sell alcoholic beverages can openly enjoy their drinks.

A measure prohibiting hospitals from charging sexual assault victims for rape kits is also law with Cooper’s signature to H.B. 674.

“Victims of sexual assault deserve access to a rape kit without being further victimized by being charged for it,” he said in a statement. “This new law will also strengthen the state’s DNA database used to catch criminals by including domestic violence and assault crimes.”

H.B. 615, Jordan’s Law was signed by the governor as well, giving judges the authority to renew a domestic violence protective order during the time between the order’s expiration date and an upcoming court hearing.

Cooper also signed other bills into law including, H.B. 219, Amend Environmental Laws, S.B. 388, Qualifying Farmer Zoo Sales Tax Exemption, S.B.496, DOI Omnibus Bill, H.B. 607, Various Court Changes, S.B. 470, ABC Technical and Other Changes, H.B. 791, Lic. Counselors Compact/DHHS Contracting, and S.B. 265, Bond Info Transparency/LGC Toolkit II.

Brayden Marsh contributed to this article.