In passing a new law this past session, South Carolina lawmakers may have accidentally banned businesses and individuals from applying for permits to serve beer and wine at special events.
A Department of Revenue memo says the law, which was intended to make it easier for nonprofits to serve alcohol for fundraisers, does not contain any wording that allows for individuals and businesses to do the same. In fact, the agency says the law’s wording allows only federally recognized nonprofits (those listed as 501(c) organizations) and political parties to apply for the permit.
That means that, starting in January, businesses that organize special events will no longer be able to apply for permits to serve alcohol. South Carolina Hospitality Association president Tom Sponseller says it was an unintended mistake by the Legislature.
Somehow the language got taken out of the law… from my experience working with the legislature, that was not the intent.
Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens) proposed the law last year to make it easier for nonprofits to organize fundraising events. Criminal background checks are required for any alcohol permits, and the previous law required checks for each new event. Sponseller says the new law was intended to save money.
The intent was to allow groups like Ducks Unlimited and the National Turkey Federation, that do a lot of dinners to raise money for their charity… (to) be able to get more under the single applications. It would save them a little bit of money. More importantly, it would save the state money, because every time they got one, the state would have to do a criminal background check.
The new law would allow a single background check to cover a group for two years.
Pitts could not be reached for comment. Lawmakers say they don’t know how existing language for individuals and businesses was removed.
Since the Legislature does not meet until after the new rules take effect on January 1, Sponseller says businesses with have to temporarily cope. He says several may work with nonprofit groups so they can still receive a permit for any events they host.
Sponseller says he expects the Legislature to quickly fix the wording once the next session begins.
Our understanding is it was an error. Because it will impact several businesses and individuals and state revenue, the legislature (will) jump on it real quick.
The law was not controversial when it passed in June. No house members voted against it.