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D'oh! South Carolina Inadvertently Bans Beer And Wine Permits

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Newscom / RICHARD B. LEVINE

The bill was designed to make it easier for nonprofit organizations to obtain temporary beer and wine permits, including multiple permits under one application. Traditionally, an organization would have to obtain a new permit -- and also submit to a new background check -- for each individual event, Tom Sponseller, head of the South Carolina Hospitality Association, told TPM.

The new law helps streamline that process -- but because of the way it's worded, it also (unintentionally) limits the scope of the law regulating beer and wine permits to apply only to nonprofits and political groups.

As the Free-Times explains:

Because of that law, starting in January, the Department of Revenue will only grant special-event permits to serve beer and wine to nonprofit organizations and political parties. They will stop issuing permits to businesses and individuals -- promoters, caterers and other event organizers, for example -- who must obtain licenses every time they want to serve beer and wine in a location without a permanent beer and wine license.

"Somebody screwed up," says Tom Sponseller, head of the South Carolina Hospitality Association.

Republican state House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham told the Free-Times that officials are now trying to figure out what exactly happened.

"There was not a hoopla on the floor about it," Bingham told the Free-Times. "Usually when there's something controversial, we hear about it."

But lawmakers' hands are tied until the next legislative session, which begins January 11. In the meantime, Sponseller said, a prominent beer festival is scheduled in Columbia, and the event organizers won't be able to obtain a permit unless they find a nonprofit to partner with.

"We don't want this to harm some of the great events this state has to attract visitors," he said. "Hopefully the legislature will fix this as soon as they come back."

Bingham told TPM the mistake was a result of an error made in the bill drafting process.

"No one asked for (the bill) to be changed, no one intended it to be changed," Bingham said. "I've been told by members of the judiciary committee that the language will be reverted in January."

Pitts did not respond to TPM's request for comment.

About The Author

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David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.