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September 3, 2015
Sacramento, CA
Sting Targets Unlicensed Contractors In Sacramento
http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/

Eleven unlicensed contractors have been netted in a Natomas-area sting, the Contractors State Licensing Board said Tuesday.

Among the suspects are two who didn’t let past contracting violations stop them from continuing to violate state contracting laws, the CSLB says.

CSLB stages sting operations year-round to crack down on unlicensed contracting, which it says feeds a multi-billion-dollar underground economy in California, and creates unfair business competition for licensed, law-abiding contractors.

Using a list of suspected unlicensed contractors developed mostly from online ads, local pamphlets, and a newspaper, investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for various home improvement projects that included fencing, painting, a concrete driveway, and tankless water heater installation.

The bids received by investigators averaged about $2,300, with a high bid of $4,000. Any project that is $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be performed by a state-licensed contractor in California.

Penalties for first-time unlicensed contracting convictions include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Two men cited at the Sacramento sting were no strangers to CSLB. One had been caught in a 2012 sting operation in El Dorado County and was given a probation term and a fine, and had been previously denied a contractor license. He also is a registered sex offender. The other man, on probation for a 2014 unlicensed contracting conviction, tried to pass off a contractor license that did not belong to him.

“Time after time, the stings we conduct show that property owners need to be very careful about who they’re allowing in and around their home and family,” says CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson.

All suspects were issued a notice to appear in Sacramento County Superior Court for contracting without a license. Ten of the 11 were cited for illegal advertising. Contracting law requires unlicensed operators to state in all advertising that they are not licensed; the penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=28984 More...

September 2, 2015
Portland, OR
Oregon To Add Up To 17 New Liquor Licenses
http://www.cspnet.com/

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has opened the door for up to 17 retail businesses, including convenience stores, to become liquor outlets in the Portland area.

With only one liquor outlet in the state for every 16,000 residents, the commission wants to add outlets in areas with the most disparity--Portland area counties of Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah--to improve the ratio of stores to residents to about one per 12,000.

“Oregonians have grown more sophisticated and have greater demand for modern, consumer‐friendly shopping and higher levels of convenience than ever before,” said OLCC chairman Rob Patridge. "Through open recruitment, we’re moving forward with a plan that presents a unique opportunity for the commission to increase store density while exploring new and innovative market‐driven business models where customers can purchase spirits in Oregon."

The open recruitment process is open to a variety of different business proposals that could include adding a spirits section inside existing stores, a traditional liquor store or a unique niche business, the commission said. The OLCC’s independent contractors also can apply for additional outlets under the open recruitment process.

“We’re calling on existing liquor agents and business owners to bring forward innovative proposals that showcase the entrepreneurial spirit for which Oregonians are known,” said Patridge.

The process of open recruitment is a new tool OLCC is using to foster liquor outlet proposals. However, the commission will continue to use its traditional evaluation to make decisions about the appointment of agents for each individual outlet.

http://www.cspnet.com/category-news/beverages/articles/oregon-add-17-new-liquor-licenses More...

September 1, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake Bar’s Loss of $50,000 Liquor License Raises Questions About New Law
http://www.sltrib.com/

Problems are surfacing with a year-old state law that allows business owners to buy and sell state alcohol licenses — issues that could cost Utah businesses thousands of dollars.

Take, for instance, Rheda Fouad, who bought a coveted bar license several months ago for $50,000, only to have it revoked Tuesday by the state liquor commission because his new Sugar House bar, The Ruin, was not ready to open within 60 days of the license purchase.

Fouad told the seven-member Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) board that circumstances were out of his control — there were delays in getting a lease with the developer and then planning and building permits from Salt Lake City took longer than expected.

Once the liquor license purchase is final, however, state law says the new business must be operational within 30 days, said Sheila Page, the DABC's legal counsel from the Utah attorney general's office. The liquor commission can grant one, 30-day extension, which the liquor commission did for The Ruin in July.

Yet, the bar "is not anywhere near operational," Page told commissioners. "Your hands are tied and the license must be revoked."

The commission voted 6-1 to take back the license, but decided to hold on to it for a month before giving it to another business that has been on a waiting list.

Typically, businesses that want a club license must apply with the DABC and then wait — sometimes a year or more — until one becomes available through an increase in population or another bar closure. Currently, 12 businesses are waiting for a club license.

Buying a club license from another license holder avoids the wait, but is more costly. The licenses are in high demand because they allow, among other things, the establishments to sell drinks without food and to avoid having to build a 7-foot barrier known as a "Zion Curtain" to shield the mixing and pouring of drinks from minors.

Since the law took effect in July 2014, at least a half-dozen licenses have sold for anywhere from $30,000 to more than $100,000, business owners have told The Salt Lake Tribune.

While not opposed to the revocation, commissioner Neal Berube cast the lone no vote, saying The Ruin's license should be given immediately to one of the businesses on the waiting list.

"It seems like preferential treatment," he said.

While the situation looked dire for Fouad and The Ruin, there may be a reprieve. Chairman John T. Nielsen said that if the bar is in compliance by the commission's next meeting Sept. 29, the bar could be considered for a club license. But Nielsen made no guarantees.

DABC officials have also noted other issues with the law: How much time, if any, should closed businesses be given to sell a license; and the immense amount of legal work that the state requires to make a license sale official.

After the meeting, Nielsen said, it may be time for the Legislature to tweak the law.

"We've had time to see how the law operates and see the problems," he said. "There are some issues to look at."

Under the law, business owners can sell their alcohol licenses whether for the same location or a different premise. However, the license must stay in the county in which it was issued. Before the license transfer is finalized, club owners must prove to the DABC that there are no unpaid creditors or tax debts on the property. They also must pay a $300 license-transfer fee.

The owners of David's Bar and Grill, in West Valley City, were among the first to sell their license. In February, the LaSalle Restaurant Group, which also owns Oasis, Faustina, Kyoto and Caffe Niche restaurants, bought the license for its new Under Current Club in downtown Salt Lake City.

While new business owners probably lack the cash for such deals, the law has helped established business owners, such as Dave Morris of Piper Down in Salt Lake City.

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2875301-155/salt-lake-bars-loss-of-50000 More...

August 31, 2015
Smithton, PA
Smithton Hikes Transient Business License Fees
http://triblive.com/

Smithton Council approved a resolution Monday raising the license fees for transient retail businesses.

Smithton's ordinance defines a transient retail business as “anyone engaging in peddling, soliciting, taking orders either by sample or otherwise, for any goods, wares or merchandise upon any street, alley, sidewalk or public ground, or from house to house.”

Anyone intending to conduct a transient business in Smithton is required to advise the borough and apply for a license. Fees associated with obtaining a license are set by resolution.

The fees were last set in April of 2014 at $100 per day, $200 per month and $500 per year. The new fee schedule, approved unanimously by council, is $500 per day, $2,500 per month and $5,000 per year. Council members Karen Primm and Robert Prah Jr. were absent.

The ordinance describes exceptions which include farmers selling their products; anything that is donated to a charitable goal or philanthropic purpose; the sale of bread and bakery products, meat and meat products, and milk and milk products; children under the age of 18; and insurance agents.

Mayor Christine Tutena advised residents, “If someone comes soliciting to your door, ask to see a license issued by the Borough of Smithton and signed by the mayor.”

The board also was unanimous, although reluctant, in approving payment for updating the MetroAlert software the police department uses.

While a $1,056 payment has already been paid, most members of council expressed consternation over the $2,114 balance.

Forcing council's hand was a letter from PennDOT advising the police department that the PennDOT crash report submissions site will be inaccessible unless the department has migrated to the new software.

Tutena said, “$2,100 is a lot of money for us, but you've got to do it.”

Borough secretary Jackie Faber noted they could opt to pay two installments — $1,000 now and the balance at the end of October. Council approved the two-payment plan.

While council President Dan Barthels was very skeptical, both Tutena and Councilman Fred Foster pushed to try to have the boroughs of Madison and Sutersville, which contract with Smithton for police coverage, pitch in for the software upgrade. Faber agreed to write them a “nice” letter making the request. “It can't hurt to try,” Tutena said.

Also concerning the police department, Chief Glenn Kopp advised council the Charger is still out of commission at the dealership. Apparently, the recent tests produced more codes without pinpointing the cause of the engine malfunction.

While council wrestles with what the next course of action should be, Kopp is investigating municipal leasing through Ford. He said he will have some firm numbers for budget discussions which start in October.

Also, Barthels advised Smithton residents the police department's phone system has been fixed and is working properly.

In other business, council approved reimbursing one-third of the $140 requested by Karen Heltebran for the cost of a continuing education course in accounting required by the state to maintain her position as the borough tax collector. Councilmen Bruce Celapino and Kevin Regotti reasoned that since Heltebran also collects taxes on behalf of the county and the Yough School District, Smithton's share should be one-third.

Faber noted that council is under no obligation to reimburse Heltebran for the cost of the course. Councilman Larry Heltebran abstained from the vote.

Council members will also be acquiring three bids for the replacement of the water supply line that runs from the meter to the newly installed backflow-prevention valve in the borough building. The recent installation revealed the supply pipe is almost entirely plugged with mineral deposits. A piece of the deposits, hard as cement, could break free and flow into the new valve causing irreparable damage, according to the installer.

Outside the borough building, council members will be walking the town to take inventory of which sidewalks need to be repaired. Barthels expects a list to be available at next month's council meeting.

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourwestnewton/8865670-74/council-smithton-borough#axzz3kQbBWkkv More...

August 28, 2015
Elmwood Park, NJ
Elmwood Park Council Waives Liquor License Distance Requirement
http://www.northjersey.com/

The Elmwood Park Council adopted a resolution waiving the 500 foot distance requirement between liquor license locations in the borough.

A Midland Avenue liquor store, M&M Wines and Spirits, owned by Somras, Inc., applied for a waiver to move the business to a new location in the Elmwood Square strip mall on Market Street. According to the business owner, his landlord was increasing the rent by 50 percent which forced him to seek a new location.

Because the Elmwood Square site is less than 500 feet from two stores with liquor licenses, Food Mart across the street and Birchwood Deli and Liquor on Boulevard, the owner had to request a waiver from the borough.

Councilman Robert Colletti objected to allowing a waiver for the business, and said it would be "encroaching on two smaller businesses."

"I have a problem with that because we have two established businesses... that I feel will be affected by the competition," he said.

"This ordinance was established for a reason," Colletti said, referring to the 1968 ordinance that places restrictions on liquor license locations. "I think some of these old traits we have to maintain."

There are currently 23 liquor license locations within the 2.8-square-mile borough. Several of the locations are in close proximity to each other. M&M's original location, for example, was less than 500 feet from American Legion Post 147, which also holds a liquor license.

Borough Clerk Keith Kazmark said that according to his records, no businesses have requested or been granted a waiver since 2007.

According to the state statute, liquor stores must be 200 feet away from a house of worship or school. Nothing prohibits a liquor store from opening up across the street or next door to another business with a liquor license.

Councilman Lou Vuoncino said that the council heard from the other business at a previous work session, but that the overriding issue was the hardship faced by Somras, Inc. and the 50 percent rent increase.

"Not entertaining the waiver would allow a business to die on the vine," Vuoncino said.

He added that the governing body should look into why the borough has not followed the 500-foot restriction ordinance in the past and decide how it should be addressed going forward.

Councilman Joe Dombrowski said he supported the waiver because of "free enterprise." He also questioned why the distance restriction doesn't also apply to nail salons and delis in the borough.

"If you take a look at Market Street, there are three delis within 300 feet of each other. Actually, three are within the same block of stores," he said. "I feel it's unfair to pick on liquor stores."

The resolution passed 5-1 with Colletti casting the only dissenting vote.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/council-waives-liquor-license-distance-requirement-1.1399113 More...

August 26, 2015
Petaluma, CA
Ten Unlicensed Contractors Cited In Petaluma Sting Operation
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/

Ten people suspected of advertising themselves as contractors but lacked licenses were cited in a two-day sting in Petaluma, prosecutors said Monday.

The stings were conducted Aug. 18 and 19 by the Contractors State License Board and the District Attorney’s Office, spokesman Brian Staebell said.

Inspectors called people advertising for painting, landscaping, fencing, wrought iron, concrete or carpentry work. They turned up at a Petaluma house where they received citations.

Their names were not released.

The law requires a license for work exceeding $500. An unlicensed contractor can perform work for less but must disclose the lack of a license.

The penalty for a first-time conviction can include up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4383762-181/ten-unlicensed-contractors-cited-in More...

August 26, 2015
Tucson, AZ
City of Tucson Offering Tax Amnesty Program for Businesses
http://www.kvoa.com/

TUCSON- The City of Tucson is offering business owners an opportunity to submit delinquent sales tax or license fees without penalty, or reduced penalty, through their Tax Amnesty Program.

Businesses with delinquent business license fees, tax license fees, and/or city sales tax on or before Sept. 1, 2015 are eligible for the Amnesty Program.

The City is also offering unlicensed businesses the opportunity to obtain a business and/or tax license with a waiver of penalties during the program.

The amnesty period will run September 1 through October 30.

http://www.kvoa.com/story/29866886/city-of-tucson-offering-tax-amnesty-program-for-businesses More...

August 24, 2015
Dover, NH
Unlicensed Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Scramble To Comply With Regulations
http://nhpr.org/

Southeastern New Hampshire Services in Dover offers inpatient substance abuse treatment along the same stretch of County Farm Road as a nursing home and a day care center.

State law mandates that all three businesses be licensed and undergo annual health and safety inspections. But for as long as Heidi Moran can remember, state regulators have allowed Southeastern New Hampshire Services to operate without any oversight.

“For years, and I mean 20-plus years, we have been receiving grant money from the state,” says Moran, the agency’s clinical administrator, “and we have never had to have a license.”

That’s set to change July 1, 2016, when the state will cut funding to Southeastern New Hampshire Services and two other unlicensed residential programs, Serenity Place in Manchester and Headrest in Lebanon.

To keep their programs going, the three centers will need to bill Medicaid and private insurers, who are now required to cover substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act. To bill the insurers, the centers need a health care facility license – and that requires compliance with hundreds of regulations on everything from fire protection to door handles.

Moran estimates it will cost $500,000 to upgrade her building to meet the licensing requirements. That includes installing an elevator and refitting bathrooms to meet the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s crazy-making,” she says.

Sharon Drake, executive director of Serenity Place, says most of her bedrooms are too small under the licensing standards. She’s looking at $1 million in renovations or reducing the number of beds at a time when every inpatient treatment program in the state has a waiting list.

Both organizations have also had to hire additional staff to help clients get insurance coverage, as well as experts to bill the insurers and document, record and track every claim.

Drake says treatment providers waited a long time for the day when insurers would have to cover substance abuse like any other medical condition. But with less than a year to go, she says the state has not done enough to help the unlicensed programs prepare.

“There was no ramp-up time,” she says. “There was no, ‘This is where we’re going and here are some resources to help you,’ no conversation on the licensing end of it.”

Officials with the state Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, or BDAS, dispute that, maintaining that the unlicensed programs have known for at least two years that they would need to be licensed.

About a dozen inpatient programs, including Keystone Hall in Nashua and Phoenix House in Dublin and Keene, are already in compliance.

Cheryl Wilkie, who oversees substance abuse treatment programs at the Farnum Center, a licensed, 18-bed inpatient facility in Manchester, says she was surprised to learn there were unlicensed inpatient programs in operation.

While she would “hate” to see any residential program shut down over the issue, she says, licensed programs like hers have gone without state funding since Medicaid and private insurers began paying for treatment.

“Hearing they didn’t have licenses, that means BDAS has been carrying them for two years,” Wilkie says. “That money could be used for prevention. We could do so much with it.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges that state regulators didn’t learn about the unlicensed programs until early 2011, when the facility standards were updated.

“These handful of facilities did operate for the longtime without a license,” says Jake Leon, director of communications for the Department of Health and Human Services. “I think when the licensing folks realized that, they moved to change it.”

Leon says the department is working with the unlicensed programs to help bring them into compliance. In some cases, he says, that means making sure renovations meet the standards for a residential facility. In others, it could mean helping them find a new location.

Elected officials at the state and federal levels have gotten involved as well.

Citing the “overwhelming demand” for treatment services, especially inpatient care, Gov. Maggie Hassan has ordered a review of the state’s licensing requirements.

In a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the secretary Health and Human Services, Sen. Kelly Ayotte has asked federal officials to work with the state. “At a time when access to treatment is already lacking,” she wrote, “burdensome and costly regulations should not further hinder the ability of individuals struggling with addiction to get the help they need.”

Moran, of Southeastern New Hampshire Services, says she briefly considered closing the inpatient program and continue operating as an outpatient center. But, with so many people needing the more intensive treatment, she’s decided against it.

Instead, she hired an architect to start drawing up plans for a renovation. That was two years ago, and she's still waiting for Strafford County, which owns the building, the city of Dover, and the state sign off on the plans.

"All I know is I want to stay open and they have given us until next June and I haven't had a hammer swing in this place yet," Moran says.

Serenity Place has decided its best option is to find a building that complies with the state’s facility standards, says Sharon Drake. That's proven difficult. A plan to move to a former school for troubled teenagers was shut down by city officials when neighbors objected. More recently, an offer on a second location fell through.

In the meantime, like Moran, Drake is watching the clock.

“We all have to move towards [licensing] and we’re all willing to move toward it,” she says. “But they need to give us more time and they need to have some flexibility so that we don’t lose beds.”

http://nhpr.org/post/unlicensed-substance-abuse-treatment-programs-scramble-comply-regulations More...

August 24, 2015
Ogle County, IL
County Board Rejects Tobacco Licensing 13-9
http://www.oglecountynews.com/

Three people voiced their disappointment Tuesday after the Ogle County Board rejected a measure that would have required licenses for businesses that sell tobacco products.

The board turned down the motion to approve the licensing by a vote of 13 to 9. Two board members Nic Bolin, Holcomb, and John Finfrock, Mt. Morris, did not attend the meeting.

I’m disappointed,” said Joanie Padilla, county director of Health Education and Emergency Preparedness.

She had earlier told the board that she believed the licensing would help discourage businesses from selling tobacco products to anyone 18 or younger.

Zachary Prosser and Grant Zickur, both juniors at Rochelle Township High School, also voiced their disappointment. Both had addressed the board, urging members to vote for the measure.

“I’m very disappointed,” Prosser said. “I’ve seen a lot of Rochelle Township High School students involved in tobacco products.”

Zickur agreed. “I found it disappointing not so much for charging [the businesses], but as a another avenue to prevent young people from smoking,” he said.

The proposal stipulated that any Ogle County business that sells or wants to sell tobacco products must apply annually to the Ogle County Health Department and, if approved, pay a $100 license fee.

Padilla said the licensing would give the health department the authority to go into businesses and conduct compliance checks, making sure tobacco products are not being sold to underage youths.

Currently, she said, the state of Illinois has no such licensing for businesses selling tobacco products.

Oregon, Byron, and Rochelle have obtained grants to do compliance checks for cigarettes, she said, and the police there carry them out.

She said the health department would not do compliance checks for cigarettes in those three towns, but would do them there for other tobacco products, as well as in the rest of the county.

“Kids aren’t buying cigarettes,” Padilla said. “They’re buying Swisher Sweets that have flavors like cherry lemonade and cotton candy. They’re smoking e-cigarettes. These are marketed to kids.”

Nineteen businesses in Ogle County have never had compliance checks for any tobacco product, she said.

Byron is the only community that requires tobacco licenses, she said, and businesses there would still have to purchase a county license.

She said Byron Mayor Chris Millard has given the health department a letter of support.

“This is going to add to your duties,” said board member Greg Sparrow, Rochelle. He asked if the licensing fees would cover the costs of doing the compliance checks.

Padilla said she believed that they would. She said 89 to 100 facilities in the county sell tobacco products.

Board member Zach Oltmanns, Davis Junction, said that although he is opposed to smoking, he would not vote for the licensing.

“I believe this is another tax on businesses,” he said.

http://www.oglecountynews.com/2015/08/19/county-board-rejects-tobacco-licensing-13-9/arueo6l/ More...

August 20, 2015
New Ulm, MN
Brown County Updates 17 Year Old Tobacco Ordinance
http://www.keyc.com/

NEW ULM, Minn. - The Brown County Board unanimously approved revisions to the to the county's tobacco ordinance.

Brown County's 17 year old tobacco ordinance on the sale and licensing of tobacco products is receiving an update.

A public hearing today allowed for input on the addition of tobacco–related products to the ordinance.

Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson says, "The biggest revision is obviously to add the e–cigarettes, electronic delivery devices and nicotine lobelia delivery products."

The revisions add those products to the list of other tobacco products stores and vendors need a license to sell.

It also prohibits the sale of tobacco-related products to anyone under the age of 18 in Brown County.

School officials, medical professionals and community members crowded into the commissioner's boardroom to express their opinions.

Brown County Commissioner Scott Windschilt says, "A lot of different areas of the community came, including a good share of the youth, that is kind of what the ordinance is intended to protect."

The revisions focus on one type of product, e–cigarettes, with names that often times appeal to children.

Hanson says, "Flavors like gummy–bear, juicy fruit. Those obviously aren't flavors being marketed toward adults, those are being marketed towards children and we want to be able to keep them out of the hands of children."

The revision includes changes to the fees and fines for violation of the ordinance.

Windschilt says, "Compliance checks done on the business that are selling tobacco related products to make sure they are marketing only to people that are of legal age."

The County Board approved the revised ordinance this morning.

http://www.keyc.com/story/29827132/brown-county-updates-17-year-old-tobacco-ordinance More...

August 17, 2015
New Castle, PA
Castle Hills Cited For License Violation
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/

The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement cited a Neshannock Township business for a liquor license violation.

Evanemy LLC, doing business as Castle Hills Golf Course at 110 W. Oakwood Way, was cited for failing to notify the Liquor Control Enforcement Bureau of a change in managers from June 30, 2001, through June 8, 2015. The bureau said it is required to be notified of this type of change within 15 days of the change.

These charges will be brought before an administrative law judge, who has the authority to impose penalties ranging from $50 to $1,000 for minor offenses, and up to $5,000 for a serious offense. The judge may also impose a license suspension or revocation based on the severity of the charge brought.

http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/castle-hills-cited-for-license-violation/article_c50bf986-446a-11e5-a8f3-b3ae096a76a8.html More...

August 13, 2015
Destin, FL
Crab Island Restaurant Closed For Unlicensed Activity
http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/20150811/BUSINESS/150819858

DESTIN — A Crab Island restaurant was shut down by the state last week after a random inspection revealed it had been operating without a license.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced Tuesday that Waterworld, a restaurant operated by Crab Island Bay Sports LLC, was shut down Aug. 7.

According to Florida Statutes, the food barges on Crab Island are required to have the same permits as a food truck or other mobile food vendor.

Waterworld offered hotdogs, boudin, quesadillas and nachos, according to the DBPR report.

Crab Island Bay Sports LLC is facing a $500 fine from the DBPR for operating a public food service establishment without a license.

Even if Waterworld had the proper license, it likely would have been issued an emergency closure because the DBPR inspector found numerous violations during their inspection.

Waterworld was cited for storing food at improper temperatures, not using food-graded containers used for food storage, not having soap and towels available at the hand wash sink, having rusty water coming from its sink and being unable to verify that its water came from an approved source.

Waterworld was the sixth local restaurant to be shut down by the DBPR in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa or Walton counties this year and the first to be shut down for operating without a license. Last year, 31 emergency closures were issued to restaurants in the local area.

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/20150811/BUSINESS/150819858 More...

August 10, 2015
Fort Myers, FL
Florida Investigation of Planned Parenthood Clinics Finds Deficiencies
http://www.wsj.com/

Three Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics in Florida were ordered to stop performing second-trimester abortions after an investigation found they didn’t have the proper licenses, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Wednesday.

The investigation also found one clinic that wasn't keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains, according to the agency. The state may take additional actions, including administrative sanctions, against the clinics.

“Licenses are in place to protect the patient from unscrupulous operators and the state of Florida will ensure every facility is held accountable for its actions,” the agency said in a news release.

Planned Parenthood said it was in full compliance with Florida law and the claim it performed unlicensed procedures was false.

“In the health centers AHCA reported on we only perform first trimester abortions, which we measure according to accepted medical guidelines and in accordance with Florida regulations as up to 13 weeks and six days from a woman’s last menstrual cycle,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

“This, as defined by rules, is still the first trimester. AHCA has never before indicated any different interpretation of this—including at inspections performed as recently as two weeks ago,” she added.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott last month ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood clinics in the state following an antiabortion group’s release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procurement of fetal tissue for research following abortions.

Several states and members of Congress have launched investigations, and Republicans have called for a stop to federal funds for Planned Parenthood. The organization has said the videos show no illegal actions or wrongdoing and have said they are the subject of a smear campaign by antiabortion activists.

Following an unannounced visit by agency investigators on July 31, a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Petersburg was found to be providing services beyond the scope of its license, according to the state findings posted Wednesday online. A further review found that 25 out of 742 abortions performed between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 were done in the second trimester of pregnancy. The agency may impose a fine that doesn’t exceed $500 for each violation.

A clinic in Fort Myers, Fla., was also found to be in violation, based on the state findings. The report said 21 second-trimester abortions were conducted between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.

In Naples, Fla., the state investigators found a third Planned Parenthood clinic performing second-trimester abortions without a proper license. The state said a review found that 19 were done between July 2014 and June 2015.

A clinic in Pembroke Pines, Fla., failed to follow its own policy regarding proper labeling and dating of the disposal of fetal remains, the agency report said. That affected the disposal of remains from 25 abortions. A letter dated Wednesday from the state to the clinic requests a correction plan within 10 calendar days.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has denounced Planned Parenthood and questioned federal funding for the organization in the wake of the undercover videos.

Indiana also launched an investigation into its Planned Parenthood clinics in the wake of the release of the videos, but found no laws were broken. Other states, including Texas, are still investigating.

Also on Wednesday, New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted to strip $639,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood. The Republican-led council voted along party lines as it considered state contracts for family planning services.

Corrections & Amplifications: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that state investigators found a Planned Parenthood clinic in Naples, Fla., performed second-trimester abortions without a proper license between July 2015 and June 2015. The time period was between July 2014 and June 2015. (Aug. 6, 2015)

http://www.wsj.com/article_email/florida-investigation-of-planned-parenthood-clinics-finds-deficiencies-1438817376-lMyQjAxMTI1NzA3NjMwNjY2Wj More...

August 6, 2015
Ben Lomond, CA
Ben Lomond Mold Work Triggers $1,500 Fine From Contractors State License Board
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/

BEN LOMOND >> A cleaning company in San Jose hired to take care of mold remediation at a rental home at 10424 Love Creek Road has been cited by the Contractors State License Board and fined $1,500.

The citation was mailed July 29 to Ladd Services of San Jose, according to the contractors board spokesman Steve Breen.

Breen said the fine was $750 for working without a license and $750 for advertising without a license.

Anyone who contracts to work on a project of $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must have a license from Contractors State License Board , one of nine agencies participating in the state’s Labor Enforcement Task Force fighting California’s underground economy.

The maximum fine for a first violation of contracting without a license is $5,000; the maximum fine for advertising without a license is $1,000.

In the past three years, the task force has inspected 1,600 contracting businesses and found 38 percent out of compliance, assessing fines of $1.2 million.

Breen said the Contractors State License Board investigator who visited the Ben Lomond home found insulation torn out.

“With restoration, it’s a fine line,” he said. “They can operate without a license if they don’t tear into walls, floorboard, carpeting, drywall. We’ve got pretty clear parameters.”

The contractor has the right to appeal or could opt to mail in the fine.

“We hope to convince people to get a license,” Breen said.

Ladd Services, owned by Greg Ladd, did not return a call seeking comment.

The state agency was called in by David Homa, whose family was renting the three-bedroom home for $3,000 a month from property owner Robert Nuell.

After Homa’s wife Sonja saw their children experiencing respiratory problems and rashes, Homa paid for a certified mold firm, A.R.E. Inspections, for testing to see if mold had resulted from persistent dampness in the house.

The report found mold in the basement, with penicilium/aspergillus spore counts higher outside than inside, and recommended a specific remediation protocol, which Homa said was ignored by the Ladd Services repairman hired by Nuell.

“When he ran those air purifiers, he was supposed to blow that air outside the house, not inside,” Homa said. “He was supposed to cover the furniture. He didn’t do that. He was going to spray chemicals in the house, which were pretty dangerous after we read the ingredients.”

He and his wife, who is expected to give birth to their fourth child later this month, moved out before their two-year-lease was up.

“She’s doing great, taking it day by day,” he said.

As for the citation, Homa said, “I’m glad ... People need to check for the state license. It’s not that hard.”

Checking a license can be done online at www.cslb.ca.gov by entering the name of the business or the employee.

Homa said he checked the license of Tom’s Well Service in Santa Cruz, the firm the property owner recommended after tests the Homas paid for found E. coli and coliforms in the home’s drinking water. The house, built in 1923, has a system that chlorinates water from Love Creek for drinking and household use.

According to the Contractors State License Board database, Tom’s Well Service license was suspended after a $12,500 bond required by the state was cancelled May 23 by Wesco Insurance.

Thomas Robinson of Tom’s said he does in fact have a bond, but the state has not yet updated its database; the agency notes that due to workload issues, there can be a lag in updating information.

HomeAdvisor.com, which says it screens and profiles 85,000 service providers, lists Ladd Services in business since 1988 and offering water removal.

“We will look into it,” said Leland Clark in Home Advisor’s admissions department. ”We do our best to make sure all are properly licensed.”

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/business/20150803/ben-lomond-mold-work-triggers-1500-fine-from-contractors-state-license-board More...

August 4, 2015
Midwest City, OK
Midwest City Amends Code To Allow Food Trucks
http://newsok.com/

MIDWEST CITY — Members of the city council recently approved amendments to existing code, "Peddlers and Solicitors, Article III, Foodstuffs," by taking Section 32-60 out of reserve and titling it “Food Trucks, license required.”

According to city officials, by making this change, food truck operators will be allowed to operate within the city limits of Midwest City, as long as they follow specified requirements, including only operating in areas zoned for business or industrial uses.

Food trucks are allowed to operate in areas other than business or industrial only by obtaining a special-events permit. These are limited to two per year.

All food truck operators will be required to be licensed and have an up-to-date food manager’s certification by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Operators will be required to file a sworn application in writing, provided by the city clerk, and pay an annual city license fee of $250.

The food truck licenses will run from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 and will not be prorated.

According to Midwest City Manager J. Guy Henson, the presence of food trucks in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area is a growing trend.

“This code amendment is a first step in allowing food trucks to do business in our community at an affordable rate, but still having to meet standards set by the city and the City-County Health Department,” Henson said.

Henson said the city plans to discuss creating a food truck court and is looking at special food truck events.

To obtain a food truck license, go to the customer service desk on the first floor of City Hall, 100 N Midwest Blvd.

http://newsok.com/article/5437889 More...

August 3, 2015
Phoenix, AZ
Man On 'Most Wanted Unlicensed Contractors' List Arrested
http://www.abc15.com/

PHOENIX, AZ - A Scottsdale man on the Arizona Registrar of Contractor ’s most wanted list was arrested by officials.

The Phoenix Police Department arrested Frank Marquez, 52, on July 29th.

Marquez does not have an Arizona contracting license. He was placed on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors "Most Wanted Unlicensed Contractors " list for being a repeat offender who performed poorly and left jobsites, according to the organization, otherwise known as AZ ROC.

Marquez's license was revoked in 2009 after ten complaints were filed about his poor work and also about him abandoning work. The complaints were made to AZ ROC between 2006 and 2009.

Since 2013, Marquez continued to work illegally under business names like Downtown Cabinetry, the Art of Cabinetry and A-1 Custom Cabinetry, according to AZ ROC.

In 2013, AZ ROC has investigated five additional cases that were all submitted for prosecution after the investigation of Marquez.

According to AZ ROC, three of the five victims said they paid Marquez $26,183.50 for custom cabinets. The other two cases involved advertising violations, according to the organization.

"By hiring an unlicensed entity, individuals open themselves up to incredible risk with little recourse for when issues arise,” AZ ROC Director Jeff Fleetham said.

“Consumers need to do their homework before hiring someone to perform work on or around their house and AZ ROC's website provides consumers with the ability to search for licensed contracting professionals in their area," he said.

Marquez was arrested on six counts relating to contracting without a license, failure to appear on a suspended driver’s license and issuing a bad check.

http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/central-phoenix/man-on-most-wanted-unlicensed-contractors-list-arrested More...

August 3, 2015
Detroit, MI
Zoning change slakes thirst for alcohol in Detroit restaurants
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/

For years, if a restaurateur wanted to open an alcohol-serving establishment in Detroit outside of the central business district, he or she was hamstrung.

That's because of an alarming amount of red tape and delays to earning that privilege.

But things are changing.

A zoning change that advocates describe as a win for restaurant owners outside of downtown's 1.6 square miles — particularly with the proliferation of new dining spots there and in the greater downtown's 7.2 square miles — took effect last month after nearly three years of work.

As of July 11, restaurants throughout the city's 143 square miles that serve alcohol are considered a "by right" use. Translation: No longer do prospective restaurateurs need to go through a hearing process through the Building, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department and the Board of Zoning Appeals that could affect not only wallets — but also calendars — if they wanted to locate within 1,000 feet of two other alcohol-serving restaurants.

The process for one license could take up to $2,200 in city fees — not to mention costs for an attorney — and up to six to eight more months to receive BSEED and BZA approval for an alcohol-serving restaurant, said Tonja Stapleton, zoning administrator for BSEED.

"Basically, we were shooting ourselves in the foot when trying to create entertainment districts and different nodes," Stapleton said. "It really impacted the Livernois business district and Corktown and Eastern Market, and to some extent, New Center and Midtown."

A series of steps are required to open a restaurant in Detroit, including site selection, site plan approval and obtaining a liquor license, city business license and certificate of occupancy, among others.

Patrick Howe, a partner focusing on hospitality and land use for Royal Oak-based law firm Howard & Howard PLLC, said Corktown hot spots like Slows Bar BQ, Gold Cash Gold, Mercury Burger Bar and Sugar House all had to go through the prolonged process.

The system required two separate hearings. First, a board of building department staff member would have to approve the restaurant use. Then if approved, the applicants would have to receive a waiver of concentration from the zoning team, Howe said.

"You don't have to deal with the hearings now," he said. "You can just go get your liquor license and go through that process. It's a real time saver."

It also will help grease the skids for restaurateurs from out of state eying Detroit for a location, Howe said.

"We are seeing restaurants from New York, Chicago, Las Vegas. When they call me and I have to explain the process that takes 60-90 days to complete," it's a deterrent, he said. "Then I tell them the building they are looking at can be used as a restaurant by right, it's a huge change in their minds."

Stapleton said that in the first weeks of working on the ordinance revision, the state Liquor Control Commission had authorized the city to have 476 Class C liquor licenses, which allow for the sale of liquor, beer and wine for consumption on premises. Those cost $600 per year, plus $350 per year for each additional bar. The LCC had issued 596, putting the city 120 over quota.

The city currently has 558 licenses issued, or 81 over quota. Detroit can have more issued licenses than the quota because the quota is based on population figures from U.S. Census data and the number of issued licenses sometimes lags behind that figure.

Ryan Cooley, owner of O'Connor Realty Detroit LLC in Corktown and a partner of Slows Bar BQ and Gold Cash Gold (all three of which had to receive BSEED and BZA approvals), said the change will expedite the process for new restaurateurs.

When asked, he typically tells aspiring restaurant owners it takes about 18 months to open up a restaurant in Detroit between securing the financing, build-out and obtaining the proper approvals.

That timeframe is now shortened.

"Anything to speed up the process is good," Cooley said.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20150802/NEWS/308029998/zoning-change-slakes-thirst-for-alcohol-in-detroit-restaurants More...

July 29, 2015
Trenton, NJ
Trenton cracking down on unlicensed businesses
http://www.nj.com/

A crackdown by Trenton officials on unlicensed businesses could bring in more revenue to the city.

"We're in a place to get it done," Deputy City Clerk Cordelia Staton said. "There's certainly a need for us to go out. Some folks need a little nudging ... and there's a lot more money to be collected to go into the city coffers."

She said the clerk's office had become lax in going after businesses in recent years.

"We didn't have all the resources we needed to carry it out as aggressively as we wanted, but now we do," Staton said. "We have our vehicle, we have our summons book and we've had our refresher on issuing summons."

Shirley Lopreato, supervisor of records in the clerk's office, said she is in the midst of finalizing a list of businesses that do not have a valid business license or health permit. Letters will be sent out this week and owners will be given a small window of time to comply.

If they do not come in to pay, Lopreato will hit the streets and begin issuing summonses.

"They're not getting a big window because they've been warned before and they keep ignoring the warning," she said.

Renewals are due every year by Feb. 1 and letters go out in December, Lopreato said.

Staton warned that businesses could be shut down if they ignore the summons.

"We're not ruling out random inspections because there's going to be a lot of people that we just don't catch," she said.

Lopreato said that by being more proactive, they'll be able to catch businesses that have come under new ownership and failed to register with the city.

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/07/trenton_cracking_down_on_unlicensed_businesses.html More...

July 29, 2015
Boston, MA
Legislature passes liquor licenses in Stoughton and Tyngsboro
http://www.patriotledger.com/

BOSTON – The House on Monday passed legislation authorizing six more licenses in Stoughton and 10 additional alcohol licenses in Tyngsboro. The bills, based on legislation filed by Reps. Colleen Garry of Dracut and division chair Rep. Louis Kafka of Stoughton, could eventually add to the rash of laws approved in recent years to assist communities that have run up against their cap on allotted licenses.

In May, Garry and others appealed to the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for a batch of licenses to accommodate anticipated restaurant development in Tyngsboro, which officials hope to further develop a corridor that crosses the New Hampshire state line into the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua.

Officials said 30,000 vehicles a day travel through the area. “We’re looking at that corridor as sort of our economic engine,” Curt Bellevance, Tyngsboro’s town administrator, said at the hearing. Garry said developers want to know if licenses will be available, and town officials don’t want to have to tell them they might be able to get licenses, depending on the success of legislation. “We just want to have them in a drawer,” Garry told her colleagues.

http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20150727/NEWS/150727059.html More...

July 29, 2015
Kankakee, IL
1 in 5 businesses in Kankakee has no city license
http://www.daily-journal.com/

Nearly 170 Kankakee businesses apparently are operating without a city-mandated business license, not only withholding badly needed money from the city, but also potentially evading important safety inspections.

The city clerk's office recently determined 168 businesses — some of which admittedly may no longer exist — didn't renew their licenses by May 1. Fifty-four of those businesses, nonprofits, don't have to pay the $100 renewal fee, and the other 114 may account for $11,400 owed to the city.

While that may not sound like much, it comes at a time when the city is scratching for every dollar it's owed.

"It takes a couple of years for people to get in the loop of what is expected," said Mayor Nina Epstein. "We put this into effect because we wanted a database of businesses. We also wanted to improve the inspection process since Kankakee is an older community. It isn't about the money."

Noncompliant businesses, including those exempt from a renewal fee, could face fines ranging from $50 to $500 for each day without a license through adjudication court. Assistant City Attorney Pat Power believes most businesses will cooperate before legal action is required.

"We don't want to hurt or shut down any business," Power said, noting businesses have yet to be ticketed. "We just want compliance with our ordinance and to know who we have in business. If they don't comply, we'll have to start writing tickets."

Kankakee monitors and regulates businesses through the licensing ordinance, which took effect in 2014. Businesses must complete an application and present various documents to register and renew their licenses. The licensing year runs from May 1 to April 30.

The ordinance states, "It is unlawful for any person to conduct, operate, engage in or practice any business in the city of Kankakee from a specific premise, without first having obtained a business license for the city."

Farmers, hospitals, health care professions, home-sited businesses and state-licensed businesses don't need a city license, per the ordinance.

Nonprofits, day cares and businesses with liquor licenses are exempt from the renewal fee but must have a city business license. Forty-two nonprofits — 20 of which are churches — didn't renew their licenses. Eight day cares and four liquor license carriers also didn't renew.

Ross's Chicago Records still has to submit paperwork but plans on renewing its license. The store's manager feels the ordinance "milks a little more money away from small businesses" and hopes it doesn't continue.

"It's a pain in the butt," manager Rich McGillen said. "We're not deliberately ignoring it. It's not something we are in the habit of. You have to be reminded."

Terry Vaughn, owner of Terry Vaughn Construction, also empathized with small businesses. After 30 years in business, the former mayor of Bourbonnais didn't renew his license because he and his wife are moving to California within three months.

"While $100 isn't a big burden to us, it is for some of the smaller businesses," Vaughn said. "That's $100 more you have to come up with that could go toward bills. It's hard to be in business nowadays."

Jaffe Drugs, the drugstore accused of owing more than $20,000 in back pay to former employees, has been operating without a license since May. Its owners filed a renewal application but didn't pass a fire inspection.

The drugstore's owners, Barry and Fred Jaffe, appeared in circuit court on Thursday for not meeting fire codes since June 2014. They have to significantly repair their building by Aug. 6 or else they will have to vacate it.

Power and Kankakee Fire Department Capt. Mike Casagrande said Jaffe's building is a fire hazard and could jeopardize neighboring businesses. Epstein said that's an example of why there's a licensing ordinance in the first place.

"These businesses are part of our community and so are the people who buy from them," she said. "So, it's important that we are vigilant in our inspections and make sure our businesses meet standards."

http://www.daily-journal.com/news/local/in-businesses-in-kankakee-has-no-city-license/article_14a14894-fb02-595e-bce9-36d2fb802d20.html More...

July 28, 2015
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Deputies cite two Rancho Cucamonga massage parlors
http://www.dailybulletin.com/

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Two massage parlors — one of which was part of a sting in June — were recently cited by sheriff’s deputies for operating a business without a license, authorities said.

Deputies witnessed employees at the Orchid Massage, 9000 Foothill Blvd. No. 104, and the 5 Star Massage, 6652 Carnelian St., seeing customers and completing business transactions at 2 p.m. June 21, though neither business was properly licensed by the city, according to a news release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

5 Star Massage was one of six businesses included in a sheriff’s operation on June 4.

In the latest incident, Rancho Cucamonga fire personnel and the city’s business licensing staff inspected both locations and citations were issued to the owners. Neither business was found to have a proper business license or conditional use permit, authorities said.

Deputies cited Xin Liu, 49, of Montclair, Chun Ye, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga and Yuan Shao, 47, of El Monte on suspicion of violating a municipal code section for operating a business without a license, according to the news release.

The city allows legitimate massage parlors to conduct business. As with any other business, the parlors must have proper licensing and inspections completed prior to the business opening to the public, authorities said.

In June, deputies assigned to the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Task Force arrested 11 people and shut down three massage parlors in Rancho Cucamonga.

The prostitution sting included serving three search warrants and conducting six compliance checks on June 4.

The businesses were identified as: Haven Therapy, 10062 Foothill Blvd.; 5 Star Massage, 6652 Carnelian St.; Sun’s Acupuncture and Massage, 8865 Foothill Blvd.; Rancho Health Center, 9619 Foothill Blvd.; Happy Massage, 9223 Archibald Ave., Suite D; and the Royal Spa, 9090 Milliken Ave., No. 130.

Several of the businesses were cited for city licensing or code violations as well as fire or building safety issues.

Anyone with information regarding the massage parlors can contact the sheriff’s Rancho Cucamonga station at 909-477-2800. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact the WeTip Hotline at 800-78CRIME (27463) or leave information on the WeTip website at www.wetip.com.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/general-news/20150724/deputies-cite-two-rancho-cucamonga-massage-parlors More...

July 28, 2015
Scappoose, OR
Scappoose council OKs pot ordinance
http://portlandtribune.com/

After months of sharp divides and mixed messages about medical marijuana dispensaries, the Scappoose City Council narrowly approved an ordinance, amending its business licensing program to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in city limits.

Councilors delivered emphatic viewpoints on the issue, as residents from throughout Columbia County filled every chair in the room, lined the walls and spilled into the hallway during a public hearing Monday, July 20.

After being the first in the county to approve a business licensing program for medical marijuana dispensaries in April, the council changed direction on the issue in June, citing a conflict with federal law. The shift came as the city was processing an application for a business license from Sweet Relief Natural Medicine, a medical marijuana dispensary on Highway 30 in Scappoose.

At issue was language in the city’s code that requires businesses to comply with all local, state and federal laws. Scappoose city attorney Shelby Rihala advised the council that it could modify the language about federal compliance, to indicate exceptions for businesses complying with Oregon’s controlled substances act.

The council failed to approve the immediate implementation of the ordinance earlier this month, but approved the ordinance with a 4-3 vote Monday.

Councilors Barbara Hayden, Jason Meshell and Mayor Scott Burge voted against the ordinance.

Meshell led the council’s initial about-face on dispensaries when he pointed out that the recently approved business license program contradicted language in the city’s own codes. He voiced staunch opposition again Monday, saying the city shouldn’t change its code for the sake of marijuana dispensaries. The councilor also said he feared personal legal liability for failing to uphold federal law.

“The Controlled Substances Act is a federal law, it’s not a federal suggestion,” Meshell said.

Burge, who was the last to cast his vote Monday, said later by phone that had the vote been a tie, he likely would have voted yes.

“I just wanted to make sure the conflict was acknowledged,” Burge said. “The part that I’m torn about is that we vote to tell our city manager and chief of police to violate federal law.”

Rihala advised the council that recently approved legislation allows cities to vote on banning marijuana dispensaries, but because Sweet Relief has already received state approval, it would be exempt from any dispensary ban. She said the city and city councilors are unlikely to face any legal problems for allowing businesses that comply with state law.

Several people showed up Monday to address the council and argue for Sweet Relief. The council heard from more than 15 speakers, many of whom gave personal accounts of how marijuana helped them with serious ailments.

Longtime Columbia County resident Laura Byrd said the plant-based drug allowed her to replace three different pills she took daily following a serious horseback riding incident that left her permanently injured. She urged the council’s approval of the ordinance.

“I believe you’re hiding behind federal government,” Byrd said.

Councilor Mark Reed, who voted against approving the ordinance July 6, said he changed his stance on the dispensary after visiting the site and talking with the owners.

“I feel like I’m voting from a position of knowledge now,” Reed said, noting extensive surveillance and security at the site. “There are maladies for which marijuana might be the only option or the safest option.”

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from the July 20 vote.

So far, Scappoose has received only one application for a medical marijuana dispensary business license.

Earlier this month, Oregon legislators passed a bill that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell pot to recreational users starting Oct. 1.

http://portlandtribune.com/scs/83-news/267612-141828-scappoose-council-oks-pot-ordinance More...

July 27, 2015
Amherst, VA
Amherst Readies To Collect On Back Taxes For Business Licenses
http://www.newsadvance.com/

Since 2008, the town of Amherst has steadily fallen behind in collecting money owed for updated business licenses. Now in 2015, the Town Council has begun the process of implementing new methods to collect on past due licenses and keep licenses current.

In April, the council was made aware of back taxes, in particular those stemming from outstanding business licenses dating back at least seven years.

As of last week, businesses in the town of Amherst hold a total of 181 business licenses, according to town of Amherst Office Manager and Treasurer Colan Davis. Of those, 40 remain outstanding for 2015, she said. As of the end of June report, nearly $23,000 is owed to the town of Amherst for 2008-2014.One of the town’s new measures in the process of being implemented to collect what is owed is Virginia’s Set-Off Debt Collection Program.

“You input customer information into the state’s system … and how much they owe,” Davis said.

To her understanding of the program, she said, when a person who is behind files for a tax return, their name is flagged and they receive a letter explaining that their refund is being held because a certain locality is claiming owed money.

Another option being explored is bank liens, if applicable.

These new methods will be added to the measures already in place for collecting business license taxes.

Up until the discussion for change earlier this year, Davis said she was limited to sending letters and making phone calls. Although part of the town’s policy on collections also allows a visit to a customer’s place of business, she has not before had to take that option.

“Visiting will be implemented if necessary,” Davis said. “We like to give the benefit of the doubt.”

The town still is finalizing these new collection methods, Davis said. More information must be gathered for the bank liens option, and Davis and Fiscal Assistant Dee Foltz must complete several classes before utilizing the Set-Off Debt Collection Program.

Davis gave several reasons for why some businesses continue to operate without a valid license.

“We can’t legally chain up their business,” Davis said. “And some don’t understand they’re required to have a license. … Not every locality requires a license.”

Davis said business owners who overlook requirements may not have completed all the research needed on legally operating a business.

Other businesses may have moved from Amherst or gone out of business without notifying the town, which would leave the town’s records inaccurate.

On the reasoning behind why collecting on the owed money is only now a priority, Davis pointed to the fact that town council positions are up for election every two years. The priorities of the council seem to change as it gains and loses members, she said.

The current council made collecting on past due business licenses a priority starting earlier this year, when discussions on the topic began at council meetings.

http://www.newsadvance.com/new_era_progress/news/amherst-readies-to-collect-on-back-taxes-for-business-licenses/article_de3e8fb0-30a9-11e5-bc11-e359599bc8fc.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed More...

July 23, 2015
Pittsburgh, PA
PLI Chief Says City’s Business License Appeal Process Violates State Law
http://wesa.fm/

The City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections is changing the way it handles appeals to its decisions regarding businesses licenses and property violations.

PLI Chief Maura Kennedy said a review of all bureau policies last year revealed that the current system — wherein Kennedy herself evaluates and adjudicates appeals — violates state law.

“Legally there needs to be an independent body that you appeal the director’s decisions to,” she said. “It’s not appropriate for the department both to be the judge and the jury.”

A bill introduced in City Council on Tuesday would create a five-member Board of License and Inspection Review to adjudicate disputes. Kennedy said the independent body would have the ability to dig further into safety issues such as whether a building meets the city’s fire code.

“We here at the department are sort of the umpires, so we just call balls and strikes based on the code,” she said. “But there could be valid analogous systems that would provide a similar level of safety that this board could then use as judgment to rule on for very technical matters.”

The board would also get involved in the cases of property maintenance violations, such as crumbling sidewalks or mountains of debris on a front lawn, and when a business owner believes PLI is requiring them to get the wrong kind of license.

“It could be as easy as, we’re saying you’re engaging in one type of business activity and requiring you to get that type of license, and you’re saying ‘No, I’m not actually an arcade shop, I just have several antique arcade games that don’t work in my restaurant,’” Kennedy said.

Under the proposal, board members would be appointed by the mayor and would serve three-year terms. A similar board already exists for construction and engineering permits.

Council is slated to discuss the bill at its committee meeting Wednesday.

http://wesa.fm/post/pli-chief-says-city-s-business-license-appeal-process-violates-state-law More...

July 22, 2015
Bergen County, NJ
Bergen County moving companies cited for unlicensed services
http://www.northjersey.com/

The state has issued violation notices against eight moving companies, including four from Bergen County, for allegedly soliciting customers or performing moving services in New Jersey without being licensed by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

The action follows an investigation over this past year of unlicensed movers that were allegedly targeting Asian and Latino communities in New Jersey, often through foreign language newspapers, according to the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs.

The companies from Bergen County that were cited by the state are Canaan Express Inc., Palisades Park; Double Oh Seven LLC, aka 007 Moving, LLC, Palisades Park; GOM Cargo LLC, Ridgefield; and KS General Services, dba Doremi Moving General Service, Ridgefield.

The other moving companies cited by the state operated out of Newark, North Bergen and West New York.

Each violation notice requires that the company pay a civil penalty of $2,500. The penalty can be reduced to $1,250 if the company submits an application to the division for a public mover's license within 15 days.

All eight of the cited companies have been assessed civil penalties, with the option to challenge these penalties or seek licensure.

"It is unacceptable for unlicensed moving companies to target those who do not speak English as their primary language." said Steve Lee, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

The eight companies cited by the state were identified either through Internet postings or newspaper advertisements in which moving services were advertised exclusively in Spanish or Korean.

The owners of the Bergen County companies did not respond to questions or could not be reached.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/8-movers-cited-for-unlicensed-services-1.1377848 More...

July 22, 2015
Stevens Point, WI
City passes ordinance on reserve liquor licenses
http://www.stevenspointjournal.com/

STEVENS POINT – Entrepreneurs looking to relocate or start businesses in Stevens Point may find reserve liquor licenses more affordable after the city’s adoption of a refund program this week.

City Council members voted 9-2 this week on a measure that refunds most of the fees for some liquor licenses in an attempt to draw new businesses to town.

State law allows Stevens Point 55 beer, wine and liquor licenses that cost $500 a year, and all are being used by existing businesses. In addition to those, the city is allowed up to five reserve licenses. Reserve liquor licenses cost $10,000 each, and the refund program offers up to $9,500 in reimbursement.

In order to qualify for the grant program, the business must derive 51 percent of its revenue from non-alcohol sales.

http://www.stevenspointjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/07/21/city-passes-ordinance-reserve-liquor-licenses/30472535/ More...

July 21, 2015
Indiana, PA
Wolfendale's, Grub's Sports Bar closed over PLCB license issues
https://www.indianagazette.com

Closing for a midsummer hiatus may have been a routine thing for Wolfendale’s tavern and its companion, Grub’s Sports Bar, in downtown Indiana.

Reopening for business will be anything but routine for the pair of nightspots.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board deactivated the license for the businesses on July 1, primarily because the owner, NCK Inc., failed to submit a midterm validation for its ongoing operation.

A PLCB spokesman also said the license for Wolfie’s and Grub’s can’t be reactivated until the company meets its obligation for taxes due to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Ken Arthurs, the secretary of NCK and manager of the Wolfendale’s complex, acknowledged that the license is hung up because of tax issues but said he expected to clear up the problem and reopen sometime this week.

“We take a vacation at this time every single year,” Arthurs said. But the tavern was unable to reopen as he had planned on July 10 and Wolfendale’s was forced to find a new venue for a band that had been booked to play that night.

But it was during that first week of the month that NCK management realized its permit hadn’t been renewed.

“When you renew your liquor license, you have to have your taxes current,” Arthurs said. When June 30 came, he said, the company apparently still owed money to the state.

“We weren’t aware of it. We recently switched accountants,” he said. “But we will get it tied together.”

Arthurs said he had contacted state Rep. Dave Reed and state Sen. Don White’s local legislative offices for help navigating the state bureaucracy, an effort confirmed both by Reed’s office director, Jonathan Longwill, and White’s staff chief, Joe Pittman.

The PLCB also confirmed Wolfendale’s license has been held up, but spokesman Shawn Kelly gave a different explanation.

Liquor licenses ordinarily are granted for two years, but licensees need to confirm in alternating years, by filing a validation, that they’re still using the license.

“In the off year you have to file validation to let us know you are still operating,” Kelly said. “The licensee (NCK) did not file this validation.”

Kelly said PLCB still verifies the license holder’s status before confirming that the license is still good.

“Our procedures require us to ensure that taxes for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Department of Labor and Industry are cleared before we renew or validate a license,” he said. “Our records indicate Revenue issued a clearance, but not Labor and Industry.

“However, we did not receive a request for validation, and no reason was provided as to why the licensee did not submit for validation.”

At the Department of Labor and Industry, spokesman David Eckelmann said he could not comment on NCK’s compliance with its obligations to the department.

Paying taxes to DLI and filing a validation request to PLCB may just be the beginning of reopening the tavern doors at 560 and 566 Philadelphia St.

There could be a new look in store for the Wolfendale’s, a fixture for nearly 30 years in Indiana, and Grub’s, the 2009 expansion of the business.

Arthurs said he is pondering a new atmosphere and a new marketing thrust because business is evolving.

Changes in the downtown Indiana nightlife landscape have changed people’s bar-hopping habits. Changes in the schedule at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, combined with the Indiana Borough political atmosphere and the shape of the Indiana area economy, also have changed the peaks and valleys in the business cycle for his taverns, Arthurs said.

“When you go on vacation, you get a chance to think about things, and we’re thinking about revamping Wolfie’s,” he said. “We may do a different thing; we may start catering to our older customers.

“We’re always portrayed as a fun party club … maybe it’s time for a name change, maybe it’s time for an image change. We just don’t know.”

Arthurs said the taverns would be closed Mondays the rest of the summer, and he had hoped to reopen on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, the neon beer logo signs still glowed inside the Grub’s storefront bar, but the doors remained locked and the “On Vacation” signs remained posted.

Representatives of NCK took part in publicity this week for the annual “Taste and Tour” promotional event for Indiana-area eateries, scheduled for tonight downtown. Grub’s has been advertised as one of the stops on the dining-heavy event.

Kelly at PLCB said Grub’s can legally take part.

“They can serve food and other items, they just cannot serve any alcohol,” he said.

And until Wolfendale’s ownership complies with the tax and paperwork requirements, the business is not in danger of losing its liquor permit.

“Generally, when a license is going to be inactive, we suggest that the licensee keep the license in safekeeping,” Kelly said. “They can do that for up to three years. Basically, it means they still have the license. They could take it out of safekeeping or transfer it to another entity.”

https://www.indianagazette.com/news/indiana-news/wolfendales-grubs-sports-bar-closed-over-plcb-license-issues,22412230/ More...

July 16, 2015
New York, NY
Unlicensed SoHo Day Care Is Shut Down After Death of Infant Boy
http://www.nytimes.com/

The day care that Lee Towndrow and Amber Scorah chose for their 3-month-old son, Karl, seemed like a good match in a city where child care can cost as much as college tuition and waiting lists seem to offer only discouragement.

SoHo Child Care, in a painting-filled second-floor artist’s loft on Greene Street, offered healthy, organic snacks and lunches, immersion in Spanish, birthday parties and Halloween festivities. It was run by Maryellen Strautmanis, who had raised her own six children in the building, at 69 Greene Street, and had taken care of dozens of others since 2001.

“I have the utmost respect for each individual child,” she wrote on her website. “I endeavor through humor, flexibility and consistency, to make each day a joyful experience.”

Monday was Karl Towndrow’s first day at SoHo Child Care. A few hours after his mother dropped him off, he was dead.

A spokeswoman for the office of the city’s chief medical examiner, which performed an autopsy on Tuesday, said the office was conducting further studies to determine the cause of death.

By Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis’s business had been ordered to shut down amid revelations that it had never been licensed — one of many unlicensed city day care centers that operate outside the law and come to regulators’ attention only when a child is hurt.

The city’s health department received a report of illegal child care activity at the Greene Street loft in November, but an inspector who visited the site could not confirm the allegation, Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the department, said on Tuesday. Workers at the business on the ground floor of the cream-colored building denied seeing any signs of a day care operation, and the inspector did not see any activity while watching the door, Mr. Miller said. No one answered the bell. Eventually, the complaint was dropped.

The department is stepping up efforts to track down unlicensed day care operators, Mr. Miller said, including searching online for listings and advertisements. Any provider that is found to be operating illegally is sent a cease-and-desist order, and inspectors follow up to make sure the site is closed.

Parents looking for child care for the first time often do not know that providers are supposed to be regulated, although awareness has grown in recent years, said Nancy Kolben, the executive director of the city-based Center for Children’s Initiatives. Instead, they may choose based on a center’s reputation among friends and other parents. And parents of infants and toddlers, for whom care is less widely available and more expensive than for older children, may be especially likely to choose an unlicensed option, she said.

“One of the things with a baby, often, is what’s most on the parent’s mind is: ‘Does this person seem warm and caring? Who’s going to be taking care of my child?’ ” Ms. Kolben said. “Those are all important things, but they should be part of a program that’s meeting the regulatory standards.”

New York has among the highest standards for regulating day care in the country, Ms. Kolben said. But she said the rules provided only a foundational framework that did not guarantee a high quality of care.

A 58-page document issued by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services outlines the regulations that SoHo Child Care would have had to follow to earn a license, including rules governing the training of day care employees, the number of meals children receive, the frequency with which bedding must be cleaned and the ratio of employees to children. The agency oversees day care centers throughout the state and contracts with the city’s health department to regulate those in the city.

All employees in licensed day care facilities are required to be trained in CPR and preventing sudden infant death syndrome.

Mr. Towndrow and Ms. Scorah, who live in an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, took Karl to SoHo Child Care after hearing about it from people who worked in SoHo, Robert K. Boyce, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, said.

Ms. Strautmanis, who lives in the 4,000-square-foot loft with her husband, mother-in-law and children, was caring for 15 children with three other employees, Mr. Boyce said. The children were as young as 3 months and as old as 3 years.

Posts on another SoHo Child Care parent’s blog spoke fondly of the activities and routines she offered: Ms. Strautmanis, her staff and the children dressed up for Halloween, and she brought out birthday cake for every child. She even tidied up one child’s haircut at his mother’s request.

The parent, Jacqui Cousin, wrote on the blog, “It is amazing to see how far” her son had come since starting day care. Ms. Strautmanis, originally from Canada, has weathered other times of turbulence. She and her husband, Vincent Strautmanis, had filed for bankruptcy in 2005. That same year, Mr. Strautmanis pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for taking $950,000 from JP Morgan Chase Bank, according to court records. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison, as well as three years of supervised release.

It was after Mr. Strautmanis’s company closed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that his wife began caring for the children of others in their loft, she said on her website. On Monday, Ms. Scorah, a writer who works on developing children’s educational products at Scholastic, had dropped her son off in the morning, planning to come back around noon to feed him. A worker at the day care fed him and put him down for a nap. Just before 12:15 p.m., she checked on him and found his lips blue. It was then that the police were called.

Karl was taken to Lenox Hill HealthPlex in Greenwich Village, where he was pronounced dead soon after. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis declined to comment.Karl was taken to Lenox Hill HealthPlex in Greenwich Village, where he was pronounced dead soon after. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis declined to comment.

On Ms. Scorah’s Instagram account, Karl smiled in almost every photograph: Karl on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Karl outside the White House, Karl next to a sign advertising a book talk for the author Karl Ove Knausgaard. Ms. Scorah is an occasional contributor to Gothamist and other publications, and has been working on a book. Mr. Towndrow is a cinematographer, photographer and visual effects artist who shot parts of “Going Clear,” the HBO documentary about Scientology.

“Karl was beloved by his parents, who doted on him every moment,” read a statement released by the family on an online fund-raising page created by friends. “He was their joy and brought happiness to everyone who met him. His family and friends are grieving but are taking comfort in knowing they knew this sweet, innocent soul, even if it was all too brief.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/nyregion/unlicensed-soho-day-care-where-infant-boy-died-is-shut.html?emc=edit_th_20150715&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66338200&_r=1&referrer More...

July 15, 2015
Seattle, WA
Seattle council OKs plan to close medical-marijuana businesses
http://www.seattletimes.com/

The Seattle City Council approved a plan to shut down medical marijuana businesses that have opened since January 2013.

Green cross signs will become more scarce in Seattle under a plan adopted by the City Council Monday.

The city will force medical-marijuana businesses that opened Jan. 1, 2013, or later to shut down by next July as part of a new licensing plan proposed by Mayor Ed Murray and approved by the council in a unanimous vote.

A rash of new medical-marijuana shops have opened since the start of 2013, just after voters legalized adult possession of an ounce or less of pot through Initiative 502.

Some in the legal pot business and City Hall view those newcomers — who make up roughly half of Seattle’s 99 medical marijuana dispensaries — as profiteers trying to capitalize on the more liberal state law and the city’s lax attitude toward pot businesses.

“This will give the city more authority than in the past to regulate,” said Councilmember Nick Licata, who has long been a supporter of medical marijuana.

New regulations take effect 30 days after the mayor signs the council legislation.

Murray has not disparaged the newer shops, but has said the city is trying to address the uncontrolled growth of the industry in Seattle.

City Attorney Pete Holmes has noted that some of the newcomers haven’t obtained basic city business licenses and some sell to nonpatients, so they aren’t even truly dispensaries.

The council’s vote comes less than a week after King County’s top two law enforcers announced a crackdown on 15 dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the counties.

Both the city and county actions were spurred by recent changes in state law that aim to bring medical-marijuana products and their consumers into legal retail pot stores licensed by the state. With that state plan requiring all marijuana shops to be state-licensed by next July, city and county officials are now starting to lay the groundwork for clamping down on the largely unregulated medical-marijuana shops.

The city’s plan amounts to three steps. It allows City Hall to revoke city business licenses for pot shops that don’t have a state license. It establishes a new city license for state-licensed pot businesses. And it creates priorities for enforcement against medical-marijuana businesses.

Medical shops that opened before 2013 and are in good standing with the city will be allowed to operate until the state issues new retail licenses by next July.

Seattle initially was allocated 21 retail store licenses by the state. When the state folds medical products into retail shops, David Mendoza, a Murray policy adviser, guesses that Seattle will get 20 to 30 additional retail licenses. That means not all of the city’s older dispensaries are likely to remain open after next July.

Only one pot-business representative testified before the council Monday. On behalf of three older medical-marijuana businesses, Philip Dawdy called the city legislation “in good shape” and encouraged the council’s support.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-council-oks-plan-to-close-medical-marijuana-businesses/

More...
July 14, 2015
Leonardtown, MD
Liquor board closes business for violations
http://www.thebaynet.com/

Leonardtown, MD - It should be a clear warning to bar businesses who sell their company to a new owner who doesn’t follow through with St. Mary’s County Liquor Board regulations: You can still be liable.

The board fined Judith M. and Gordon H. Ragan Jr., previous owners of the Dew Drop Inn in Hollywood’s Sandy Bottom $1,500 Thursday, July 9 for changing the name of the business and selling its alcohol stock to new owners without notifying the board they were doing so.

“The Dew Drop Inn is doing business under new management as the Hollywood Shakers,” Board member Tammy Hildebrandt said. “The corporal went to the business and saw the signs. Mr. Ragan indicated that he had sold the business and had nothing to do with it. Nothing had been done to change the name as required by alcoholic board,” she said.

“As I see it, there are two issues,” said board member Aaron Mathis. “The first is the trade name and the second is stock.”

“As far as the first violation, an employee did change the sign,” said Ragan’s attorney Nathaniel Chapman. “He was unaware he was not supposed to do that. He has been told to cover the signs and put up the Dew Drop Inn sign. He still has it.

“The second violation was a simple misunderstanding,” Chapman added. “It was nothing the license holders knew they were doing wrong. We will do anything the board wants us to do.”

Hildebrandt noted that the restaurant/bar had four prior violations for intoxicated patrons.

Liquor Board Chair Linda Pachinsky asked if the new owners had applied for a license yet.

“No,” Hildebrandt replied.

Board Member Betty Currie made a motion to fine the owners $1,000 for the first violation, seconded by board member Kevin Hill. The motion passed and Pachinsky warned it must be paid within 10 days.

“According to regulations, the old owner is still responsible for this license,” Hildebrandt said. “We do have businesses sell and when they come in for the application package they are told if new ownership is going to operate the business the previous owners have to pay the new owner as an employee until new ownership has been applied for and approved. The new owners can make an application [none has been made as of yet], you will not hear that application until August.”

As for the selling of stock without authorization, Hill made a motion for a $500 fine and suspend the license for the Dew Drop Inn for the violation they admitted to.

“The license is suspended until July 17,” he added. “If they submit if not, the license is suspended until we get an application.”

“We’ll be posting a closure notice on the door today,” Hildebrandt said.

http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0715/liquorboardclosesbusinessforviolations.html More...

July 14, 2015
Ocean Springs, MS
Ocean Springs aldermen approve short-term rentals
http://www.sunherald.com/

OCEAN SPRINGS, MISS. — The Ocean Spring Board of Aldermen has adopted an ordinance to regulate the growing business of people renting out homes on a short-term basis and charging higher rates than for monthly renters.

The ordinance will give these businesses a permit, a business license and a tax number so they can begin paying sales tax and room tax.

The ordinance was adopted Tuesday night.

There are between 24 and 29 of the businesses in the city already. The new ordinance caps the number at 35.

Mayor Connie Moran told The Sun Herald she was disappointed in the compromise point, but said, "I'm just glad to get something on the books."

The compromise provides short-term rental owners will take their application before the Planning Commission instead of the Zoning and Adjustment Board.

That was an issue because the zoning board already handles bed-and-breakfast businesses. Also, there are people on the planning commission who are against short-term rentals and are vocal about it.

Planning Commissioner Mary Marr Beckman said such rentals are a commercial endeavor and don't belong in a neighborhood. She said there's one across the street from her home and, "I just know it's not good for our neighborhood.

"We don't mind yearly rentals, but this coming and going is a different story," Beckman told aldermen.

Beckman told the aldermen she could be objective, she just didn't want one in her neighborhood.

Other highlights of the new ordinance"

— When a property is being considered, the neighbors will get certified letters alerting them to the proposal, a sign will be placed in the yard of the property and the proposal will be advertised.

— If the property is in a subdivision with a homeowners association, the association must approve.

— The license is not transferable if the property sells.

http://www.sunherald.com/2015/07/08/6312327_ocean-springs-aldermen-approve.html?rh=1 More...

July 9, 2015
Umatilla, Oregon
Umatilla expands definition for business license
http://www.eastoregonian.com/

Umatilla is expanding its definition of a "business" to include landlords and contractors coming in from neighboring cities.

Umatilla landlords and out-of-town businesses doing work in the city will pay $30 a year for a business license.

City Manager Bob Ward said the city’s business code hasn’t changed, but staff have decided to expand their interpretation of what it means to “do business” in the city.

“What we’re doing is taking that more literally,” he said.

As far as Ward is concerned, if people are earning income from a business activity in Umatilla, they need a license. That means landlords renting out a few houses or Hermiston contractors doing a roofing job in Umatilla are getting notice for the first time that they will need to go down to city hall and obtain a license.

Ward said people have accused the city of trying to make more money, but said the city’s real intent is to build a list of contact information based on the licenses.

“If a home is on fire and the tenant isn’t home, the landlord might want a call,” Ward said. “We can go through the county property records to get a name and address but there’s no phone number attached.”

He said tracking businesses through the licensing system will help the city be able to quickly contact business owners about everything from code enforcement issues to incidents involving law enforcement.

“We’re not always contacting them because they owe us something,” Ward said. “We could be contacting them because we know something they would want to know, too.”

Not everyone is happy with the change.

Jack McWhinnie, who owns two rental properties in Umatilla, said he thought it was “absurd” when he got a letter telling him he needed to get a business license.

“I just can’t believe the city is stooping this low to hit the property owners,” he said.

McWhinnie said he could afford the $30 but it was the principle of the thing that bothered him. He said he felt that the city was trying to raise extra revenue and that he thought there must be something better for the staff to do than to “just start nitpicking” at landlords.

McWhinnie and a few other people testified against the change in policy at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/local-news/20150709/umatilla-expands-definition-for-business-license More...

July 8, 2015
Fort Smith, AK
Fort Smith, Conway are larger Arkansas cities without a business license fee
http://www.thecitywire.com/

A survey of eight of Arkansas’ larger cities shows Conway as the only city other than Fort Smith not collecting a business license fee.

Reinstating a business license fee is one of the options Fort Smith city staff has presented to the Fort Smith Board of Directors to cover a shortfall in the city’s pension contributions for police and fire employees. The fee was dropped more than 30 years in exchange for business support of a sales tax increase.

According to City Administrator Ray Gosack, the city’s LOPFI (police and fire pension) fund will be insolvent by 2021. And that insolvency was pushed from 2019 to 2021 by a recent Board vote to reduce benefits under the pension plan.

During a June 23rd study session, the Board looked at three options on reinstating a license fee. The first option could generate $1.976 million. It would collect $20 per employee for businesses with employees from 1 to 500. The fee would be capped at $10,000.

The second option could raise at least $1.435 million with a plan that would charge a business $20 per employee from 26 to 500 employees with a cap at $10,000 a year. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees would not pay a fee.

The third option would charge a flat fee of $150 for all businesses and raise an estimated $761,550 a year. The cost to manage all three options is estimated to be $107,000 a year.

The survey, conducted by city staff, looked a the fee structure in Conway, Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Rogers, and Springdale. As noted earlier, Conway is the only city to not have a fee. Following are some of the details in survey from cities who have a business license fee. Fort Smith staff did not ask each city for annual revenue from the fees. However, Springdale did report that its fees generated $137,699 in 2013, and $133,419 in 2012.

• Fayetteville Home-based fee of $22 per year Non home-based fee of $35 per year

• Hot Springs Fees are based on business category and range between $75 and $1,500 a year.

• Jonesboro Fees are based on business category and range between $25 and $2,500 a year.

• Little Rock Fees are based on business category and range between $75 and $2,700 a year.

• North Little Rock Fees are based on business category and range between $90 and $1,000 a year.

• Rogers Fees are based on business category and begin at $40 and increase based on factors such as employees, hotel rooms, and restaurant seats.

• Springdale Fees are based on business category and range between $40 and $300 a year.

Many of the cities have a lengthy list of business categories and various fees for each. Hot Springs has a $75 fee for a business that sells fireworks, a $100 annual fee for “couriers and messengers,” a $200 fee for a business in poultry or egg production, and a $1.50 fee for businesses “primarily engaged in the seasonal parking of automobiles on open air lots.”

Jonesboro has a $35 annual fee for barber shops with one chair and a $10 fee for each additional chair. A hotel in Jonesboro with 150 rooms or more has a $400 annual fee. Manufacturers in the city employing more than 300 pay a $2,500 annual business license fee. Restaurants with 20 “chairs or stools or less” pays $50 a year. Restaurants with more than 300 chairs or stools pays $300 annually. And if you plan to operate a Turkish bath in Jonesboro, be prepared to pay a $35 annual business license fee.

In Rogers, manufacturers pay a $50 base plus $3 for “each employee or owner working 25 hours or more per week.” A restaurant in Rogers with more than 75 seats pays an annual business license fee of $150. Hotels with one to six units pays $50 a year, plus $3 for each unit above six.

A majority of the Board members have told The City Wire they either do not support reinstating a business license fee or want to see more budget cuts before they consider new fees or taxes.

City staff is expected to present refined options to address the pension shortfall during a July 14 study session. The Board could vote on other options at a July 21 board meeting.

http://www.thecitywire.com/node/38118#.VZ_XUflVjrx More...

July 8, 2015
Douglas, Wyoming
Liquor revamp: New license, guidelines, laws
http://www.douglas-budget.com/

A retail liquor license is a coveted thing in the service industry world. Now, the Wyoming Liquor Division has awarded one more to the City of Douglas, and it will be up for grabs in August, along with new guidelines to picking who can have one.

Besides the availability of a new license, the city has also come up with new criteria to follow during the application process alongside an ongoing process to revamp and rewrite the city ordinances regarding liquor licenses and service of alcohol.

“It’s not that it was wrong before,” City Clerk Karen Rimmer explained. She has been at the forefront of the ad hoc committee to overhaul the ordinance and is known in the city administration to be well acquainted with the complexities of liquor licenses and laws.

“We’ve just learned what not to do and what doesn’t work,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more restrictive.”

City officials say they hope to simply make it more clear.

City Administrator Tony Tolstedt said the process is not unlike updating the city master plan last year, or the more recent revamp of the city’s land development regulations.

“The best practices change and update from time to time,” Tolstedt said.

This is also true of the city’s application process for awarding liquor licenses. In previous years, the coveted retail licenses were unsuccessfully sought by businesses like Safeway and Maverik after divisive city council votes by two different city councils and for different reasons.

“One issue that came up with Maverik was their proximity to the new school across the street,” Rimmer said. She also remembered a comment at council about putting a liquor store next to a gas station where someone would get fuel, buy alcohol and get back on the highway.

However, a different council later awarded, Liquor Cabinet a retail license even though it sits next door to Grasslands Market.

Tolstedt hopes the addition of official guidelines might help to make future decisions more consistent. These guidelines include looking at the application business’ location (if it exceeds the need of an area, is within 500 feet of a church, school or daycare facility and so on), the viability of the business and financial plans, and when the business would plan to be open for business in cases where construction or renovation is required.

Guideline No. 1 may be the most important, but also the most subjective, stating, “The health, welfare, quality of life, or peaceful enjoyment of the people residing in the vicinity . . . shall not be adversely affected.”

These guidelines were officially adopted at the June 22 Douglas City Council meeting and will be in place for the application process for the newly available license. The city will be accepting applications Aug. 1–31 for consideration by the council.

The ad hoc council includes a representative holding one of each type of liquor license (retail, bar-and-grill, restaurant), members of city council and representatives from the Wyoming Liquor Division. This committee continues to work toward a deadline of Aug. 31. Part of the committee’s direction is to give a presentation of the new ordinances, and administrators plan to advertise and directly invite public stakeholders such as the Converse County Liquor Dealers Association to weigh in.

http://www.douglas-budget.com/news/article_ea135546-24ec-11e5-b2ce-d7802efbdcaf.html More...

July 6, 2015
Jackson County, OR
Jackson Co. issues $600 citation to non-compliant dispensary
http://kobi5.com/

Jackson County, Ore. -- A dispensary in Jackson County is currently operating without a necessary land use permit and now they're paying for it.

On Tuesday, Jackson County Code Enforcement officials gave Pharm to Table a $600 citation. Pharm to Table is a medical marijuana dispensary located in the 3500 block of South Pacific Highway.

"They issued us a $600 citation a few days ago for being out of compliance for their land use permits that they're in the process of adopting," said Jason Rott, the Owner and Administrator of Pharm to Table.

Kelly Madding, the Jackson County Development Services Director, said the citation was issued because the dispensary doesn't have the land use permit that's needed to operate lawfully.

In addition, at this point dispensaries haven't been given the green light yet in Jackson County.

"Jackson County's ordinance to allow medical marijuana facilities does not take effect until July 26th," said Madding.

Until then, if Pharm to Table stays open, Madding said the county will continue to cite the business $200 for every day they're open.

"Ideally they would cease to operate but if they don't, what will happen is we have the ability to cite them up to $200 a day, no more than $10,000," explained Madding.

Rott said he intends to keep his business open until he can apply for a permit through the county later this month. He said he assumed the county would be ready to allow dispensaries after May 1st. That's the date local governments' bans on dispensaries in the state expired. However when that date came and went and the county still had yet to finalize their plans, Rott took the plunge.

"We did take that risk once we got our state license to go ahead and open up," said Rott.

Rott said the decision to open without the county land use permit was a business decision. However now, he said his decision to stay open is based largely on his medical marijuana patients who rely on the dispensary for their medicine. Rott also wants to keep his workers employed. But staying open will likely cost him thousands of dollars.

"It is the cost of doing business," Rott said.

Rott has already paid for the $600 citation issued this week.

The fines will stop once Rott submits an application to get a permit after Jackson County's ordinance takes effect.

"We'll hopefully be ready to go and get that land use permit that we need," Rott said.

Rott has hired land use consultants and said they are trying to rectify the situation.

He said he's working closely with the county to become compliant.

Starting Monday, July 27th people will be able to apply for permits to open dispensaries in Jackson County.

It will cost $3,865 to get the proper, Type 3, land use permit.

County officials said the application process, from start to finish will likely take just under three months to complete. Though it's possible if a dispensary is denied a permit, there could be appeals.

People can begin applying at 10 South Oakdale when doors open at 8 o'clock in the morning on July 27th.

Madding said she expects there will probably be a line.

According to Madding, Jackson County's ordinance include the following rules:

- Medical marijuana dispensaries can't be any close than a half mile to each other.

- Dispensaries cannot be within a mile of the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics (SORCC) in White City.

- They can be no less than a thousand feet from a school.

- Medical marijuana dispensaries can also be no less than 250 feet from a park.

http://kobi5.com/news/item/jackson-co-issues-600-citation-to-non-compliant-dispensary.html#.VZqucvlVjrx More...

June 30, 2015
Phoenix, AZ
30 unlicensed contractors hammered in AZ sting
http://www.azfamily.com/

A statewide crackdown targeting unlicensed contractors has resulted in nine arrests, including two people on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors “Top Most Wanted List.”

Five more workers were slapped with civil and criminal citations and 16 others who advertised without a license on Craisglist were issued warnings.

Several other people believed to have been contracting or advertising without a license remain under investigation.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors, along with law enforcement officers from four counties, employed several tools of their own - used sting houses, targeted sweeps and proactive operations in an attempt to curb unlicensed activity in the state.

In Maricopa County, three men were arrested Tuesday, June 23, after Phoenix police set up a sting house in the 3600 block of N. 45th Pl. in Phoenix. The three men possessed outstanding warrants, were arrested and transported to Maricopa County Jail.

Derek Garcia, 22, of Goodyear, met with undercover agents at the sting house, provided an estimate of $4,800 to perform landscaping work without a license and possessed a Class 3 felony warrant.

Gregory Link, 46, of Mesa, arrived at the sting house, provided an estimate of $1,875 to install tile within the home and possessed one felony warrant and four active misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.

Charles Rattigan, 49, of Gilbert, toured the sting house, provided an estimate of $2,000 to paint the interior of the home and possessed three misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.

Also in Maricopa County, AZ ROC worked with officers from the Phoenix and Surprise police departments and arrested two of the “Top Most Wanted” by AZ ROC - Ismael Romero, 50, of Waddell, and John Parks, 25, of Gilbert.

On June 18, Surprise police arrested Romero after he was found to have four outstanding warrants, including engaging in contracting without a license, for a total bond of $17,200.

Romero was taken to Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where he was booked without incident. AZ ROC wanted Romero for contracting and advertising without a license. ROS investigators said he performs poor work, is known to take money and abandon a job without work being done and has a history of nine prior complaints with the ROC.

On Thursday, Parks was arrested after meeting with his probation officer. On Monday, Parks was indicted on charges of fraudulent schemes, theft and contracting without a license. He is being held at the Maricopa County Jail on a $10,000 bond and a hold due to a probation violation.

The charges were filed following a three-month investigation into Parks' alleged scamming of an 86-year-old woman out of $26,000 over several months. ROC investigators said Parks was reportedly making minor repairs to her roof. The estimated cost to replace the woman's entire roof is $4,000, ROC said. At the time of his arrest, Parks possessed heroin, investigators said.

In Cochise County, a sting operation was conducted in the Sierra Vista area. Charges are pending against three people. It's too early in the investigation to release any identities. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Huachuca City Police Department were assisting AZ ROC with the investigations.

In Pima County, the Sheriff's Department there arrested three people. Kevin Bennett, 47, of Tucson, was taken into custody on various charges, including an AZ ROC warrant for failure to appear. Two other people, both from Tucson, were arrested on a warrant for contracting without a license. They are Michael Gail, 35, and Guadalupe Lopez, 47.

In Yuma County, the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and City of Yuma Police Department set up sting houses in the 8700 block of S. Avenue "D," 11000 block of S. Paula Avenue and 2200 block of E. 27th Lane. It resulted in the issuances of criminal and civil citations of five men and arrest of one man.

Francisco Avalos, 42, of Yuma, was identified as a sting target. He was located and arrested by the Yuma Police Department on a charge of a failure to appear warrant related to previously contracting without a license.

The other five men - Thomas Lujan, Fernando Marquez, Adolfo Ramos, Lance Savard, and Abraham Sevilla - arrived at one of the three sting house locations and provided estimates for work ranging from $1,500 to $26,000 for pool decks, cabinets and even a detached building. Each person was cited for contracting without a license.

http://www.azfamily.com/story/29442576/30-unlicensed-contractors-hammered-in-az-sting More...

June 30, 2015
Hollister, CA
Tobacco sales ban in pharmacies formally approved
http://benitolink.com/

Hollister City Council votes 4-1 to cease the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses, which eventually will snuff out tobacco products in Hollister pharmacies.

Tobacco sales will be banned at Hollister pharmacies after the city council on June 15 voted 4-1, with Raymond Friend opposed, to approve an ordinance amendment that will halt the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses.

The council previously heard from San Benito County Public Health Officer Dr. Anju Goel, M.D., who advocated for a ban on the sale of tobacco products, which she said will provide health benefits that will significantly outweigh the loss of revenue to pharmacies.Hollister City Manager William Avera said that since tobacco sales licenses are typically applied for in November and issued in January, local pharmacies will have six to seven months to remove tobacco products from their shelves.

The ordinance details legislative findings that will be used to advocate for the tobacco sales ban, including a 2012 study that found that 1 out of 6 adults (18 percent) in San Benito County smoke, compared to 15 percent in the state of California as a whole. "Children are particularly influenced by clues suggesting that smoking is acceptable," the report says, referencing sales of tobacco in retail establishments. "By selling tobacco products, pharmacies reinforce social perceptions of smoking, convey tacit approval of tobacco use, and send a message that it is not so dangerous to smoke."

The report notes that 78 percent of independently-owned pharmacies in the state have become tobacco free, though tobacco products are still sold in 94 percent of chain drug stores. Of the seven pharmacies in San Benito County, three do not sell tobacco and one of the four that does is reviewing that policy at the corporate level.

Hollister resident Michael Nix spoke out against the ban on tobacco sales during the public comment period, saying that while he agreed that tobacco use is not beneficial to health and well being, he is "worried about (the ordinance) setting a precedence" that could result in the ban on other retail products in the future. "This council feels that it is better suited to make personal choice than its citizens," Nix said, noting that he believed pressure on pharmacies from consumers would be a better way to encourage the cessation of tobacco sales.

Friend made no comments before his vote against the ordinance.

http://benitolink.com/tobacco-sales-ban-pharmacies-formally-approved More...

June 29, 2015
Jackson, MS
Lower permit fee for Jackson mobile food trucks
http://www.msnewsnow.com/

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Call them meals on wheels, or simply food trucks. You may have seen some in the Jackson area.

These are hot ticket items in larger metro cities. Now they may flourish having to pay a one-time yearly $500.00 permit fee in the city.

It's called food on the move. The city of Jackson already has an ordinance over the food truck vendors, and now they made it a little easier for them, allowing them to move from one spot to the other and set up shop.

"We are really happy," said Councilman Tyrone Hendrix. "Yesterday we passed an ordinance to allow the food trucks here in the city of Jackson to have more access to different places."

"This allows us to roam around Jackson without having to pay a $500 food permit every time we stop," said Steve Steinbock, owner of two Tito's Taco mobile units.

These mobile food trucks are literally magnets for places like construction sites and events.

"There's no parking downtown," added Steinbock. "People typically don't want to move so this is a great concept."

Now when it comes to free enterprise competition with local restaurants, there is built in protection.

The law is we have to stay 300 feet away from any restaurant, a 360 degree radius," said Steinbock.

Steinbock owns two brightly colored trucks and he says the new ordinance is certainly helping their business. Ironically the fee charged by Jackson is not the only one required. Rolling food trucks must get permitted by a number of state and local agencies.

Our cameras were rolling when the Department of Revenue rolled up to check his permits.

How much does it cost to sell food out of the back of a truck? The fees do add up.

For instance, on top of Jackson's $500.00 permit fee yearly, The State Department of Health permit fees range from $30 up to $250.00 per year depending on what they are cooking and serving up.

http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/29354932/lower-permit-fee-for-jackson-mobile-food-trucks

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June 26, 2015
Fayetteville, NC
Business privilege license requirement ending
http://www.fayobserver.com/

As of July 1, businesses no longer need to purchase annual business privilege licenses in Fayetteville and many other cities and towns throughout North Carolina.

The state legislature last year voted to take the licensing away from local governments following complaints that the licenses - a means of taxing the businesses - were wildly inconsistent from city to city and even within individual cities. The licenses were as small as $10 for some businesses and hundreds, even thousands of dollars for others.

The license was a tool for keeping track of the types and locations of stores, commercial offices and other businesses. This helped with city planning, zoning and infrastructure management. It also was used as a source of revenue for city services.

Fayetteville as of early 2014 was taking in about $1.1 million from these fees.

http://www.fayobserver.com/news/local/business-privilege-license-requirement-ending/article_7ad7ccd3-5615-5cf2-bd39-afd1466e1598.html

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June 26, 2015
Bolivar, MO
City adopts new method for collecting business license fees
http://bolivarmonews.com/

Business owners and operators can expect to pay for their business licenses through the city a little differently going forward as the way fees collected were changed at Tuesday’s, June 23, meeting of the Board of Aldermen.

An ordinance was approved at the meeting that amended the municipal code to allow the fees of certain business licenses to be collected through the city’s Utilities Department in conjunction with water and sewer bills.

With the new collection method, the city will also be reducing the amount it collects from the fee — previously $25, the new fee will be broken down into equal installments of $2 over the course of the year.

City Administrator Darin Chappell said the new collection method could result in more revenue being collected as businesses that were previously not paying their fee will have to do so or have their utilities shut off.

He also said the city will not be paying someone as often to track down the $25 fee.

Mayor John Best said the new method for collecting fees will ensure that all Bolivar businesses are on equal ground when it comes to doing business in the city.

Under the ordinance, businesses will also have the anniversary date for renewing their licenses, a relatively automatic process under the new system, established as the month in which applied for the license, rather than a set month each year for all businesses in the city.

For businesses that do not receive a utility bill, they will continue to pay their business license fee on an annual basis.

http://bolivarmonews.com/news/city-adopts-new-method-for-collecting-business-license-fees/article_4be655ac-1b88-11e5-b5fb-ffc325197704.html

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June 24, 2015
Irvine, CA
Irvine Council Eliminates Business License Fee
http://voiceofoc.org/

The Irvine City Council Tuesday night eliminated the city’s $51 business license fee, a move that members of the council’s Republican council majority tout as standing against over-taxation by the government.

The councilman who first proposed dissolving the tax, Jeffrey Lalloway, declared it the “first time” he’s “ever heard of a city or government eliminating a tax.”

Council members voted 3-1 to undo the tax, with Mayor Steven Choi the only no vote. Councilwoman Beth Krom, who has expressed opposition to cutting the tax and is the only Democrat on council, was absent from the meeting.

Eliminating the business license fee is the latest move by the Republican council majority to steer Irvine in a more conservative direction after years of governing by a Democratic council majority.

Last month, the council repealed a living wage ordinance that requires city contractors with contracts valued at $100,000 or more to pay all their employees working in the county at a level that at least matches the lowest paid city employee.

Choi argued that slashing the business license fee would have a negligible effect on attracting businesses to Irvine while transferring a nearly $1 million burden -- the amount that the business license fee raised last fiscal year – to city residents.

At the last meeting, Lalloway’s colleagues supported eliminating the tax but not the business database program it finances, saying that it benefits city officials to know who is setting up shop in town by allowing them to make sure the businesses comply with various laws. The program costs over $600,000 to maintain.

Lalloway said the decision is Irvine’s way of making a ”major statement” to other governments to look at slashing taxes rather than adding to a “massive taxation” system.

Lalloway said that Americans in the same tax bracket as retired professional basketball star Yao Ming likely pay more in taxes than the 50 percent of personal income Ming pays to the Chinese government.

“I would hope in some way this can motivate other cities, counties, states, to look at their own internal taxing systems, and try to make it easier for the middle class,” Lalloway said.

http://voiceofoc.org/2015/06/irvine-council-eliminates-business-license-fee/

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June 24, 2015
Barnegat Township, NJ
Second-Hand Dealer Ordinance Tweaked in Barnegat
http://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com/

The Barnegat Township ordinance regulating second-hand dealers is being amended to exempt antiques shops and similar businesses from painstaking record-keeping of merchandise transactions. The amended ordinance was introduced at the June 8 township committee meeting.

The ordinance had been recommended by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office as a tool to stem the flow of illegal drugs, since thieves could steal items and then pawn them or sell them at second-hand stores for cash to buy narcotics.

Karen Barchi, owner of Bay Avenue Antiques in Barnegat Township, had been requesting changes since shortly after the ordinance was adopted late last year. She and other business owners met with township officials to see if revisions could be made.

Barchi started a petition drive at her store, in which she collected more than 500 signatures. The petition said the ordinance “places severe restrictions, record-keeping and reporting requirements on both businesses and individual owners of vintage items who hope to sell these legally owned and/or inherited items to local dealers in secondary market shops.”

“The scope of the definition of second-hand goods is much too broad and includes too many items that are not proven to be desirable commodities sought after by thieves,” the petition read. “Laws and reporting requirements are already in place for precious metals, scrap and pawn, which covers electronic and computer equipment.”

Barchi said the ordinance required her to take a photo of the seller, the item sold and a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. She then forwarded them to Barnegat Police Chief Arthur Drexler, who then sent them to a national database. That created a hardship because she would have had to document each individual item, on the same day they were received.

She had also requested that antiques stores be excluded, and she apparently got her wish as the ordinance also exempts flea markets/garage sales, thrift shops and consignment shops. At the time, Barchi said people looking to sells goods for drugs would not likely frequent her type of business. Dealers in jewelry, precious metals, coins, computers and electronics are still included.

In addition, the new ordinance would do away with a $1,000 bond and a $100 annual license. A $250 software maintenance fee remains.

The amended ordinance also allows dealers to photograph similar items together instead of individually.

“We needed to tweak it,” said Mayor Susan McCabe. “The business owners had some concerns, and I feel we have come up with a fair resolution.”

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the next meeting, on Monday, July 20, at 6:30 p.m.

“I’ll wait to make comments until then,” said Barchi.

Tony Greco, owner of Greco Jewelers and Clock Shop, said he had wished the software fee also would be eliminated.

“I’m still locked into that, and I’m sure the software company will raise that fee down the road,” he said.

http://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com/p/second-hand-dealer-ordinance-tweaked-in-barnegat/1362770 More...

June 23, 2015
Muskegon Heights, MI
Muskegon Heights passes liquor control ordinance
http://www.mlive.com/

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – Muskegon Heights has passed a city liquor control ordinance that would give it more sway over businesses with liquor licenses.

The liquor control ordinance allows the city to revoke liquor licenses for violating "state and local ordinance rules concerning health, safety, moral, conduct or public welfare," or maintaining a nuisance on the property, such as a building code violation, littering or disruptive entertainment.

The Muskegon Heights City Council on Monday, June 22 unanimously approved the ordinance.

There are 17 businesses with active liquor licenses inside the city limits, said Muskegon Heights Police Chief Lynne Gill. Three have club licenses, eight have licenses allowing them to sell hard liquor, and six have licenses to sell only beer and wine.

"Up until this point, we've had zero ordinances to control these liquor licenses," Gill said before presenting the ordinance at a committee meeting June 15.

Gill said that in Muskegon Heights and elsewhere, he's noticed some businesses selling liquor have unkempt facades, or don't pick up litter their customers leave in the street or parking lot outside.

"Those are businesses that we believe should be operating their businesses in a more community-friendly manner," he said.

If the ordinance is approved, all businesses would be entitled to a hearing with city administration, he said.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission regulates how businesses with liquor licenses operate, but a local ordinance would be a tool for the city to contact the state commission about problem businesses. An application form -- for businesses seeking new liquor licenses or transfer their licenses -- is also up for approval by the city council.

"It's about time we did something with these liquor licenses," said Councilwoman Bonnie McGlothin.

The city has recently turned its attention on businesses – this spring it also passed an ordinance to keep businesses closed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. That variance affected three businesses – the Chicken Coop restaurant, a Shell gas station and Odyssey nightclub.

The city later passed a partial variance for Chicken Coop, and a variance for Odyssey because it uses private security and doesn't have many police calls.

"The Muskegon Heights Police Department, we're not private security – we should not have to maintain order on private business properties," Gill said. "They should be maintaining peace on their private property."

Gill said he's also stepped up enforcement against businesses holding after-hour parties.

Councilwoman Kim Sims said that limiting business hours was "reactive."

"The situation you have at Chicken Coop and the Shell is nothing new," she said.

But now, she said, the city is trying to be proactive by tackling liquor ordinances before they become a problem.

Sims said the city would always prefer to work with a business before resulting to enforcement.

"We're looking to partner with our businesses and not go to those measures," she said.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2015/06/muskegon_heights_passes_liquor.html

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June 22, 2015
Noblesville, IN
Noblesville to hand out new liquor licenses
http://cbs4indy.com/

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (June 22, 2015) — Selling liquor in Noblesville just got a bit easier, thanks to new licenses to be handed out downtown.

The city recently approved a new riverfront redevelopment district, in an area surrounding the White River that includes its historic downtown square. By designating the district, it can hand out ten liquor licenses in that area to restaurants or bars.

“(They’ll) definitely help a lot of small businesses,” restaurant owner Matteo Dirosa said.

Dirosa, who opened his Italian restaurant downtown 13 years ago, found it difficult to get a license that includes hard liquor, along with beer and wine, because they’re regulated by population and only a certain number are available.

He ended up hiring and paying a whopping $50,000 for the license.

“There were not many licenses in town so we didn’t have a choice,” Dirosa said.

His story is exactly why the city made the move, saying it hopes to attract new restaurants to the west side of the White River, where a $6M park is about to be built and employers like Riverview Hospital are growing more demand.

The licenses will come at a fraction of the cost, only $1,000 each.

“It’s an exciting time for Noblesville because we’re able to take the downtown feeling across the river,” said Bob DuBois, President of the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce.

DuBois called the licenses “an added tool,” pointing out that local restaurants are in high demand in Hamilton County right now.

“People want to have (many) dining options available to them,” DuBois said.

Noblesville’s Director of Economic Development, Judi Johnson, said that the city will accept applications and that it did not expect to grow any kind of bar district, like Broad Ripple.

“It’s a requirement that it’s more of a dining and entertainment venue, not just a place that serves alcohol,” Johnson said.

Dirosa added that he already knew restaurant owners downtown who hoped to get the licenses. When he opened his business, he said there was a noticeable hit in business from customers who dined with friends that preferred mixed drinks or cocktails.

“When we purchased the license it was really a big hit because now we have a full bar,” Dirosa said.

http://cbs4indy.com/2015/06/22/noblesville-to-hand-out-new-liquor-licenses/

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June 22, 2015
Calexico, CA
Calexico aggressively seeking business license compliance
http://www.ivpressonline.com

CALEXICO — The city has launched an "aggressive" effort to collect outstanding business license fees from hundreds of businesses that are delinquent.

Since the start of the year, businesses not in compliance were notified that they had 90 days to pay 100 percent of their delinquent fees as well as any penalties, or face administrative action.

Of the existing 2,667 businesses operating within the city, 670 were delinquent on their businesses license fees as of Tuesday, said City Manager Richard Warne. Yet, the percentage of delinquent businesses is less than in years past.

"The city has collected more (license fees) this year than any other previous year," he said, noting that only about 30 to 40 percent of businesses had been operating with a license before.

Compliance letters have been issued to businesses both found within the city's limits, as well as those found outside but that perform work within the city. The license fees themselves are based on the type of business and estimated gross profits.

Starting in March, the city has issued administrative citations to those businesses that have ignored repeated requests for payment.

The first citation carries a $150 penalty, which rises with each subsequent citation.

"We have issued some businesses three citations," Warne said.

The city is also looking into whether it may have to eventually start revoking the licenses of those delinquent businesses and possibly close them down for failing to comply. But, before taking such an action, the city would work with its city attorney to determine the best course of action.

"Everyone will be given a reasonable amount of time," Warne said. "But no one without a license can operate their business in Calexico."

An added challenge for the city is determining which businesses no longer are operating and need to be purged from its delinquency list. Such an effort is expected to prove time-consuming, especially in the case of the city's hundreds of swap meet vendors, who tend to operate on a itinerant basis.

Of the 679 businesses operating in Calexico without a current business license, 225 of those were identified as swap meet vendors. Established brick-and-mortar locations account for 302 businesses operating without a license, while 152 of those not in compliance come from outside the city.

Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at jmorales@ivpressonline.com

http://www.ivpressonline.com/news/local/calexico-aggressively-seeking-business-license-compliance/article_e2183f06-3e65-533b-8ba8-3631df38053a.html

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June 16, 2015
Stevens Point, WI
City delays vote on refunds for liquor licenses
http://www.stevenspointjournal.com/

STEVENS POINT – Business owners looking to save money on the city's most expensive liquor license will have to wait at least a month before a refund program could take effect.

City Council members postponed action this week on a measure that would refund most of the fees for some liquor licenses in an attempt to draw new businesses to town. Money from license purchases goes to the city's general fund, so the grant program would not draw from other taxpayer dollars.

State law allows Stevens Point 55 beer, wine and liquor licenses that cost $500 a year, and all are being used by existing businesses. The city is allowed to provide up to five reserve licenses. The reserve liquor licenses cost $10,000 each, and the proposed refund program would offer reimbursement up to $9,500.

Businesses would be required to derive 51 percent of their revenue from nonalcohol sales to qualify for the grant, which caused some controversy among council members and members of the public.

Barb Jacob, a Stevens Point resident and owner of Big Hunchies Roadhouse at 2408 Division St., said the 51 percent requirement doesn't give bars and taverns a "fair shake" at qualifying.

Council member Shaun Morrow argued that Stevens Point already has a lot of bars and not enough places to eat, and said the 51 percent requirement will help attract the latter.

Other council members were reluctant to eliminate opportunities for bars and taverns with good business ideas.

Mayor Mike Wiza said City Council members would decide whether to give the grant to a new business. Some council members suggested the city prioritize businesses looking to renovate existing structures instead of building from the ground up.

Comptroller Corey Ladick said council members should keep an open mind to both renovation and new buildings because any amount of new construction helps the city's operational budget.

Ladick said the more new growth Stevens Point sees in a year, the more money the city will be able to put into wages and city services.

The council is scheduled to take up the matter again at a July meeting.

http://www.stevenspointjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/06/16/city-delays-vote-refunds-liquor-licenses/28822195/

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June 16, 2015
West Palm Beach, FL
State, BBB, urge consumers to check business licenses before hiring
http://protectingyourpocket.blog.palmbeachpost.com/

Is the building contractor you’re thinking of hiring licensed? Along with a couple of dozen other categories and occupations, such as those who sell alcoholic beverages, yachts and real estate, building contractors must have a state license.

As part of Unlicensed Activity Awareness Week June 15 – 19, the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation are reminding Floridians to thoroughly research professionals and businesses prior to hiring and to report suspected unlicensed individuals. Unlicensed activity is against the law —BBB and DBPR take unlicensed activity very seriously because it threatens the safety of Florida’s consumers as well as takes away business from licensed professionals throughout the state.

Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual offers to perform or performs services that require a state license and the individual does not hold the required license. Florida law sets specific rules and guidelines for obtaining professional licensure, and the people who have met these requirements are held to professional standards.

“Choosing the right professional, a licensed professional, is one of the most essential aspects when deciding which business you choose,” said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. “Hiring an unqualified, unlicensed professional can lead to many headaches and lost money. Don’t be a victim! Hire a licensed professional!”

“Unlicensed individuals often target the elderly and other vulnerable people with high-pressure sales tactics,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “They also may lack the proper qualifications, perform substandard work or neglect to finish a project. The best way to avoid becoming the victim of an unlicensed activity scam is to verify licenses and check references before you hire a professional.”

Both BBB and DBPR have online resources to educate consumers on how to report unlicensed activity.

http://protectingyourpocket.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/06/16/state-bbb-urge-consumers-to-check-business-licenses-before-hiring/

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June 15, 2015
Brandon, SD
City-issued liquor license to stay at $125K
http://www.argusleader.com/

City-issued on-sale liquor licenses will retain the $125,000 market value placed on them three years ago.

Following a short discussion on June 1, a 1-5 Brandon City Council vote stopped any action on Ordinance #528-Setting Liquor License Fee. Alderwoman Jo Hausman was the only councilperson to support lowering the fee, although Alderman Roger Brooks seconded the motion.

City Administrator Bryan Read gathered a variety of city-issued on-sale liquor license fees, and said they ranged from $1,200 up to $130,000. The highest fee, he said, belonged to Spearfish, who chose to auction off its lone license. Read said the Spearfish license received five bids, with the highest bid coming in at $130,000.

A $20,000 fee was listed on the proposed ordinance that would change the fee.

“I couldn’t vote for that. It’s way too low,” Alderwoman Barb Fish said.

Councilpersons Mindy Hansen, Jon McInerny and Blaine Jones also favored making no change to the fee.

“The ink’s barely dry from the last time we changed this,” Jones said.

Two Brandon bar owners – Mark Fonder of Double D Saloon and Dave Halverson of Tailgators – both purchased their respective businesses based on the $125,000 liquor license price.

“When I bought Double D, it was based on $125,000, so I would take a hit (in the value of the business),” Fonder said.

Rob Horrocks, who manages 212 The Boiling Point, also owned by Fonder, said there’s no need to change the fee. “The community kind of demands it,” he said, adding none of the establishments have waiting lines going out the door.

Charles “Mac” McNamara, of the Brandon VFW, also does not want to see the fee lowered.

“If we cheapen the liquor license we’ll cheapen the business,” he said. “If you value the liquor license cheaply, you’re going to get cheap people buying the liquor.”

Three years ago, the Brandon City Council increased the price of city-issued on-sale liquor licenses from $8,785 to $125,000.

But since that time, there’s been little to no interest in the three available licenses.

Until July 1, 2012, a city-issued on-sale liquor license was priced at $8,785 (based on $1 per resident). Alderman Bob Bruning led the charge at that time to increase the price, saying Brandon’s licenses have a higher market value than $8,785.

Bruning felt the price should be comparable to the $190,000 fee Sioux Falls charges.

In 2012, the $190,000 fee equated to $1.25 per Sioux Falls resident.

Based on Brandon’s 2014’s population total of 9,681, at $125,000, a city-issued on-sale liquor license equates to $12.91 per resident.

The last on-sale license issued by the city went to Adrenaline Sports Bar and Victory Lanes. That license, which was returned to the city last year, was priced at the $1 per person rate of $8,785.

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/brandon/2015/06/09/city-issued-liquor-license-stay/28558815/

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June 10, 2015
Carson City, NV
Nevada Legislature: Compromise tax plan hearing Thursday
http://www.nevadaappeal.com/

With less than two weeks left in the regular 2015 Nevada Legislative session, the compromise tax plan designed to balance the state budget could become public today, despite not getting a hearing until Thursday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office rolled out a version of the plan last week getting rid of the complicated 30-category Business License Fee ranging from $400 to $4 million a year that numerous businesses objected to.

In its place was a business license tax of up to $500 for corporations and $300 for all other businesses filing with the secretary of state and a higher Modified Business Tax. In addition, it includes a “commerce tax” levied on the revenues of Nevada’s larger businesses that allows those businesses to offset 50 percent of what they pay in MBT.

There still were objections from lobbyists and lawmakers, who argued part of that proposal looked too much like the gross receipts tax rejected by voters last November.

The vehicle for the new plan is apparently Assembly Bill 464 by Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson and Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, both R-Las Vegas.

The proposal will be presented Thursday at 3 p.m. in a joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.

It was supposed be rolled out Tuesday but those on the inside say details were still being worked out in an effort to get enough support in the Assembly to pass it by a two-thirds margin.

A number of business organizations including the Retail Association of Nevada want to put more emphasis on the existing Modified Business Tax and less on any tax that applies to gross revenue.

While several in the know say it will do that, they say some part of the plan must at least open the door to getting revenue from those Nevada and foreign businesses that currently pay little or nothing.

Whatever the plan does, it needs to generate some $500 million in order to balance the governor’s proposed $7.4 billion General Fund budget.

http://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/government/16416018-113/nevada-legislature-compromise-tax-plan-hearing-thursday

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June 9, 2015
Friday Harbor, WA
Town changes business license rules
http://sanjuanislander.com/

Whether you are a new business or receiving a notice in June that it is time to renew, you should be aware of changes to Friday Harbor Municipal Code, Chapter 5.04. The Town amended its Business Licensing Program by passage of Ordinance No. 1563 on June 4, 2015. The Town recommends that businesses review FHMC Chapter 5.04 to insure legal conduct.

The business license year, or the time period that a business license is active, is amended to commence from April 1 to March 31.

For a new Business: A complete application is required before the planned date for commencing business activities.

For an existing Business: License renewals are due by the expiration of the current business license on June 30th. If the fee for renewal is not paid prior to expiration of the business license year, the license shall be null and void after that date, and your business shall be an unlicensed one.

The basic fee for licensing is now a flat rate of $42.00 per year. For a new Business: Town has eliminated the practice of reducing the fee at the rate of $3.50 for each calendar month which has transpired in the license year for new licensees. Licenses issued after October 1st and before March 31st of any license year shall be $21.00 for the remainder of the license year. For an existing Business: Town will reduce the fee for licensing by $10.50 for current renewals with valid licenses through June 2015, in order to accommodate the shorter license year.

Renewal notices will be mailed to existing businesses the week of June 8, 2015. Businesses known to be operating in Town which fail to renew their license in a timely fashion will receive a second notice stating that they are unlicensed.

The $21.00 penalty fee for late renewal has been eliminated. All businesses operating without a license are subject to Class IV civil infractions as may be imposed by FHMC Chapter 1.18.

Engaging in business includes activities occurring “over-the water” or “staged” within the public right-of-way. Town has expanded the Business License Program definitions to clarify that:

“Over-the-water” means engaging in business or staging for business over the water under the jurisdiction of the Town as defined in Chapter 19.04 FHMC.

“Staging” means business or the process of activity planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling business resources in Town. For additional information regarding the Town Business License Program, contact the Town Clerk at 360.378.2810 or refer to FHMC Chapter 5.04 available at www.fridayharbor.org.

http://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/town-of-friday-harbor/19139/town-changes-business-license-rules

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June 8, 2015
Trenton, NJ
Caution needed when penalizing Trenton businesses
http://www.nj.com/

T.C. Nelson is paying dearly for someone else's sins.

And it all has to do with the way his city's liquor license laws operate.

Nelson's popular restaurant, Trenton Social, is facing suspension of its liquor license for a whopping 100 days, all because of violations the club's previous owner incurred five years ago.

In an earlier incarnation, the bar/restaurant at 449 S. Broad St. went through some tumultuous times: brawls, liquor sales to minors, noisy crowds and other nuisances.

In March of 2010, police were called twice in 20 minutes, leaving three people arrested and one loaded handgun seized.

Roland Pott, who owned the license at what was then Tikizia, found himself facing 35 separate charges. The penalty for 19 of them: revocation of the license.

This was the grim reality Nelson inherited when he came on the scene, and the grimmer reality he's living with now.

"We're kind of forced to pay the piper on these charges, because you don't get a clean slate when a license transfers," Nelson said last month, after he and city officials arrived at an accommodation of sorts.

As part of a settlement to prevent the loss of his license, the restaurateur agreed to a 100-day suspension spread out over two years.

If the deal is approved by an administrative law judge and the director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the license would be suspended for 50 Mondays in the first year, and 50 Saturdays in the second year.

Because of Nelson's proven track record as a good business owner, the city allowed him to pick the days himself, and also granted an exemption on three days when events were already scheduled.

But because 70 percent of Trenton Social's sales are bar-related, Nelson says he has no option but to close on those dry days.

That won't affect just his bottom line, but also the lives of workers – kitchen staff and clean-up crews – who stand to lose shifts.

All this is coming at a time when Trenton Social has begun to attract residents and visitors, who are flocking to events such as the Pork Roll Festival and the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market.

It's commendable that the city was able to be flexible when it came to the license violations, but it still seems counterproductive to punish a thriving enterprise for offenses it had no part in. Think what a chilling message that sends to anyone considering doing business in – and with – the city.

We'd say it's time to revisit the liquor license policies, keeping those considerations in mind.

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/caution_needed_when_penalizing_trenton_businesses.html

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June 3, 2015
Bolivar, MO
City looks at new way to collect business license fees
http://bolivarmonews.com/

Mayor John Best wants members of the public, including business owners, to provide feedback, on a potential change to how the city collects business license fees.

The Board of Aldermen discussed the proposed change, which would tack on an additional $2 per month to a business’ utility bill, at its Tuesday, May 26, meeting.

City Administrator Darin Chappell brought the proposal before the board earlier this year, saying it will help improve how the city collects the fee, increase the number of businesses actually paying it and “put all businesses on the same level playing field.”

All brick and mortar businesses that have a utility bill with the city will have their business license fee applied in a monthly format on their utility bill. The cost will be $2 per month, in addition to the utility bill.

Non-brick and mortar businesses, such as contractors, will still be able to purchase a business license at a cost of $25 per year. The proposed changes also include having businesses renew their licenses on their anniversary date, rather than all businesses in Bolivar renewing at the same time.

Best said he would like to see businesses provide feedback at the board’s next work session meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at City Hall.

“I would like the opportunity for people to express their opinions,” Best said.

Chappell said it would be ideal to adopt the changes at the June 9 meeting but if the board wants to wait a month, the city can postpone collecting the fee and give businesses a month.

About $20,000 in revenue is brought in annually through business licenses, but Chappell has told the board there are a number of businesses that do not pay their business license fee. By connecting it to utility bills, he said the revenue could increase, even though the fee amount is $1 less.

In conjunction with Best seeking feedback from businesses at the board’s next meeting, new rules governing how members of the public wishing to address the board were adopted at Tuesday’s meeting.

Alderman Thane Kifer had presented a proposed set of guidelines to the other aldermen earlier this month. See accompanying story for more information about those rules.

http://bolivarmonews.com/news/city-looks-at-new-way-to-collect-business-license-fees/article_e5f7b91e-0586-11e5-8b61-17a1c5c820bf.html

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June 2, 2015
Langley, WA
Business licenses added, changed in Langley
http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/

A new type of business license is available in Langley, and the fees for existing licenses have changed.

Director of Community Planning Michael Davolio presented the changes June 1 to the Langley City Council, which unanimously voted to waive the first reading and approve them. Davolio implemented a seasonal license that lasts 90 days and increased the temporary license from seven to 10 days.

Adding business license categories creates more flexibility for merchants. Previously, Langley only offered a seven-day or year-long license.

“That’s not the greatest solution for someone who’s only going to be in business for two or three months,” said Debbie Mahler, city clerk and treasurer.

The annual business license fee increased from $50 to $60 for a business outside the city that’s conducting business in Langley. Temporary vendors will pay $30, up from $25 plus, if requested, a $10 renewal fee.

Davolio said he made the seasonal license last 90 days to eventually cover and replace the recently instituted mobile food vendor license. The mobile food vendor season was established between Memorial Day and Labor Day, late May to early September.

http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/305900201.html

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May 29, 2015
Key West, FL
Key West looking at raising the cost of business licenses
http://www.keysnet.com/

Businesses across Key West, from massage therapists to gas stations, might see a 5 percent increase in the local business tax.

The proposal is up for a second reading at Tuesday's Key West City Commission meeting and would result in an estimated $65,000 increase in annual revenue, according to city documents.

City Manager Jim Scholl said the additional money would help cover expenses in the city's licensing department and other general-fund expenses. The tax hasn't been raised since 2009.

"There's [consumer price index] increases every year and we haven't done an adjustment for increased costs," Scholl said.

He said the city projects revenue of $1.3 million from the business tax this fiscal year. Payment is due by Sept. 30 of each year.

The tax varies depending on the type of business. For example, a 5 percent increase would increase the fee to $281.14, up from $267.75, for gas stations. Bars with entertainment would pay $203.96, up from $194.25.

Nate Thomas owns Key West Daily Cycle, a bicycle rental company at the Hyatt Key West Resort on Front Street. He isn't happy about any sort of increase.

"They must need [the revenue] for the lawyers' fees," Thomas said, alluding to a $900,000 city payment to the family of Charles Eimers, a Michigan tourist who died in police custody days after a police stop in 2013.

The settlement ended a lawsuit filed by the family against the city and several police officers. The city's insurance covered the payment.

Also Tuesday, Scholl plans to give the commission an update on design plans for a Truman Waterfront park. Asked why the process has taken so long, Scholl said there were a lot of changes over time to what the scope of the project would be.

"The plans are at 90 percent. We're looking at the first phase, which will be mostly infrastructure," he said. "That will start by the end of the calendar year."

The U.S. Navy deeded the 33-acre waterfront, at the end of Southard Street, to the city in 2002 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Over the years, various proposals have been made for its use, including a marina, amphitheater, promenade, sports fields and stables for the Police Department's horses.

The City Commission meets at Old City Hall on Greene Street at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

http://www.keysnet.com/2015/05/29/502936/key-west-looking-at-raising-the.html

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May 29, 2015
Riverton,Wyoming
City council approves 31 liquor license renewal applications
http://dailyranger.com

The City of Riverton approved 31 liquor license renewal applications in February. The city is due to receive about $39,500 from application fees in addition to an unknown amount from future sales tax revenue.

In accordance with state statute requirements, the city council gave the OK for 22 retail liquor licenses, four club liquor licenses and six restaurant liquor licenses. One license to the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club was approved but later removed after the club status was voided.

The Wyoming Department of Revenue Liquor Division said during a work session with the city council April 14 that in cases where the department cannot approve a license, it is mostly because the club is not recognized for different reasons.

"Clubs are struggling," said chief of enforcement Tom Montoya.

He said many clubs are low on membership and others have a problem following the regulations. The liquor division handles roughly 1,300 licenses in the state, Montoya said.

"Our role is not in the approval process," he said to the city council. "Our role is you have a complete and true application ... You can really think of us as one of your tools."

In their presentation, Montoya and senior agent Kelly Hunt explained to the council the different license types and some of the common problems the department encounters.

"We don't find an enormous amount of violations," Hunt said.

Some minor violations include expired licenses and licenses not posted for the public to view.

Types of licenses

The full retail licenses are the most popular, because they are the least restrictive, most flexible, and allow a bar a package store or both, they explained. In Riverton, full retail licenses encompass Cedar Bar at 413 E. Fremont Ave., Walmart stores at 1733 N. Federal Blvd., The Depot at 110 S. First St., the Holiday Inn at 900 E. Sunset Drive, and River City Bar at 910 S. Federal Blvd.

The license that gives the "biggest headaches," Montoya said, is the limited retail liquor license.

Applicants have to meet stringent guidelines to qualify. The license can be given to a fraternal organization, veterans group, gold club, social club or political subdivision. The license is inexpensive but does not allow liquor to leave the establishment. Sales of liquor are for members and guests only. Riverton's only limited retail license is the Riverton Country Club.

A large source of the trouble in this license is who qualifies as "accompanied guests," Montoya said, because state statue does not define that phrase, so it is interpreted differently by organizations.

Other licenses include restaurant, bar and grill, and resort. The liquor division also has requirements for dispensing rooms.

The licenses belong to the city and county, which can prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic and malt beverages. Businesses can appeal licenses that are not renewed through district court.

http://dailyranger.com/story.php?story_id=18037

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May 23, 2015
Cheyenne, Wyoming
City may get another retail liquor license
http://www.wyomingnews.com/

CHEYENNE - The city of Cheyenne's population is growing, and the choice of establishments for locals to grab a cold beer or cocktail could soon grow as well.

The Wyoming Department of Revenue's Liquor Division likely will soon issue the city a new retail liquor license, which could result in the opening of a new bar and/or package liquor store.

The city currently has 36 retail liquor licenses, which allow for alcohol sales both on and off premises. All 36 of those licenses have been distributed.

"At this time, the city doesn't have any retail liquor licenses available," City Clerk Carol Intlekofer said.

So if a new bar and/or package liquor establishment wants to open up shop in the city, the owner would have to buy an existing license, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The number of liquor licenses the state allows cities to distribute is based on population totals. As populations grow, the state Liquor Division issues more licenses.

To be eligible for one additional retail liquor license, Cheyenne's population must exceed 60,500. A recent report from the state's Economic Analysis Division puts the city's population at 62,845.

In light of this population report, Intlekofer said she is "hopeful that the city will at least be able to receive authorization for one additional retail (license)."

Tom Montoya, a compliance manager with the state Liquor Division, said he will "really start crunching the (population) numbers next week" and issue cities new liquor licenses accordingly.

Who ultimately gets the potential new license, and when, is out of his hands, he said. "The (Cheyenne) City Council has total control over that."

The council will consider a plan Tuesday regarding what to do if the city is issued an additional license.

The plan involves holding off on issuing the license for a period of time to allow anyone who might be interested a chance to apply. Once the city has a pool of applicants, the council would then decide who should get the new license.

Local economist Dick O'Gara said giving businesses access to additional liquor licenses is good for the economy.

"It would be a positive thing for Cheyenne," he said.

"Because the state's liquor licensing system is convoluted and based on population figures, rather than demand and the free market, we have a demand (for licenses) that's greater than the available supply.

"Not having these licenses readily available to meet demand has definitely hurt the economy. (Additional licenses) help give the consumers more choices, more places to shop and keep people from going elsewhere. And that's a good thing for the local economy."

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2015/05/24/news/20local_05-24-15.txt#.VWidaM9Vjrx

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May 21, 2015
North Bend, WA
Business licenses and badges required for North Bend solicitors
http://snovalleystar.com/

The city of North Bend requires all those engaged in business within the city limits to obtain a city business license.

Additionally, a solicitor’s license is required for those engaged in the door-to-door sales of for-profit items, and any person engaged in such activity is required to wear a photo identification badge issued by the city upon their person in a visible location at all times.

If you choose to answer the door to a solicitor who is unwilling to present a copy of their business license, fails to show a photo identification badge or causes you concern or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, call the Snoqualmie/North Bend Police Department by calling 9-1-1.

http://snovalleystar.com/2015/05/21/business-licenses-and-badges-required-for-north-bend-solicitors

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May 21, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
Business License Fees Update
http://www.slcgov.com/buslicense

Salt Lake City has approved an increase in business license fees which went into effect June10, 2014.

Click here to see the new fees. More...
May 19, 2015
Columbia City, SC
Columbia councilman wants some nonprofits to pay a business license fee
http://www.thestate.com/

A Columbia City Council member wants the city to charge business license taxes to some nonprofit businesses, but council members say they have a lot of questions that need answers before they’ll consider a policy change.

In response to the city’s continued search for revenue sources, Councilman Moe Baddourah is proposing that nonprofit businesses that compete directly with for-profit businesses should be charged for business licenses. Charitable organizations are currently exempt from business license taxes.

“I’m really trying to find ways to generate revenue and make the system a little bit more fair when it comes to business license fees,” Baddourah said.

He noted specifically that operations run by hospital systems – such as physicians’ offices, gift shops, cafeterias, florists and laundry services – compete directly with for-profit businesses offering similar services.

Other council members agreed Baddourah’s proposal is worth considering as a potential way to bring in more revenue. But, they said, there are far too many gray areas and as-yet-unanswered questions to proceed quickly with any sort of policy decision.

For one, Mayor Steve Benjamin asked, what data is there to show the financial impact on the city if those currently exempt non-profit businesses were to start paying the tax? City staff does not yet have figures to show how much revenue the city could stand to gain.

Benjamin also expressed concern about what he anticipates to be a lack of support from hospital leaders as well as, he said, a need to consider the uncompensated services, such as treatment to homeless individuals, that hospitals provide before charging them a tax.

Another question raised by Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine is what other non-profits could be affected by the proposed change. Church-run daycares, for instance, are currently exempt from business license fees, but some could have to pay the tax if Baddourah’s ordinance amendment were adopted as drafted. Other entities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill also could be affected.

Council has the flexibility to decide whether it would want to include businesses such as those in a policy change. But still, council members pointed out, those questions will take some time to answer.

“There’s been a lot of discussions around hospitals, but the hospitals are only one category under all of our business licenses,” Devine said. “And you can’t target the hospitals without dealing with other nonprofits if we decide to go this route.”

In recent years, Spartanburg and Greenwood have considered similar changes to their business license fee policies but instead worked out agreements to receive alternative payments from some nonprofits in lieu of taxes.

Baddourah, Devine and Councilman Sam Davis will serve on an ad hoc committee to continue to explore the issue.

http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article21444729.html

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May 19, 2015
Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
VI Businesses Owe $8.5 Million in Expired License Fees, DLCA to Embark on Collection Effort
http://viconsortium.com/

ST. CROIX — The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) Commissioner nominee is notifying the public of action his department will soon be taking to recoup some $8.5 million owed to the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) by businesses in the territory that have failed to reapply for their business licenses, yet continue to operate.

DLCA’s Commissioner nominee Devin Carrington, through a press release issued late Monday, said the $8.5 million owed to the GVI was uncovered through a recently-conducted audit of delinquent business licenses in the territory. Carrington said all businesses operating in the islands do so after obtaining an annual license from DLCA. Clearly stated on each license, he said, is the start and expiration date of said license. Failing to renew on time is accompanied by monetary penalties to be paid along with the license renewal fee.

“It is completely unacceptable for any business to think that it is appropriate to continue operations without a current license and at the same time not pay fees legally owed to the Government of the Virgin Islands,” Carrington said.

Carrington said DLCA hasn’t been diligent in its efforts to regulate business license renewals, and the task of doing so effectively, pose an even greater challenge for the department because it has lost employees over the years as a result of the territory’s financial condition.

Nonetheless, Carrington said it’s the businesses’ responsibility to renew their licenses yearly, adding that DLCA will soon embark on an effort to collect monies owed.

“Especially in these times, where the government is financially strapped for cash, it is only right that businesses that are granted a license to make money in the Virgin Islands, pay their fair share to the Government of the Virgin Islands,” Carrington said.

http://viconsortium.com/featured/vi-businesses-owe-8-5-million-in-expired-license-fees-dlca-to-embark-on-collection-effort/

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May 11, 2015
Carson City, NV
Big day for Nevada governor's proposed business license fee
http://www.mynews4.com

Carson City, Nev. There were several twists and turns regarding Governor Brian Sandoval's proposed business license fee.

The first and most important aspect was Senate Bill 252 survived a key deadline. It was supposed to be heard before the Assembly Committee on Taxation on Tuesday, May 12, 2015; however, the item was pulled without reason on Monday, the day before. But the bill received a waiver. The Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Rick Combs, explained this means the bill will survive for the rest of the session. Without the waiver, the bill would have faced another key deadline on Friday.

The Governor's proposal also received support from 20 Nevada Sheriff's, prosecutors and police chief's. The law enforcement professionals are part of a national movement called, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids." The group is publishing a paper this week entitled, "I'm the guy you pay later." Sheriff Kenny Furlong is among those who is supporting the effort. He said, "Those people who fail at education are very often the ones we see coming through our gates, and it's wrong." He added, "We sit down with inmates and we talk about the causes of the circumstances you know, why they're in custody and too often the immediate response is education."

The are other measures to support increased funding of education being floated in the Nevada Assembly. Furlong said he didn't have a "favorite" other than to say the Governor's plan supports early education and he believes it will make a difference. He said, "It's the right thing to do. You don't create a savings account or portfolio or retirement in one day. You create something that is long-term."

The brief talks about savings for taxpayers through supporting early education. It said, A $10 million dollar investment in preschool could reduce Nevada’s prisoners by nearly 1,300 each year and save $28 million per year in corrections costs.”

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May 7, 2015
Pelham, AL
Pelham creates business license allowing food trucks to operate in city
AL.com

The Pelham City Council tonight approved changes to municipal laws that allow food trucks to operate through the creation of a business licensing procedure for them.

With Councilwoman Karyl Rice absent, the remaining city leaders on the board voted in favor of allowing mobile food vendors under a change in the proposed ordinance resulting from questions and discussion at the April 20 meeting.

After Councilman Ron Scott at the previous meeting questioned whether the mayor's office should have sole authority to grant certain approvals and exceptions to business license requirements, tonight's proposed ordinance included an appeals process.

The ordinance added the option for applicants to appeal a denial by the mayor's office to the City Council.

The council voted to suspend the rules in order to immediately pass the proposed ordinance, rather than holding another reading at the next meeting.

The proposed law defines a "mobile food unit" as a "self-contained vehicle, trailer or pushcart that serves prepared foods or prepares and serves food in various locations of the City." The annual business license for the units would be $100 plus .075 percent of gross receipts between $100,000 and $15 million.

Other rules included in the new law for mobile food vendors:

- The vendors can operate in districts zoned non-residential unless temporarily operating for specific events at a church that is zoned residential.

- They cannot operate for more than three consecutive days at the same location unless the mayor grants permission for special events.

- Hours of operation are limited to between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. unless the mayor allows extended time for special events.

- Vendors cannot operate within 200 feet of the main entrance to the nearest restaurant during that business' posted hours of operation.

- No vendor can operate on more than two individual sites in the city per day.

- No more than one vendor can operate on the same site each day unless the mayor grants approval for an exception related to festivals, celebrations and other special events.

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May 5, 2015
Darlington, South Carolina
Darlington City Council OKs standardized business license form
http://www.scnow.com/

DARLINGTON, S.C. — The Darlington City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a standardized application form for business licenses.

Councilwoman Dyan Cohen told the council that for transient businesses like contractors, having a standard document would speed up the application process.

“Companies that work in different localities have had to fill out a new, different license for each municipality, city, county, whoever requires businesses licenses,” Cohen said. “This got to be a burden for them. That is why this uniform business license form came into being. This allows them to do just one application and if the city they are working in accepts this application, it is much less of a burden for them.”

Cohen said the city did not necessarily have to transition to using only the standardized form but could accept it from businesses that did use it. She said around 70 cities, towns and municipalities across South Carolina use the form.

City Manager Howard Garland agreed with Cohen.

“We can offer this on our website, the business can download it, fill it out and send it to us,” Garland said. “That cuts down on the confusion for businesses and contractors coming in. The biggest advantage is a familiarity and convenience factor for the businesses.”

The council voted unanimously for the adoption.

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority, an item on the council’s agenda that has brought much community interest in years past, surfaced again on the eve of a new fiscal year.

Last year, the council approved a $16,000 budget item for the transportation entity, a figure much lower than the authority’s executive director, Chuck MacNeil, asked for. Tuesday night, MacNeil asked for $25,000 to help keep the struggling system afloat.

“We are a public agency,” MacNeil said. “We are able to access some federal grants and some state money to match the federal funds, but we do rely on other funds to make up the deficit.”

MacNeil said the transportation system handled more commuters in 2014-15 than in the previous fiscal year. The DART bus, which runs on a loop in the city of Darlington, saw an increase of almost 500 riders. The Darlington-Florence commuter bus saw an increase of more than 1,400 riders.

After MacNeil’s presentation, Mayor Tony Watkins asked the council to approve his suggestion of $10,000 to give the authority for 2015-16. Councilman James Cooper, made a motion to amend the amount to $12,000. The council voted to include the amended amount in the budget.

Councilman Wayne Chapman was the sole person to vote against the motion.

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May 5, 2015
Birmingham, AL
Certain Birmingham businesses get business license fee cut
WVTM 13

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Beginning January 1st, 2016, some Birmingham companies will get a break on their yearly business license fees.

Attorneys, accountants, doctors, optometrists, real estate appraisers, veterinarians, surgeons, health practitioners, engineers or surveyors, court reporters, insurance adjusters, and manufacturers/fabricators will benefit from the fee break.

City leaders said these businesses received the highest fees compared to other businesses in Birmingham.

The City Council recently approved the new business license fee schedule. The amount charged will drop by 50 percent.

Officials said the tax amount went up in 2007 during former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's time in office. Leaders said that increase was in place to support the city's multi-purpose facility, which was never built, and keep the city financially stable.

The Council said it hopes the cut will bring in more businesses and allow Birmingham to compete with nearby cities.

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April 23, 2015
Salem, MA
Growth strategy: Seasonal liquor licenses boost Salem restaurant business
The Salem News

It’s a longstanding practice in this city to issue seasonal alcohol licenses to start-up restaurants, and in recent years, it has become more common for Salem liquor licensing officials to grant seasonal full liquor permits for established downtown eateries that already serve beer and wine year round.

It’s a growth strategy that takes advantage of the fact that seasonal licenses, unlike annual permits, are not limited by state quotas based on population. The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission still needs to sign off, but the licenses are granted at the discretion of local licensing authorities based on determined need.

It’s legal to hold both types of licenses simultaneously. The fees are nominal for small-business owners when compared to the tens of thousands of dollars annual licenses usually fetch on the market. The one drawback is the fact the seasonal license is only good from April 1 to Jan. 15.

”I think it’s helped bring back the downtown,” said Licensing Board Chairman Bob St. Pierre. “We’ve been able to develop Salem as a result of this.”

The Lobster Shanty, a longtime seasonal business on Front Street, comes in every spring for a seasonal liquor license. A restaurant and snack bar at Olde Salem Greens also utilize seasonal permits. But St. Pierre cited a few examples of well-established restaurants that got their start on seasonal beer and wine licenses, such as Salem Beer Works on Derby Street.

For years, he said, the popular restaurant came in every spring for a seasonal license before finally purchasing an annual one. But then Beer Works wanted to serve mixed drinks as well, so the restaurant sought and obtained a seasonal full liquor permit.

Once the board allowed one license, it couldn’t very well say no to another restaurant in a similar predicament. St. Pierre said that with some 90-odd businesses in Salem holding alcohol licenses of different kinds, the ability to expand drink offerings helps them survive in a competitive environment that caters to thousands upon thousands of tourists each year.

City Councilor Bill Legault agrees. He says it’s an effective strategy that has helped the local restaurant industry thrive.

In 2011, without any regular licenses available, the city tried to help some restaurants with seasonal permits by filing a bill with the state Legislature to allow those restaurants licenses to be converted to annual permits for a fee. This was after the city had already obtained several licenses for the downtown via special legislation.

Earlier this month, a new pizzeria — Bambolina — slated to open in June on Derby Street next to the Salem Wax Museum, was approved by the Licensing Board for seasonal beer and wine. At that same meeting, the board also signed off on seasonal full liquor for the Flying Saucer Pizza Company.

That pizzeria, owned by Steve Feldmann and Marie Feldmannova, already serves beer and wine via a regular license the shop obtained when it opened its doors in 2012 next-door to its sister eatery Gulu-Gulu Cafe on Essex Street.

“We wanted to do more (and) definitely felt like we were missing a market opportunity,” said Feldmann, explaining that they’d like the opportunity to be able to offer some mixed drinks to pizzeria patrons. “We found that we needed ... more of a level playing field with other restaurants.”

When the couple opened Gulu-Gulu eight years ago, there were no liquor licenses available, recalls Feldmann. So instead, they sought a seasonal beer and wine license from the city. After struggling through the first year, he said, they were able to secure an annual license.

And when they opened up their otherworldly pizza joint next-door three years later, it was shortly after Upper Crust Pizzeria went out of business at the same spot. Upper Crust actually turned back its beer and wine license to the city and Feldmann was then able to obtain that license.

Seasonal permits are one way for new operators to get their “foot in the door,” he said.

Those other restaurants Feldmann was referring to include Naumkeag Ordinary, located on the other side of the pizzeria and which holds a seasonal full liquor permit, according to state records. Naumkeag opened in 2013.

Those records also show 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar and Longboards Cafe & Bar — next to each other on Pickering Wharf — both holding seasonal licenses. Antonio Bettencourt first opened 62 seven years ago.

The development strategy doesn’t sit well in all sectors of the local business community.

Rinus Ooesthoek, the executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, has long argued the city should stick with home rule petition licenses. He says all these seasonal permits are unfair to business owners who paid as much as $80,000 or more for their licenses.

He participated in a downtown development committee several years ago that crafted guidelines on how and where special legislation licenses should be used by the city.

”We think seasonal licenses should be given to seasonal businesses only,” Ooesthoek said. “We have a competitive system now ... with home rule licenses.”

Ooesthoek said that process has become “pretty streamlined” now where it usually moves through Beacon Hill fairly quickly. The only catch is that the city has established a price for those licenses — 75 percent of the open market value. That’s still a bargain, he said. He noted the proposed Cinemaworld project for Highland Avenue is seeking a home rule license.

As for licensed eateries getting additional licenses, Ooesthoek calls it “an odd practice” that’s unfair to other establishments that paid thousands for their licenses.

City Councilor Todd Siegel sort of agrees with him. Siegel said he sees both sides of the argument.

”It has its pros and cons,” he said. “It definitely supports the smaller businesses, but it also hurts the other businesses that spent $60, $70, $80,000 on licenses, kind of devaluing the license for the guys who did it the correct way.”

”I think it’s a way around liquor licenses,” said Siegel. “It’s not seasonal to have one for nine months.”

He readily agrees that special legislation and seasonal licenses have helped develop the downtown into the dining and tourist attraction it is now. Siegel and the others interviewed for this story also all agree that the current state regulations governing alcohol licenses are “just absurd” and totally outdated. They say the Prohibition-era laws are overdue for a wholesale revision.

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April 21, 2015
Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach business license changes could affect rental property owners
WMBF News

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you do business in Myrtle Beach, you have until May 31 to get all of your paperwork in order and pay to renew or obtain a business license.

According to the city spokesperson, Mark Kruea, this annual tax allows you the privilege of getting a license and doing business within city limits. There's a base business license fee and then a percentage on top of that. The rate is based on what the business is projected to make in the next year, and it will vary based on the business, because there are many different classifications.

Kruea says this fee could range from $100 to $250, depending on how much the business makes. The purpose of adding what seems like just another fee, according to the city, is to raise revenue for the general fund.

“A business license really is a privilege license,” says Kruea. “We want to know who is doing business in the city of Myrtle Beach. Plus that business license fee, in most cases it's fairly small, but it helps to provide all the services that make Myrtle Beach such a great place to live, and work, and vacation, and actually have a business.”

Business licenses fluctuate year to year depending on the economy and whether there's a lot of construction in the area. During the recession the city saw fewer applications for business licenses, but Kruea says the city is definitely in a growth period and has been issuing more new business licenses.

The change this year is that if you rent out even just one property, you have to get a license. Before, you only had to get a license if you had two or more rental properties. And this goes for long-term rentals, short-term rentals, and anyone out-of-town who is renting out their second home. Myrtle Beach City Council actually approved the change last year to give owners as much notice as possible.

“There really was no good reason why somebody with just one rental property was exempted when everyone else was required to have a business license. If you got two properties, you needed a business license, you're in business. If you've got one property, you're still in business. And it's just fairer for everybody, for all folks who have a rental property to have a business license,” says Kruea.

And it is important to note, this license does not get you out of paying other taxes as a rental. Short-term or vacation rentals still have to pay the state and local accommodations tax and hospitality fees, according to the law.

The penalty for not renewing a business license or simply not getting one in the first place is five percent of the license fee for each month, or a fraction of a month that you do not have a license, up to a maximum of three years. That percentage is on top of the initial license fee you never paid. The five-percent-per-month penalty is not to exceed 30 percent per year. Also, operating without a business license is a misdemeanor.

Another change include if you have a business in Myrtle Beach but you do not live inside city limits, you'll now have to pay double. The fee for your business license is now twice that of resident license rates.

According to the city's website, city leaders plan to conduct random checks. If you don't have the license displayed or readily available, you will be fined and could face charges. If you think something is wrong and you do not owe anything that you are being billed for, you have 15 days from the day they mail you the bill to apply for a reassessment.

If you have any questions you can call the Business License office at 843-918-1200. And click here for a link to the application form.

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April 16, 2015
Sprint RadioShack launches in 1,435 stores
Retailing Today

A new chapter in the ongoing saga of RadioShack started on Friday with Sprint launching retail operations in 1,435 RadioShack stores.

The new network of stores, which are being branded as Sprint RadioShack, more than doubles Sprint’s company-owned retail format, the carrier said. It came about through a transaction last week in which General Wireless Inc., an affiliate of Standard General LP, acquired 1,743 RadioShack stores. Sprint agreed with Standard General to be co-tenants in 1,435 of those stores, with Sprint being the primary brand in marketing materials and signage.

Sprint is occupying roughly one-third of the retail space at the existing RadioShack locations. Through the end of this year, Sprint said it will work closely with General Wireless to build out its “store-within-a-store” retail model.

“This important partnership with Sprint has enabled RadioShack to continue to provide a trusted destination for our millions of loyal consumers,” said Ron Garriques, the newly appointed CEO of RadioShack. “Together, we can preserve jobs and an iconic American company specializing in mobility, connectivity and innovation. This arrangement is truly a win-win, giving Sprint a much larger footprint and providing both companies immediate access to each other's customers.”

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April 8, 2015
Gary, IN
Council changes dates for businesses to renew city licenses
Chicago Tribune

Gary - The Common Council gave its approval this week to a change in the date upon which businesses in the city will have to renew their general business licenses if they wish to continue to operate.

The council voted 8-0 Tuesday, with Councilman Michael Protho, D-2nd, absent, for a resolution sponsored by city zoning administrator Mary Hurt that says all business licenses will now expire on Dec. 31 of each year.

Currently, licenses were issued at various times throughout the year and were valid for one year from the date of issue. The change would apply also to licenses for operating vehicles or keeping an animal on a business' property.

Hurt told the council members that making the change would be easier for city officials to keep track of when licenses need to be renewed and for businesses to be able to remember when the deadline for renewal was approaching.

Councilman at-large Ronald Brewer asked about how current licenses would be extended and whether businesses would wind up getting more than a full year for the current license fee they have paid.

Hurt said that was possible, although the zoning department likely would have to study each license. "It might depend on what type of business it is in," she said.

The council also deferred action on a measure that would that would have accepted a $500,000 grant from the federal Housing and Urban Development department and determined how the money was to be spent.

The grant is meant to create a redevelopment plan for the East University Park neighborhood in Gary. But the ordinance that was on the council agenda for final approval Tuesday was instead deferred to the finance committee, which will meet at 5:30 p.m. April 14 at City Hall., with a public hearing to be held on the matter April 28.

In other business, the Common Council and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson presented Gary Legends honors to two long-time residents who were felt to have made significant contributions to the quality of life in the city.

Recipients this time were Bishop Dale Cudjoe of the Christ Temple Church of Christ, 4201 Washington St., and Mona Glasper Taylor, a long-time Gary resident who now lives in Decatur, Ga.

Cudjoe has been pastor at the Gary church for 25 years, and in his role of bishop oversees a diocese that stretches from Iowa to Ohio. Taylor was the long-time operator of Mona's Lounge at 15th Avenue and Broadway and continues to operate the Greater Gary Jazz Association, even though she now lives in the suburbs of Atlanta.

The council also voted without opposition to have the Police Department accept a new German Shepherd from the Gary Canine Association.

The new police dog is meant to replace Loki, a German Shepherd that died in September due to complications from cancer of the liver. That dog was 4 years old at the time, and had worked with the Gary Police Department for the past three years.

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April 2, 2015
Retailers Are Wary Of Possible Mall Merger
NASDAQ

Simon is already the nation's largest mall operator. If it succeeds in acquiring No. 3 Macerich, Simon would control a third of all A-ranked U.S. shopping malls -- those with the highest sales -- according to Green Street Advisors. Retail and real-estate executives say that kind of clout could give Simon an unprecedented amount of leverage to raise rents and influence store openings and closings.

"Negotiations are difficult for retailers when one landlord owns all the space," said Jim Bieri, a principal with Stokas Bieri, a real-estate consulting and leasing firm. "If you control all the great real estate, then you can dictate the terms."

Simon spokesman Hugh Burns said the company doesn't control retail rents, which are influenced by a number of factors. He also said a combined Simon and Macerich would control less than 3.1% of the 7.5 billion square feet of U.S. retail shopping center space, leaving retailers many alternatives to Simon's malls, including the Internet.

A deal is far from certain. Simon on Friday made what it called a best and final offer of $95.50 a share for Macerich, valuing it at $16.8 billion. Macerich shares closed down 4.6% on the day at $89.21.

Macerich said it would review the revised proposal. Earlier in the week, Macerich rejected Simon's initial approach to buy the company for $91 a share in cash and stock and put measures in place that would make a takeover more difficult.

Regardless of the outcome, the drama is illuminating the often uneasy balance of power between big landlords and the retailers that fill their malls.

The industry has split between the 312 best performing malls and lesser locations that are struggling to attract shoppers. Simon's scale at the top gives it an edge. The company owns 76 of the top-tier malls. That compares with 68 for General Growth Properties Inc., the next largest mall developer, and 32 for Macerich, according to Green Street Advisors.

Retailers scramble to get into A-list malls -- not only for the higher sales, but also to elevate their brands by rubbing shoulders with other prestigious labels, something the industry calls "bag value." That gives mall owners leverage over rents and where stores are opened.

The issues are playing out in a lawsuit filed against Indianapolis-based Simon by a local developer in a case that could go to trial in federal court later this year. Gumwood HP Shopping Partners LP claims Simon pressured Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and other national retailers to take leases at Simon's University Park Mall in Mishawaka, Ind., instead of Gumwood's nearby Heritage Square.

Simon wanted Ann Taylor to commit to opening a Loft store, which sells less expensive fashions than its namesake chain, at University Park before it would renew leases in other markets, according to court documents. Leases that were at risk of being killed included Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, one of the highest-grossing outlet centers in the country, and Lenox Square in Atlanta, a highly profitable mall.

"By 2008, Simon's CEO decided to 'go nuclear' and remind Ann Taylor of the fact that they were 'in the process of proceeding with documentation for almost 50 renewals and over 25 new factory and full-priced stores,'" according to court papers. Ann Taylor, which had a lease with Gumwood for Heritage Square and had started construction on the store, subsequently opened Loft in Simon's University Park Mall.

Mr. Burns, the Simon spokesman, said the allegations are without merit and that the company conducts its negotiations legally and ethically. Ann Taylor declined to comment, as did Gumwood, through its lawyer.

A similar battle played out in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Mo., as Simon and Taubman Centers prepared to open rival outlet centers in the summer of 2013. Simon told one retailer that leases coming up for renewal in other Simon centers would be in jeopardy if the retailer opened a store in Taubman's mall, according to people familiar with the situation. In other cases, Simon threatened to withhold its blessing from retailers that wanted to close stores, people familiar with the situation said.

"We compete fiercely for our retail tenants and always try to offer them the best deal possible," said Mr. Burns.

With hardly any new malls being built, Simon is turning to acquisitions to grow, though buying a major competitor has proved difficult. It withdrew a bid for General Growth in 2010, after that mall owner moved forward with a rival offer that brought it out of bankruptcy protection.

People in the industry say Simon isn't the only mall developer using hardball tactics. Mr. Bieri, the real-estate consultant, said it isn't unusual for landlords to lean on their relationships with tenants to try to discourage new developments close to their existing properties, or to leverage interest in good malls to get retailers to take space in lesser locations.

"We are confident there is no antitrust or other legal impediment to the proposed purchase of Macerich," said Mr. Burns, the Simon spokesman. "We believe this transaction would benefit retailers and consumers because we expect to improve the experience at the Macerich properties we're proposing to acquire."

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March 21, 2015
Reno, NV
Sandoval urges lawmakers to pass business license fee
Reno Gazette-Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval presented his business license fee — the cornerstone of his $1.1 billion plan of new and extended taxes to revamp Nevada’s K-12 education system — to a joint meeting of the Legislature’s money committees Wednesday in Carson City.

The debate and discussion over Sandoval’s “BLF” lasted more than five hours, although no vote was taken. Instead, Sandoval laid out his vision for Nevada’s youngest citizens and how to pay for it.

“They are the one who will inherit the Nevada we build for them,” Sandoval said. “Our greatest investments and most strategic reforms must be made in the way we educate our children,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval’s business license fee is expected to raise about $438 million over the next two-year budget cycle and help fund an array of programs including full-day kindergarten, teaching of English-language learners, pre-kindergarten education, career and technical education, gifted and talented education and teachers’ professional development, among others.

Stars of the show were Sandoval and three former Nevada governors — Democrats Dick Bryan and Bob Miller plus Republican Robert List.

List, considered the most conservative of the four governors, seemed to acknowledge that some conservatives don’t like the plan. Much of the criticism against Sandoval’s business license fee proposal is that it is too similar to the “margins tax” ballot initiative that was soundly defeated by voters in the 2014 general election.

“I am not here to say that Gov. Sandoval’s is the only or best approach,” List said. “If you don’t like it, what do you suggest we do?”

Then List issued a challenge to legislators:

“It is your job to step up and show the same kind of courage that Gov. Sandoval has shown,” List said. “You and your colleagues are much more than simply the winners of your elections. You were sent here to lead.”

List spoke for all four governors when he said that Nevada’s tax structure needs an overhaul. Sandoval ran for re-election on a promise to reform Nevada’s education and revenue systems but did not detail his overall tax plan until his State of the State speech in January.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the tax structure needs remodeling to meet the modern times, to meet our drastic and crying need to fix our broken education system,” List said. “Nevada’s schools, K-12, are an embarrassment to our state, despite the gains we have made.”

There was nary a negative comment about the plan during the first five hours of the presentation Wednesday. However, criticisms from opponents were emailed as the meeting proceeded.

“Gov. Brian Sandoval can put on a political circus, but his dog-and-pony show can’t mask the problems with SB252, his gross receipt business license tax,” said Victor Joecks, the executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank based in Las Vegas. “In November, voters rejected a similar proposal by a 4-to-1 ratio, because they understood that raising taxes on businesses that are losing money will kill jobs and force struggling businesses to close their doors.”

Joecks was also critical of the statements of the former governors, saying Sandoval’s proposal to “dump” more money in education has a 50-year track record of failure.

“It’s amazing to watch three former governors talk about the need to dump more money into our failing education system without acknowledging that education funding increased during their tenure,” Joecks said. “Gov. Bob Miller touted the start of class-size reduction during his testimony, but failed to acknowledge that spending billions on class-size reduction has failed to increase student achievement.”

Tuesday, former Nevada Superintendent of Schools James Guthrie was also critical of Sandoval’s plans. Guthrie, who was hired by Sandoval, abruptly resigned in 2013 after about a year on the job. His resignation came after he told upset some Democratic members of the Legislature that class-size reductions were not high on his list of priorities.

Guthrie said Sandoval’s plan for education lacks a clear focus.

“The governor’s budget would spend additional millions on timid reforms such as expanded preschool, English language learning, opportunities for gifted students, staff for low performing schools, opposing cyber bullying, facility construction and more personnel for the State Education Department,” Guthrie said. “These proposals appear to be guided more by political expediency — greasing squeaky wheels — than a goal of effective education.”

Guthrie’s statements were released by NPRI Tuesday.

“To counter low academic achievement, Nevada must recruit and retain larger numbers of effective teachers, place them where they are most needed and reward them for high performance,” Guthrie said “No new technology, textbook, class-size reduction, professional development or physical facility can substitute for effective teachers.”

Others, however, said Sandoval’s plan was important for economic development. A better-educated work force is key to the state’s economic development, Rob Hooper of the Northern Nevada Development Authority told lawmakers.

“Education directly ties to work-force development,” Hooper said. “This is key to the well-being of Nevada families and to our state.”

The NNDA board of directors met on Sandoval’s proposal Wednesday morning and authorized Hopper to tell lawmakers that the agency fully supports it.

Sandoval will need a two-third majority in both the Assembly and state Senate to pass his tax plan. He will need 28 votes in the Assembly and 14 in the Senate.

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March 20, 2015
Portland, OR
Portland approves 51 licenses for Tesla-driving EcoCab
Portland Business Journal

Under pressure to expand Portland's undersized taxi fleet, the Portland City Council unanimously approved a request from a Longview-based company to launch the city's first all-electric taxi service.

The council voted 5 to 0 Wednesday to grant 51 licenses to EcoCab.

Ronald Knori, a Longview, Washington entrepreneur who launched successful painting and taxi services in his hometown, applied for a taxi license on Oct. 31.

Knori plans to launch with two Tesla Model S vehicles — the same vehicle he operates in Longview. His fleet will also include 10 Nissan Leafs and several handicap accessible vans.

Over time, the fleet will expand to 50, with Teslas expected to form the backbone of the operation.

Knori said he will treat his drivers as employees rather than independent contractors and will pay not only wages but provide paid time off and health insurance.

He'd hoped to begin operating in January, anticipating $2.1 million in revenue in its first year.

"I expect to be profitable in the first month," he said last fall.

Wendy Culverwell covers sustainable business, manufacturing and law.

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March 19, 2015
Carson City, NV
Bill to enact governor's business license fee, raise $437 million introduced in Nevada Senate
Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nevada — The Nevada Senate introduced a bill Wednesday that would implement Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed business license fee and raise an estimated $437 million during the next two years.

The details of Sandoval's plan were released in SB252, a bill more than 200 pages long, as the governor looked on from the back of the Senate gallery. All committee meetings but the one for the Revenue Committee have been canceled the afternoon of March 18, when Sandoval is expected to testify on the bill to the full Senate and Assembly.

"This is a big discussion about how we modernize and better fund education and work toward creating, as the governor describes it, the new Nevada," Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson said. "Every member of the Legislature needs to be invested in this discussion."

The proposal would change Nevada's flat $200-per-year business license fee to a tiered system with rates ranging from $400 to $4 million a year. A company's tax burden would be determined by its revenue and industry type, and sectors with a higher average profit margin will pay more.

Sandoval says the increase is necessary to invest in K-12 education throughout the state. The bill will need to win support from two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate and Assembly to become law.

Some advocacy groups have already taken a position on the fee hike. The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance announced support for the proposal on Wednesday and said the tax increase would have a negligible impact on future state economic development.

"The LVGEA recognizes that it is imperative to start at the beginning and both reform our K-12 education system and pay for programs that will create a workforce that will be competitive in the 21st century global economy," said Ray Specht of Toyota Financial Savings Bank, the chairman of the board of the alliance.

But other groups have come out against the plan, including the prominent conservative fundraising group Keystone Corporation. The organization said it is opposed to plans to tax business income, including the margin tax that failed on the ballot in November, but it will work with the governor on vetting alternatives to the business license fee.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, another heavy-hitter in the tax discussion, issued a statement saying its legislative team will be analyzing the bill and any other alternatives that crop up before taking a position on the fee.

"Our members are being asked to pay for possibly the largest tax increase in Nevada history," chamber officials said. "They have the right to understand what they are being asked to pay for."

Democrats didn't have immediate comment on the particulars of the bill, but they said they're approaching it through the prism of Democratic priorities.

"We're going to look to make sure it's fair, sustainable, that it's broad-based, that it's not hurting small businesses and the middle class," Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford said. "We're going to take as much time as we need."

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March 3, 2015
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana lottery determines who gets permits to sell marijuana
LATimes.com

Cheers and sighs erupted at Santa Ana City Hall as would-be pot shop owners got their chance to obtain a permit to legally sell medical marijuana in the city.

Thursday afternoon's lottery was a result of the city-backed, voter-approved measure that says dispensaries can operate only in two industrial areas.

Applicants were selected during a lottery overseen by an independent accounting firm to ensure impartiality, city officials said. With more than 600 application fees paid at $1,690 each, the city brought in about $1 million in revenue. The city won't have a complete list of winners until Friday.

The randomly selected applicants now move on to the Regulatory Safety Permit phase of the process; that application costs $12,086 and is submitted to the Santa Ana Police Department. People can start applying for the permit Friday; the city then has 60 days to review the application.

Among the lotto winners was rapper Louis Freese, better known as “B-Real” of the hip-hop group Cypress Hill, whose lyrics often reference marijuana. Freese, who plans on opening a collective called Dr. Greenthumb, said he wants to bring “responsible, quality medication” to people in Santa Ana.

“These collectives create jobs, and that gets overlooked. They can create different revenue streams,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We're glad we've been selected.”

Under the new measure, collectives must be 500 feet apart and 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and residential zones. The dispensaries' gross receipts will be taxed 5% and could be raised to as much as 10%, said city spokeswoman Tanya Lyon. Cultivation is not allowed.

Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though it is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — a designation it shares with heroin and Ecstasy.

But just this week, the U.S. surgeon general seemed optimistic about marijuana's potential.

“We have some preliminary data showing that for some medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told “CBS This Morning.” “So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I'm very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Grant and Patti McCormick said they know the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand. Both use it to alleviate pain: Grant for chronic arthritis and Patti for migraines. The couple attended the public meeting to support a friend who was ineligible for the lottery because of the location of his dispensary.

“It's great that Santa Ana is willing to do this. Some regulation is needed,” Grant McCormick, 64, said. “It can't be the Wild West.”

Edmundo Serafin was ecstatic when the accounting firm announced the second ball, marked 337. It was his number.

Serafin and two other friends had marijuana collectives of their own, but closed them in anticipation of the lottery. They expect more than 500 patients for their grand opening, he said.

It's a relief to have the chance at a legitimate business, he said.

“Before this, you were waiting to see if the DEA was outside, or if your shop had been cleaned up,” he said.

“We want legalization so patients can have safe access to medication,” Serafin said

http://www.latimes.com/local/orangecounty/la-me-0206-pot-shop-lottery-20150206-story.html

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February 9, 2015
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana lottery determines who gets permits to sell marijuana
LATimes.com

Cheers and sighs erupted at Santa Ana City Hall as would-be pot shop owners got their chance to obtain a permit to legally sell medical marijuana in the city.

Thursday afternoon's lottery was a result of the city-backed, voter-approved measure that says dispensaries can operate only in two industrial areas.

Applicants were selected during a lottery overseen by an independent accounting firm to ensure impartiality, city officials said. With more than 600 application fees paid at $1,690 each, the city brought in about $1 million in revenue. The city won't have a complete list of winners until Friday.

The randomly selected applicants now move on to the Regulatory Safety Permit phase of the process; that application costs $12,086 and is submitted to the Santa Ana Police Department. People can start applying for the permit Friday; the city then has 60 days to review the application.

Among the lotto winners was rapper Louis Freese, better known as “B-Real” of the hip-hop group Cypress Hill, whose lyrics often reference marijuana. Freese, who plans on opening a collective called Dr. Greenthumb, said he wants to bring “responsible, quality medication” to people in Santa Ana.

“These collectives create jobs, and that gets overlooked. They can create different revenue streams,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We're glad we've been selected.”

Under the new measure, collectives must be 500 feet apart and 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and residential zones. The dispensaries' gross receipts will be taxed 5% and could be raised to as much as 10%, said city spokeswoman Tanya Lyon. Cultivation is not allowed.

Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though it is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — a designation it shares with heroin and Ecstasy.

But just this week, the U.S. surgeon general seemed optimistic about marijuana's potential.

“We have some preliminary data showing that for some medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told “CBS This Morning.” “So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I'm very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Grant and Patti McCormick said they know the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand. Both use it to alleviate pain: Grant for chronic arthritis and Patti for migraines. The couple attended the public meeting to support a friend who was ineligible for the lottery because of the location of his dispensary.

“It's great that Santa Ana is willing to do this. Some regulation is needed,” Grant McCormick, 64, said. “It can't be the Wild West.”

Edmundo Serafin was ecstatic when the accounting firm announced the second ball, marked 337. It was his number.

Serafin and two other friends had marijuana collectives of their own, but closed them in anticipation of the lottery. They expect more than 500 patients for their grand opening, he said.

It's a relief to have the chance at a legitimate business, he said.

“Before this, you were waiting to see if the DEA was outside, or if your shop had been cleaned up,” he said.

“We want legalization so patients can have safe access to medication,” Serafin said

http://www.latimes.com/local/orangecounty/la-me-0206-pot-shop-lottery-20150206-story.html

More...
February 9, 2015
New York, NY
New York Revises “BitLicense” Regulations for Virtual Currency Businesses
JDSupra.com

Seven months after releasing its BitLicense proposal, the State of New York has published substantial revisions. Like the original version, the revised regulations apply more broadly than federal regulations and require many virtual currency businesses that “involve” the State of New York or customers located or operating within New York to obtain a license.

The New York Department of Financial Services has today released its revised “BitLicense” regulations. With a few notable differences, the revised regulations track the original proposal of July 2014. Businesses transacting in virtual currencies should understand how the regime might impact the conduct of their business.

Who Must Register?

The revised regulations, like the original proposed regulations, require licenses for any business or individual engaged in the following activities:

◾ Conversion of government currency into virtual currency

◾ Conversion of virtual currency into government currency

◾ Conversion of virtual currency to another virtual currency

◾ Buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business

◾ Administering or issuing a virtual currency

◾ Securing of virtual currency

◾ Storing, holding, or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of others

Though the revised regulations build out a robust definition of virtual currency exchanges, they still cover the receipt of virtual currency for transmission and the transmission of virtual currency.

The registration requirements still do not apply to:

◾ Merchants merely accepting virtual currency in exchange for goods and services

◾ Customers paying for goods or services with virtual currency

◾ Banks that have been approved by the New York Department of Financial Services to conduct exchange services

The revised regulations contain yet another carve-out for so-called “pure” software developers: the mere development and dissemination of software does not “in and of itself” constitute activity that requires a license. Presumably, businesses that both develop software and also engage in “Virtual Currency Business Activity” (as described in the revised regulations) will still be subject to licensure.

What is the Timeline for Licensure?

The revised regulations provide for a grace period of 45 days before submitting an application for a license.

Some businesses, however, may qualify for a newly introduced “conditional license” presumably geared toward growing businesses that cannot meet the requirements for full licensure. During the 2-year term of the conditional license, the licensee will be subject to heightened review of its operations. The scope of this review is not qualified in the proposal, and the Commissioner has retained discretion to extend the 2-year term indefinitely.

What Is the Geographic Reach?

Like the original proposed regulations, the revised regulations still apply to any business “involving New York or a New York Resident” without regard to where the business itself is physically located. “New York Resident” is defined as any person or business entity residing in, located in, or conducting business in New York. Interpreted broadly, the regulations might even apply to any virtual currency business engaged in the above-listed activities that serves customers temporarily working in or temporarily located in the State of New York.

What Qualifies as “Virtual Currency”?

The definition of “Virtual Currency” differs only slightly in the revised proposed regulations. It is still defined to include Bitcoin and other convertible currencies, and there remain exemptions in the definition of “Virtual Currency” for:

◾ virtual units that can be redeemed for real-world goods, services, discounts or purchases but cannot be redeemed for currency, such as airlines miles and affinity points

◾ currencies used solely within online gaming platforms, such as World of Warcraft gold

◾ virtual units used as part of gift cards

There is a new carve-out in the revised regulations for transactions undertaken for non-financial purposes that do not involve the transfer of more than “a nominal amount” of virtual currency. The revised regulations are silent on what qualifies as “a nominal amount,” but this carve-out is likely a direct reference to industry calls for a “Bitcoin 2.0” exemption for businesses making non-currency uses of the Bitcoin protocol that merely deal in so-called “colored coins” or other tokens that stand for something other than money.

Capitalization Requirement

The original proposed regulations could have been read to prohibit licensees from investing in virtual currencies. The revised proposed regulations provide more flexibility and require licensees to hold sufficient capital in “cash,” virtual currency, or high-quality, highly liquid investment-grade assets. The amount of this capital requirement is subject to the discretion of the New York Department of Financial Services, with no stated upper or lower limit.

Collection of Customer Information

The revised proposed regulations still require the collection and retention of certain categories of information for each transaction, but the retention time has been reduced to seven years. For each transaction—no matter the size, the licensee must collect and retain the following information:

◾ The amount of the transaction

◾ The date and “precise time” of the transaction

◾ Any payment instructions

◾ The total amount of fees and charges received and paid

◾ The account numbers of the parties to the transaction

◾ The physical addresses of the parties to the transaction

Critically, the original proposal further required licensees to record the identities of both parties to any transaction. This requirement has been softened in the revised proposal, and only requires that licensees record identifying information for (i) the parties to the transaction that are clients or accountholders of the licensee, and (ii) “to the extent practicable” any other parties to the transaction.

What Kind of Reserve System Is Required?

A full reserve is still required under the revised regulations. The revised proposed regulations still require licensees who store, hold or maintain custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of another person to hold virtual currency of the same type and amount as that which is owed or obligated to such other person. Virtual currency “banking”—accepting deposits and making loans from those deposits—is arguably illegal under New York’s proposed regime. Only virtual currency “vaulting” is permitted.

The Revised Proposed Regulations Require Financial Reporting

The revised proposed regulations still require each licensee to submit quarterly financial statements within 45 days of the close of the licensee’s fiscal quarter.

These reports must include:

◾ A balance sheet, income statement, statement of change in ownership equity, statement of comprehensive income, cash flow statement, and statement of net liquid assets

◾ A statement demonstrating compliance with any financial requirements required by the regulations

◾ Financial projections and strategic business plans

◾ A chart of accounts, including a description of each account

The following are no longer required to be submitted under the revised proposed regulations: profit and loss statements, and statements of retained earnings.

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-york-revises-bitlicense-regulation-97862/

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February 6, 2015
Shelby, MI
Township sets licensing fees for smoking lounges
Source Newspapers

As part of the consent agenda, the Shelby Township Board of Trustees voted last month to establish an initial non-refundable application fee and a license renewal fee for smoking lounges operating in the township.

According to the resolution adopted at the Jan. 20 meeting, Chapter 14 of the township's Code of Ordinances requires that any person who wishes to operate a smoking lounge business in the township must first obtain a smoking lounge business license, in conjunction with the terms and conditions of the township's Code of Ordinances and zoning ordinances.

The resolution, which sets license fees at $1,500 for an initial non-refundable application and $250 for a renewal, represents the most recent effort by the township to place stricter regulations on smoking lounges.

Months earlier, the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted an ordinance designed to license and regulate smoking establishments throughout Shelby Township.

"This ordinance gives our township, its Board of Trustees and its police department an invaluable tool to ensure the safety of the Shelby Township community while providing local businesses a standard to prove to their neighbors that they are on the up and up," Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said after the ordinance was adopted in November 2014.

According to Police Capt. Stephen Stanbury, the number of smoking lounges operating in Shelby Township has increased substantially in recent years, which has resulted in a significant increase in responses by the police department to various complaints, including assaults, criminal sexual conduct, minors in possession of alcohol, underage persons in a smoking lounge, narcotic offenses, disorderly conduct, larcenies, noise and traffic.

The ordinance adopted in November allows the township to license smoking establishments and develop regulations similar to, but not to the extent of, Michigan Liquor Control Commission establishments; suspend and/or revoke the licenses of businesses that repeatedly do not comply with the regulations stated in the ordinance; investigate current and potential owners of smoking establishments to determine if they have been responsible people in their past personal and business dealings; and inspect smoking establishments to ensure there are no illegal activities taking place on the premises.

It also allows for fixed hours of operation between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. on any day, as well as the suspension and/or revocation of a license along with the appeals process, which is clearly stated and detailed in the ordinance.

"If there is any illicit or unsavory activity, our police officers now have a clear set of guidelines that dictate what can and cannot take place in these establishments," Stathakis said. "And if the time comes when there are infractions to the ordinance, it provides our police force with the tools to make it stop."

http://www.sourcenewspapers.com/articles/2015/02/05/news/doc54d3841e6a6be758518284.txt

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February 4, 2015
Pelham, AL
Pelham City Council cracking down on businesses that fail to pay sales tax
AL.com

The Pelham City Council voted Monday night to enact a 30-day deadline on two businesses that must either meet outstanding obligations to pay sales taxes and file tax returns or have their licenses to operate revoked.

The council took action after holding its first public hearings under the revised business license revocation procedures enacted last July. The hearings could become a common occurrence at City Council meetings as the municipality pursues businesses that fall behind on payment of sales taxes.

Monday's separate actions involved the Gallery 31 at Riverchase auction business at 2040 Old Montgomery Highway and Bishop Holdings LLC's Wing King.

While Wing King has been closed for more than a month and the owners did not respond to the city's notification attempts, one of the owners of Gallery 31 at Riverchase told the council he would pay the outstanding amount within 30 days.

Mark Thompson, who owns Gallery 31 at Riverchase with his wife, Karen, told council members Monday night about problems with a business partner that have contributed to the delay in tax payments over several months.

"After this next auction ... we will bring current the back taxes on that amount," Mark Thompson told the council. "I'm taking the blame for this and I'm taking responsibility."

The council's draft resolution to revoke Gallery 31's business license after 30 days states the company had failed to file tax returns and/or pay sales taxes for last May and December.

Although Thompson vowed to pay the amount due, the council passed the resolution to revoke Gallery 31's business license after 30 days if the obligation is not met.

"It may be in the best interest for the city to pass this and the ball will be in your court," Councilman Ron Scott said. "I do think it's probably in the best interest of the city to pass this resolution so that we are staying true to what we outline and indeed not create a situation where somebody can come back and say, 'Why can't you do for me what you did for this business?'"

In the case of Wing King, City Finance Director Tom Seale said the restaurant's owners had failed to file and pay taxes for July, September, November and December last year.

"We have gotten no response from the taxpayer," Seale said. "They closed just after Christmas."

The council voted to revoke Bishop Holding's business license on March 4 if the taxes are not paid in full.

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2015/02/pelham_city_council_cracking_d.html

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February 3, 2015
Springfield, IL
Rauner issues medical marijuana licenses, doesn't explain quick turnaround
Chicago Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday granted permits for dozens of companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, though it will still be several months before patients can legally take the drug.

The surprise move came just one week after Rauner said no licenses would be issued until a legal review of the process initiated under Democratic predecessor Pat Quinn was completed. The Rauner administration did not detail Monday how the issue was resolved so quickly, saying only that it conducted an internal review of Quinn’s work and also consulted with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, and found numerous problem areas that could open the state to legal action.

Among those problems are what Rauner general counselor Jason Barclay called “arbitrary” scoring provisions under Quinn that all but eliminated some applicants, and applicants that were disqualified without clear reasoning or a chance for companies to respond to concerns.

All told, Rauner’s actions clear the way for 18 cultivation centers to begin growing medicinal pot, with another three applicants undergoing further review. The state will send letters to the selected cultivation centers informing owners they were selected for a permit and have 48 hours to accept the licenses. Final approval requires businesses to pay all related fees, register employees, and prove operators have enough money to build and run the facility.

One company to be granted a permit is Ieso LLC, which wants to grow medical marijuana in southern Illinois. The firm lists as a manager Tom Jennings, who is a former director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Another 53 companies were authorized to operate dispensaries that will sell the drug once it’s grown and harvested, with five companies under additional review. Companies in legal limbo include Health Central LLC, which hired former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin as a lobbyist. The company is seeking two licenses to sell medical marijuana in Springfield and Collinsville.

Also getting a closer look is Custom Strains LLC, which is seeking to open a dispensary in the West Loop. The company is run by Perry Mandera, who also owns a trucking firm and VIP's, a Gentleman's Club, on the near North Side.

For weeks, Rauner criticized Quinn’s rollout of the medical marijuana program. Quinn’s administration had said it wanted to issue licenses by the end of last year, but Quinn left office in January without doing so.

Last week, Rauner’s office released numerous internal documents that showed Quinn officials had scored and ranked applicants and were preparing draft news releases to announce finalists.

A spokesman for the former governor issued a statement Monday night saying Quinn did not approve any licenses because he “felt the process was incomplete” and he “refused to rush the licenses out the door.”

There were accusations of clout under Quinn’s watch, and Rauner’s decision to approve many of the same applicants did little to quiet those accusations.

Kreider Services had hoped to land a cultivation center in Dixon in northwest Illinois and its team had worked to secure a strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web that helps children with seizures and epilepsy. The nonprofit didn’t get a license and questioned how the state’s grading system overlooked a group offering a strain of marijuana in demand for helping children.

“It just seems like Pat Quinn didn’t do the best job on this process to begin with and Rauner’s making it worse,” said Jeff Stauter, Kreider’s executive director.

But Green Thumb Industries, which won licenses to cultivate in Dixon, Rock Island and Oglesby as well as dispense in Lake County, contended it had gone through a rigorous process, including a security team that included former Chicago police Superintendent Terry Hillard and former state police Director Terry Gainer.

Green Thumb spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch praised the Rauner administration for a “thoughtful and thorough review of the medical cannabis process” and dismissed the suggestion that insider politics played a role in the selection process.

Mike McClain, who also worked with Green Thumb, said he acted only as a consultant because he feared lobbying of government officials would have “hurt” the group’s chances. McClain said he registered as a lobbyist, but only to make sure his involvement with the group was transparent.

“We wanted to go beyond the letter of the law. We didn’t want any sense of impropriety,” said McClain, a former state representative from Quincy and close ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Tribune reporters Ellen Jean Hirst, Robert McCoppin and Jessie Hellmann contributed.

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February 2, 2015
Houston, TX
Sysco says would sell 11 U.S. Foods centers to win deal approval
Reuters.com

Food distributor Sysco Corp (SYY.N) said it would sell 11 distribution centers run by takeover target US Foods Inc [USFOO.UL] to Performance Food Group to satisfy antitrust concerns.Sysco's $3.5 billion offer for US Foods is awaiting approval from the Federal Trade Commission as the deal would combine the two largest U.S. food distributors.

Sysco and US Foods are the only companies with the reach to offer nationwide contracts to deliver a variety of goods to customers ranging from hotel chains to hospitals.

Sysco said it has been working with the FTC over the past 12 months to get approval for the deal, which was announced in December 2013.

"...We believe this divestiture package fully addresses (FTC's) concerns." Sysco Chief Executive Bill DeLaney said on Monday.

The centers offered to Performance Group generated $4.6 billion in revenue in US Foods' latest fiscal year, Sysco said.

Performance Group is owned by investment firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N).

Reuters reported on Friday that Sysco and US Foods have offered to sell 11 centers, citing a source.

Sysco also reported on Monday a 7.5 percent rise in quarterly sales to $12.1 billion.

Sysco's net income fell 25 percent to $158 million, or 27 cents per share, in the second quarter ended Dec. 27 due to higher dairy and meat prices.

Excluding items, the company earned 41 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $11.93 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Up to Friday's close, the company's shares had risen 14 percent since it announced the deal in December 2013. They were up less than 1 percent in premarket trading on Monday.

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January 30, 2015
Carson City, NV
Gov. Sandoval details new business fee plan to fund Nevada education reform
Las Vegas Review Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday that his proposed business license fee to raise $438 million to fund much of his public education agenda would mean lower tax collections than under myriad other tax proposals debated in Nevada over the past dozen years.

“This is our proposal,” he said. “I am going to defend it.”

The proposed fee, based on gross receipts, encompasses all businesses and is as fair and simple as possible, Sandoval said.

All 330,000 Nevada businesses that now pay a $200 annual flat fee would pay more under the variable-fee plan, but how much more would vary greatly.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce said it is looking forward to studying details of the governor’s plan and working on solutions to Nevada’s revenue volatility.

“The Metro Chamber agrees that significant changes are needed to stabilize Nevada’s tax structure for the long-term economic health of Nevada,” chamber President Kristin McMillan and government affairs committee Chairman Hugh Anderson said in a joint statement.

But the Retail Association of Nevada said the plan mirrors previous gross receipts tax proposals it has historically opposed.

“It has a lot of elements of a gross receipts tax,” said association spokesman Bryan Wachter, adding that it has been “very clear this was a policy we did not agree with.”

He said the group is committed to the governor’s education plan and agrees more revenue is needed to accomplish those goals.

“We hope the Legislature can come to a resolution that helps everyone,” he said.

Individual businesses could be asked to pay from $400 to $4 million per year, but Sandoval said no current businesses would pay the top rate because their gross receipts aren’t high enough to exceed his proposed industry-specific caps.

For the hotel-casino industry, for example, gaming revenues would be exempt while other revenues would be subject to fees of no more than $2.58 million — the most that would be paid in any of the industry categories.

The maximum tax in the construction category would be $405,181.

Those estimates are based on data from 80,000 businesses, and might vary as implemented, said Chris Nielsen, Sandoval’s deputy chief of staff.

Nevada’s business community would be divided into 29 categories based on standard industrial codes, each with a rate based in part on differences in costs and labor rates from industry to industry, Sandoval said. The plan relies on information from Texas to set different industry rates because that state has developed the data over six years and has withstood legal challenges, he said.

Industry differences, for example, would mean a 0.069 percent rate for agriculture while accommodations — hotels — would pay 0.218 percent. Food services, including restaurants, would pay a 0.211 percent rate.

Sandoval, who with his staff briefed the media on the proposal, provided a chart showing the amounts businesses would have paid had previous tax proposals been implemented.

In one example, a construction company with $2 million in gross receipts would pay $1,740 under Sandoval’s proposal.

Under the 2003 gross receipts tax plan, the company would have paid $3,875. Under a 2011 margins tax proposal, the bill would have been $5,600. The Question 3 ballot measure would have generated a $28,000 tax bill. Under a doubling of the modified business tax, which Sandoval said he also considered, the company would pay $5,151.

Other examples show similar results, although some business would pay less if the existing modified business tax were to be doubled.

One example is a retail business with $17 million in gross receipts, which would pay $21,639 under Sandoval’s plan, compared to $11,482 under a doubling of the modified business tax.

While many questions about the proposal remain unanswered, the approach is not unknown in Nevada, Sandoval said. Both the city of Reno and Clark County have a gross receipts component, he said.

“So I think it is important to emphasize and let people know that this is something that is not a novel concept,” he said.

The business license fee is already in law and could be modified to raise the revenue, Sandoval said.

Reform and accountability will be part of any increased funding plan, he said.

Sandoval said his revenue proposal, along with many other tax plans, will be vetted by lawmakers over the next 120 days.

“We’ll let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Members of the Republican Assembly Caucus offered no immediate endorsement of Sandoval’s revenue plan.

“The process of vetting and approving final budgets takes a great deal of time and careful consideration,” said Majority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas. “As we weigh the governor’s recommendations, our caucus will also be offering numerous reforms that will save money and improve education in Nevada. Without these necessary reforms, additional spending alone will not produce the results we all desire.”

Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, R-Las Vegas, who will chair the Taxation Committee, said the details of of the proposal offered by Sandoval will allow his committee to “begin the task Nevada’s taxpayers have entrusted to us. I welcome Gov. Sandoval’s commitment to Nevada’s future, and I promise to give his proposals the thoughtful consideration they deserve.”

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada-legislature/gov-sandoval-details-new-business-fee-plan-fund-nevada-education-reform

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January 30, 2015
New York, NY
Coinbase, a Bitcoin Exchange, is Operating Without a License
NYTimes

The best-funded company in the Bitcoin industry appears to be operating without the proper licenses in the world’s financial capital.

Coinbase, a company based in San Francisco with funding from the New York Stock Exchange and other big investors, said this week that it had opened as the first regulated Bitcoin exchange in several states, including New York.

But a spokesman for the top financial regulator in New York said the company did not have the licenses necessary to operate as a Bitcoin exchange in the state.

“We are working with several companies, including Coinbase, on licensing and will continue to move forward expeditiously,” said Matthew Anderson, a spokesman for Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of the state’s Department of Financial Services. “That said, we have not yet issued any licenses to virtual currency firms.”

The understanding in Mr. Lawsky’s office is that in order to operate as a Bitcoin exchange or broker, a company would need a money transmission license and would, in the future, need a specialized BitLicense, which Mr. Lawsky’s office is planning to unveil soon, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak about the office’s views publicly.

In a statement, a co-founder of Coinbase, Fred Ehrsam, said his company “will continue to work” with Mr. Lawsky’s office “on all Bitcoin matters involving consumers, merchants and the recently launched Coinbase Exchange.” He added, “We also look forward to continuing to work together on the completion of New York’s BitLicense.”

Bitcoin, a digital currency with built-in scarcity, was started by an anonymous creator in 2009. Over the last two years, companies working with the currency have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments — with none attracting more money than Coinbase. Last week, Coinbase announced that it had raised $75 million from several investors, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Spanish bank BBVA.

There is no indication that Coinbase is facing any penalty for working with New York residents. But any tension between Coinbase and regulators could set back carefully orchestrated efforts in the industry to improve Bitcoin’s reputation with the authorities after earlier thefts and scandals.

In addition to Mr. Lawsky’s office, California’s top financial regulator issued a “consumer alert” on Tuesday about Coinbase after news reports suggested the company was licensed to serve residents of the state.

“California consumers should be aware Coinbase Exchange is not regulated or licensed by the state,” the alert from the California Department of Business said.

A number of other Bitcoin companies have said they were waiting for Mr. Lawsky to issue his BitLicense before trying to open an exchange in the United States. Last week, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss said they were planning to open a Bitcoin exchange in New York as soon as Mr. Lawsky signed off on it.

Mr. Lawsky has been at the forefront of trying to impose regulations on the nascent Bitcoin industry, and industry participants expect that other state regulators will act after Mr. Lawsky.

Coinbase’s decision to move ahead of regulators is similar to the decisions made by some other California start-ups, which have started their businesses and then sought regulatory approval, occasionally causing tension with those regulators.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/coinbase-a-bitcoin-exchange-is-operating-without-licenses-so-far/?_r=1

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January 26, 2015
St. Charles, IL
St. Charles to begin regulating BYOB restaurants
Chicago Tribune

The liquor commission recently reviewed and signed off on revisions to the city's code for business licenses and alcoholic beverages, which included the new BYOB regulations as well as updated mandates for alcohol sale and consumption at golf clubs. The revisions await approval by the city council.

There is currently no regulation of BYOB restaurants by either St. Charles or Illinois, as state law delegates regulation to municipalities, said Mayor Ray Rogina, who also serves as liquor commissioner.

"If we stood silent on this matter, and stayed as we are today, anyone could allow for beer, wine or hard liquor in their establishment under the silence of the city and the state," Rogina said. "We're attempting to take a stand on this."

Once the new code is in effect, restaurants wishing to participate in BYOB will need to receive a Class F-1 license from the liquor commission, said St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan. This includes the three St. Charles establishments already offering a BYOB policy, which are Liu Brothers Asian Bistro, E & S Fish Company and La Vita Cigars, said Tina Nilles, administrative assistant for the city.

Licensed restaurants would then have to comply with certain requirements, such as only allowing unopened bottles into the restaurants and limiting one 750 milliliter bottle of wine or one 6-pack of beer to be carried in per customer, Keegan said. Alcohol must be consumed by customers who are served a meal during food service hours, he said.

BYOB licensees will be held to the same standards as those with a regular liquor license, and will be cited for serving minors or over-serving their customers, Keegan said. At least one person on duty at the restaurant will be required to undergo Illinois Basset certification for serving alcohol, he said.

BYOB hours will also be restricted to those of package liquor stores, meaning customers won't be able to bring in and consume alcohol after 10 p.m., Keegan said.

"We just wanted to strengthen our ordinances a little bit and protect not only us, but the proprietor," Keegan said.

Alderman Maureen Lewis, who sits on the commission, brought up her hesitance about the inclusion of spirits and hard liquor in the BYOB policy. But Keegan said the new code and licensing strive to preserve policies that have already been in practice, which include a restaurant's choice to permit hard liquor.

"When we looked at trying to codify regulations moving forward, we didn't want to penalize or restrict practices that were already in place," he said. "We just want to have some sanctions to make sure there are best practices."

Licensed BYOB restaurants will be permitted to let their customers leave the restaurant with one unsealed and partially consumed bottle of wine and any sealed cans of beer, as long as they are securely packaged in a transparent, one-time use tamper proof bag, Keegan said. This is to sidestep open container violations, he said.

The code also allows for restaurants with liquor licenses to apply for Class C licenses to allow their customers to also leave with one unsealed and partially consumed bottle, according to the code.

A Class C-3 license will permit restaurants to sell wine in its original package to be consumed outside the restaurant. Liquor commission officials mentioned two St. Charles restaurants already participating in retail sale of wine for carry-out orders: Francesca's by the River and Pizzeria Neo.

At Tuesday's meeting, the liquor commission also discussed a new city code regulating sale and consumption of alcohol at golf clubs. The Royal Fox County Club and St. Charles Country Club will now need to apply for Class D-3 licenses, which will permit alcohol sales from either a halfway house or a food and beverage cart. Sales will take place on the ninth and 18th holes for consumption on the golf course only, according to the code.

One thing not included in the revised codes but brought up by commission members was the possible regulation of alcohol at businesses that may serve wine, beer or liquor at open houses, launch parties or ribbon cuttings.

Members agreed future regulation could protect the businesses but tabled the topic for further discussion.

"When a business has a ribbon cutting and they want to provide some degree of hospitality, we can allow it," Rogina said. "But at the same time be true to our word about not letting things get out of hand."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/batavia-geneva-st-charles/news/ct-liquor-commission-byob-st-charles-tl-0129-20150124-story.html

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January 26, 2015
Montana
Liquor licenses capped out: Montana at limit under quota system
Helenair.com

Half a decade ago, Norbert Waldenmayer purchased an all-beverage license to be used in the Lion Building in downtown Helena.

Rose’s Cantina vacated the spot it occupied on the first floor before Waldenmayer owned the building, and he figured having a license ready would entice a new restaurant to fill the space.

No one moved in, and he entered a concession agreement for Buffalo Wild Wings to use the license, but the wing franchise purchased its own in February 2013.

Documents from the Montana Department of Revenue show Buffalo Wild Wings paid $575,000 for the all-beverage license.

Waldenmayer’s license has been on the market ever since.

Capped by Montana’s quota system, economic gains are driving up the license prices.

“When we hit the great recession, the values got cut in half in most markets throughout the state, that’s the market driving what people are willing to pay for the price of the license,” said Mike Hope, president of the Montana Tavern Association.

For instance, Chili’s Grill & Bar in Helena bought an all-beverage liquor license for $360,000 during the recession in 2007, according to DOR records.

Montana has three main types of licenses available for businesses. An all-beverage license allows the holder to sell liquor, beer and wine for consumption off site or on site between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. Beer and wine licenses allow an establishment to sell beer or wine without food. Cabaret licenses were created in 1997 to allow establishments that serve patrons food to also sell beer and wine.

Under the 1947 quota system, each city receives five all-beverage licenses for the first 3,000 residents. Then one license for each additional 1,500 people. Any establishment already with a license was grandfathered in when the law was created, so although the combined population of Helena and East Helena allows for 24 all-beverage licenses, the area actually has 42 licenses holders.

Helena would have to gain 27,000 people to even have a proportionate number of people for the number of licenses.

Though the licenses are limited, Hope said Montana, with 1,455 all-beverage licenses, actually has more liquor licenses per capita than any state in the country except North Dakota.

He added that he doesn’t think the ceiling is limiting the industry’s growth. In fact, he said it’s growing equivalent with the rest of the state economy, or even faster.

Steve Morris, Jorgenson’s Restaurant owner and past president of the MTA, called the quota system “well respected.”

Morris said some tavern or restaurant owners are against the quota system, but he added there is a “disconnect” between people who think alcohol should be available anywhere but want to crack down on the social issues.

“We didn’t create the quota system, we just live within the rules that are created,” Morris said.

Regulation, he said, is the “best policy” because “there needs to be a limitation” on potentially harmful products like alcohol.

Shauna Helfert, state Liquor Control Division administrator, said there have been few changes to Montana’s system over the last decade.

The number of cabaret licenses increased, anyone who owns a liquor license must be trained and recent legislation allowed one person to own multiple all-beverage licenses.

Waldenmayer said his idea to buy a license hasn’t proved fruitful yet, but he’s hopeful the changing economy will bring in a restaurant that wants to buy the license.

“I think it will be a very valuable thing when the supply and demand diminishes,” Waldenmayer said.

http://helenair.com/news/local/liquor-licenses-capped-out-montana-at-limit-under-quota-system/article_e90f5928-033c-5e49-801d-b1a85935b4b1.html

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January 23, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
More than 1,200 new business licenses were issued by Perimeter cities in 2014
Reporternewspapers.net

Statistically, the message appears to be mixed. More new businesses opened in Sandy Springs last year than the year before, but the number of startups are flat in Brookhaven and down in Dunwoody.

According to business license records from the three cities, 1,203 new businesses opened in the Perimeter area during 2014, up from 1,168 the year before. Business owners are trying all sorts of things: some cut hair or sell wigs; others teach yoga or etiquette; still others program computers.

The No. 1 category for new businesses in all three cities was for professional, scientific or technical services, such as computer programming.

The No. 2 category varied from city to city. Personal service businesses and retailers such as nail salons or dry cleaners tied with retail and health care as the second most popular categories in Sandy Springs, the most populous of the three cites. Retail sales, including online stores, were the second most popular category in Dunwoody. And businesses such as restaurants or hotels led the second category in Brookhaven.

Reporter Newspapers examined the new business license records from the three cities and talked to some of the entrepreneurs behind the startups.

Jennifer Hazelton, a former television journalist, started her new company, called Crocus, last summer. She came home to Dunwoody from Washington, D.C., to open her woman’s clothing company because she thought she’d spend less money getting started in Georgia. She offers high-end women’s clothing and sells it only online.

“I have had a desire to start my own company from a very early age,” Hazelton said. She thought about opening a clothing business in 2008, she said, but after the recession hit, she put her plans on hold. “The idea just didn’t leave me alone,” she said. “I decided to go ahead and do it. I made the decision to take the leap of faith or the plunge off the cliff, however you want to describe it. And here we are, six months in.”

http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2015/01/23/1200-new-business-licenses-issued-perimeter-cities-2014/

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January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/lackawanna-to-crack-down-on-ghost-businesses-20150120

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January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses'
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/lackawanna-to-crack-down-on-ghost-businesses-20150120

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January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/lackawanna-to-crack-down-on-ghost-businesses-20150120

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January 22, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
Sandy Springs Approves Veritiv Corporation Incentive Package
Sandy Springs Patch

A new company slated to move into Sandy Springs will have one less thing to worry about as part of their plans to open new corporate offices.

The Sandy Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a request from Veritiv Corporation to waive building permit and business occupational tax — commonly known as business license — fees for its relocation to Northpark 400.

Veritiv’s capital investment into the build-out of the space is estimated at $4.2 million, making it eligible to receive the city’s Tier II incentive package. That level calls for companies to make investments ranging from $1 million to $5 million, bringing between 26 and 99 jobs at or above the average wave level for Sandy Springs — $66,092 — and a minimum of a seven-year lease commitment.

The Tier II incentive will grant Veritiv a total of $166,450 in fees that will be waived for the company’s move.

Broken down, the building fee waiver amounts to $16,450 and the request to waive business license fees comes out at $75,000 for both 2015 and 2016.

Veritiv in December announced plans to move into 68,000 square feet space owned by Cousins Properties at Northpark Town Center. The new offices will be home to roughly 125 to 150 of Veritiv’s senior leadership and corporate support functions.

According to its website, Veritiv was established in 2014 following a merger of International Paper Company’s xpedx division and Unisource Worldwide, Inc. The Atlanta-based Fortune 500 Company employs about 9,500 employees across more than 170 distribution centers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Council members also were treated to a check presentation from Sandy Springs Conservancy to the city to match funds provided by the Department of Natural Resources, which would be used in building a walking trail at Lost Corner Preserve.

City leaders also approved a contract with Tople Construction to perform the Powers Ferry Road sidewalk project in the amount of $443,140.85. The approval is pending approval by the city attorney and Finance Department.

http://patch.com/georgia/sandysprings/sandy-springs-approves-veritiv-corporation-incentive-package

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January 20, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
Veritiv Wants Building Permit, Business License Fee Waiver From Sandy Springs
Patch.com

A company that has its eye on relocating to Sandy Springs has petitioned the city to waive two sets of fees.

Veritiv Corporation has submitted an application to receive a waiver of building permit fees and a two-year waiver of occupational tax — commonly known as business license — fees for its relocation to Northpark 400.

The Sandy Springs City Council will consider the request at its Tuesday, Jan. 20 meeting. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Sandy Springs City Hall.

The waiver was submitted under the city’s Economic Development Incentive Policy, which was adopted in October 2011.

Veritiv in December announced plans to move into 68,000 square feet space owned by Cousins Properties at Northpark Town Center. The new offices will be home to roughly 125 to 150 of Veritiv’s senior leadership and corporate support functions.

According to its website, Veritiv was established in 2014 following a merger of International Paper Company’s xpedx division and Unisource Worldwide, Inc. The Atlanta-based Fortune 500 Company employs about 9,500 employees across more than 170 distribution centers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Council members will also consider approving a contract with Tople Construction to perform the Powers Ferry Road sidewalk project in the amount of $443,140.85 (pending approval by the city attorney and Finance Departments).

The Council meeting will take place in Building 500 at City Hall, which is at 7840 Roswell Road.

http://patch.com/georgia/sandysprings/veritiv-wants-building-permit-business-license-fee-waiver-sandy-springs

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January 20, 2015
Hilton Head, SC
U.S. Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Hilton Head business tax
IslandPacket.com

The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear a plea from a Hilton Head Island company challenging how the town collects business-license fees.

The high court on Monday denied a request to review Kigre Inc.'s appeal of a ruling in June that upheld the town's practice. The court did not give a reason for the decision.

Last summer, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled the town does not violate the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause by charging Kigre a fee based upon its revenue. Kigre, a laser-component manufacturer on Marshland Road, has argued it should not have to pay the full amount since most of its revenue is from out-of-state customers.

"While disappointed, Kigre accepts the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court," said Tom Taylor, Kigre's attorney. "(The company) will abide by it."

Town officials have defended the practice, citing previous state court rulings that affirmed municipalities can impose the fees -- no matter where the sales occur.

"We're obviously very pleased that the position of the town and (previous court) orders ... have been upheld," town attorney Greg Alford said.

The Supreme Court was unlikely to hear the case. It receives about 10,000 requests for review each year and only accepts 70 or 80, or less than 1 percent, according to its website.

But the high court's denial won't end the nine-year legal battle between the company and the town.

Kigre still plans to pursue pending legal action in federal and state courts, Taylor said.

In federal court, Taylor has asked U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt Jr. to reactivate Kigre's lawsuit against the town. The company said it paid "excessive" business license fees -- about $87,000 -- from 2007 to 2012. The town denies the claims, arguing that many similar issues have been decided in court.

Blatt halted the lawsuit pending a decision in the Supreme Court case. Taylor said the case could be restarted within three months.

In a state lawsuit filed last month, Kigre protests paying $12,000 from 2013 to 2014. Taylor said the fees were twice what the town should have charged.

"This was entirely based on animosity and discrimination from town staff," Taylor said Tuesday. "This is not about the money at issue. This is a matter of principle."

The town has not filed a response to the lawsuit. Alford said Wednesday the town denies the claims and will respond within the next week.

"We expect a similar outcome as those that have already been litigated," he said.

Meanwhile, Kigre is still considering moving off Hilton Head, Taylor said. He said the company is "actively exploring sites in and out of state," but declined to say where.

The move would take 50 jobs from the island, he said.

"Considering the type of business development the county wants to attract -- high-paying, tech jobs -- Kigre is disappointed in the town's continued fight," Taylor said. "Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, that will likely bring the decision (whether to move) to a head."

http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/01/15/3539195/us-supreme-court-wont-hear-challenge.html

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January 19, 2015
Boston, MA
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh refiles bills to reduce regulations on local businesses, extend city's bar hours past 2 a.m.
MassLive.com

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is backing 56 different bills at the start of the new legislative session, including one that would allow the city's bars to stay open well past their current 2 a.m. last call.

Walsh, with the help of Belmont State Sen. William Brownsberger and Dorchester State Rep. Evandro Carvalho, refiled a bill called An Act Modernizing the Business Licensing Process to not only allow bars to stay open as late as 4 a.m., but to do away regulations on things like billiards tables and fortune tellers.

The push to extend the hours that bars can legally serve in Boston is part of a broader effort by Walsh's administration that began soon after he took office to make the city more appealing to young professionals.

“After 17 years in the legislature and now as mayor of Boston, I see the impact Boston has not only on the region but on the Commonwealth,” Walsh said in a statement.

With the help of North End State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, Walsh is pushing a second major change to the city's liquor regulations that would reform the way punishments for violations are issued. The current system requires owners to shut down for a day or lose their license, but if Walsh has his way the city will be able to financially penalize companies instead of force them to close down for a day or permanently. The mayor's office said in a statement that the current system unfairly penalizes bartenders and servers for the failures of their bosses.

The state laws overseeing Boston's liquor licensing go back decades and are seen by some as extremely outdated. Walsh's previous efforts to extend the city's serving hours failed in the last session, but At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley's effort to increase the number of liquor licenses available to the city by 75 was approved as part of the massive economic development bill passed by the legislature last July.

Walsh is pushing changes to how the city taxes online travel sites that sell hotel rooms, how blighted properties are defined, and seeking the ability for the city to lower the speed limit in residential neighborhoods from 30 miles per hour to 25.

http://www.masslive.com/news/boston/index.ssf/2015/01/boston_mayor_marty_walsh_refil.html

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January 16, 2015
Columbia, SC
Richland County business owners reminded to renew business license
Columbia Star

As the new year unfolds, Richland County business owners are reminded to renew their business licenses and are encouraged to do so online in order to save time and receive a discount.

All Richland County business licenses expired December 31, 2014. It’s important for business owners— especially those who operate out of homes—to understand the necessity of securing an up-to-date Richland County business license.

“Obtaining a business license is important not just because it’s required but because it represents a ‘seal of approval’ from the county, informing potential customers the business is operating lawfully and complying with regulations that help ensure the safety and quality of life for everyone,” said Pam Davis, director of the Richland County Business Service enter.

The deadline for acquiring a 2015 business license is March 15.

Businesses can quickly and easily renew their licenses by taking advantage of the Richland County Business Service Center’s (BSC) online resources. The BSC website offers online renewal, as well as a checklist for ensuring all information is gathered before beginning the process. A comprehensive set of instructions help guide business owners through the online renewal process, and they will receive a $10 discount off the renewal fee for using the website.

“Many businesses will wait until the last minute to renew, resulting in longer waits, higher call volumes, and penalties if the paperwork is incomplete,” Davis said. “To help businesses avoid these, the county is pleased to offer online renewals to businesses for their convenience, allowing them to obtain their business licenses sooner, avoid parking and long lines, and receive a $10 discount. It’s a win-win opportunity.”

In addition to business license renewal, the BSC website offers a wealth of information for Richland County business owners, including a Richland County Business Handbook, a listing of relevant county codes, ordinances and amendments, important events and deadlines, and a list of currently licensed businesses.

To renew Richland County business licenses online, click here or visit www.rcgov.us/bsc. For more information, email bsc@rcgov.us or call 803-576-2287.

http://www.thecolumbiastar.com/news/2015-01-16/Government_%7C_Neighborhood/Richland_County_business_owners_reminded_to_renew_.html

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January 15, 2015
Carson City, NV
Sandoval seeks new business license fee to raise $430 million
Las Vegas Review Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to seek a new business license fee based on gross receipts to raise about $430 million over two years to pay for his proposals to improve public education in Nevada, the Review-Journal has learned.

The fee would be levied in 30 different business categories and would be in addition to the existing Modified Business Tax, or payroll tax. But one change said to be part of the tax plan would be to charge the mining industry the 2 percent payroll tax rate now charged to banks rather than the 1.17 percent rate assessed for most businesses.

In addition, Sandoval in his Thursday State of the State address is expected to ask businesses to file data with the Department of Taxation so the impact of a services tax could be analyzed. There would be no immediate plans to implement a tax on services, however.

A package of taxes set to expire on June 30 this year, generally referred to as the “sunset taxes,” would also continue for another two years and would bring in about $650 million. The package includes higher payroll taxes for the state’s largest employers, a 0.35 percentage point sales tax increase and a $100-a-year increase in the business license fee.

All told, about $1.2 billion in additional tax revenue would be generated in Sandoval’s tax plan, which will require a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature. Both houses are controlled by Republicans.

He will also need support from the business community, including retailers, mining and gaming, among others.

The additional funding would allow the governor to deal with other budget demands, including mental health and Medicaid, in addition to his focus on public and higher education.

With $1.2 billion in additional revenue, total general fund spending over two years would exceed $7 billion and would allow him to seek funding for projects such as the new medical school proposed at UNLV. The initial funding request is about $30 million for the project.

Sandoval will announce details of his 2015-17 budget, and how he wants to pay for it, in a statewide televised address at 6 p.m. Thursday.

While the revenue side of Sandoval’s new budget has been shrouded in mystery, the governor has made no secret that his priority for the new budget, and for the remainder of his new four-year term as governor, will be improving public education.

Sandoval has kept the details of how he will accomplish his goal secret as well, saying Tuesday only that he will present a “comprehensive” approach to improving education in his address.

“What I want to do is to identify a plan to improve the delivery of education in Nevada for the benefit of our K-12 students as well as higher education,” he said. “It’s going to be a comprehensive approach to education.”

But school choice, most likely through an opportunity scholarship program giving businesses a tax credit for contributing to a scholarship fund, is expected to be part of his overall plan. The money would be distributed on a means-tested basis, allowing students at low-performing schools to attend the school of their choice.

He is also expected to push for more charter schools as part of his reform plan.

But he also wants funding for efforts to ensure that students can read by third grade, with holding them back as an alternative, and for expansion of the “Teach for America” program to bring new teachers into the classroom.

Part of the reform plan is expected to include a new funding formula approved by an interim legislative committee over the summer. The recommendations are that the formula include at least 50 percent more in per pupil spending on students in poverty or with limited English proficiency.

The Clark County School District is expected to be the biggest beneficiary from the proposed change to the state public education funding formula because of its higher populations of the weighted groups.

Some lawmakers and policy groups argue that the state can fund critical needs while still living within its means.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think thank, says that if Sandoval and lawmakers pursue tax reform it should be on a revenue-neutral basis. Current tax revenues in Nevada are already more than adequate to provide high-quality government services, the group says.

But many others believe that short of some revenue producing changes to Nevada’s tax structure, it will be tough for Sandoval to follow through on his inaugural address theme of dedicating his next four years to helping Nevada’s schoolchildren succeed.

This includes Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who on Monday said he hopes to approve a plan by March that would raise new revenue for education.

“We are not funding education adequately in this state,” Roberson said.

“We cannot continue to be near the bottom of most rankings,” he added, referring to low graduation rates and other measures of Nevada students’ skills compared to other states. “We know we need education funding and education reform. I know the governor will lead on this.”

Getting a tax plan through the Legislature is always a challenge, but it is even more so this year because of a divided Republican-controlled Assembly, which was handed the keys to power in a surprise sweep on Nov. 4. The 25-member GOP caucus has a “no tax” contingent and a more moderate group that is willing to consider new revenue as a way to balance the state budget.

The divisions have led to threats of recalls, ousters of conservatives from leadership roles in the Assembly and much bitterness.

But there is also a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans who want to increase funding for public education.

The legislative session begins Feb. 2 and is scheduled to conclude by June 1.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/sandoval-seeks-new-business-license-fee-raise-430-million

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January 14, 2015
Brighton, CO
Adams Co. has 60 applications for marijuana businesses; 2 weeks to go
Denver Post

Adams County has received 60 applications to open a marijuana business in its unincorporated areas since it began accepting candidates Jan. 2.

The county is holding an open lottery system until Jan. 22 to select 10 applicants to proceed to the state licensing process.

The lottery system is open to anyone. Applicants don't need prior experience in the industry, and they don't need to live in Adams County to be considered in the drawing, which will happen Jan. 27.

An application is available on the Adams County website. Applicants must turn it in in person by 4 p.m. Jan. 22 at the planning department on the first floor of the Adams County Government Center at 4430 S. Adams County Parkway in Brighton.

The 10 facilities will include three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility.

The three-member Board of County Commissioners opted to let a 16-month ban on retail marijuana operations in unincorporated parts of the county expire Dec. 31. On Jan. 13, two new board members for Adams County Districts 4 and 5 — Jan Pawlowski and Steve O'Dorisio — will be sworn in and allowed to weigh in on the new regulations.

So far, the county has 35 applications for store owners, 10 applications for cultivation facility operators, 13 applications for marijuana product manufacturers and two applications for testing facility operators.

Medical marijuana is still illegal in unincorporated parts of the county.

The 10 selected applicants have six months after the drawing to get a state license, building permit and change-of-use permit for their business. If a lottery winner doesn't have all of that within six months, the county will tap the next name that was pulled from the lottery, and that person would begin the same process to open.

Both the cap of 10 businesses and the lottery system will be in effect only through 2015. After that, the county may consider more stores and facilities as long as there is enough space for them to abide by the setback rules that the Board of County Commissioners adopted Dec. 16.

Those distance parameters include a 1,000-foot retail store buffer from schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, and public housing facilities, and a 50-foot boundary from residential property. Manufacturing facilities for marijuana-infused products must stay 1,500 feet away from of any residential area.

All retail stores also have to be 750 feet away from each other.

http://www.denverpost.com/adamsco/ci_27282879/adams-co-has-60-applications-marijuana-businesses-2

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January 14, 2015
Farr West, UT
Farr West cracks down on non-compliant businesses
Standard.net

Several businesses have been out of compliance with city ordinances and face possible loss of license, says Planning Commissioner John Stewart.

He said during a recent city council meeting that the planning commission has met again with owner of Wisco Blocks and Pavers, Cory Wilkes, and said his site plan did not agree with the city ordinance as far back as June 2013. Wisco, at 2202 N. 2000 West, resolved one problem in 2014 by removing an out-of-compliance sign, but Wilkes was still not willing to meet other requirements, Stewart said. He did not put in a required fence and has not put in asphalt, according to Stewart, and in spite of being given more than a year to comply with the city ordinance, Wilkes has not.

“I recommend you not renew his license,” said Stewart. “He has been given a letter listing what he needs to do.”

“I take issue with everything you have said,” Wilkes responded.

He said the business had experienced a tough year, and putting a fence down the middle as the city is requiring won’t do anybody any good. He said there is a fence all around the business and said the asphalt that is not there is really the only issue. He also said he knows there are other businesses out of compliance in the city and all businesses should be held to the same standards. He said he felt he has been singled out because he is a fairly new business and residents had complained about possible traffic and dust.

Councilwoman Ava Painter said she has been in the meetings with the planning commission and Wilkes, and said, “This has been going on for two years now, there are others on the radar and we are working with them. You have not met the milestones agreed to in the meetings.”

“We gave you a license, we have bent over backwards for you, now it’s our fault?” said Councilman Paul Dinsdale, “We have wasted enough time on this issue.”

Dinsdale said the city should not renew Wisco’s license. Council members agreed to put the Wisco license issue on the next council agenda.

Stewart said Farr West Motors, 1025 N. 2000 West, is also at risk of losing its license. A site plan is needed and there has also been an additional building added. Stewart said the vehicles that are being parked on grass are not in compliance with the ordinance and said City Attorney Ryan Shaw has sent a letter to the business, and the owner did come in and get a site plan application and paid a business license fee, but there is no actual site plan. Stewart said the planning commission recommends denying the license for Farr West Motors at this time.

Councilman Tom Burkland said Utah Furniture Direct, another business under scrutiny, had its state tax license revoked eight months ago, and then the business changed hands.

Mayor Lee Dickemore said Heritage Ranch is another business not in compliance. He said landscaping has not been installed, and the site lacks a hard surface as required. Burkland said he has seen the site plan for Heritage Ranch and it looks nothing like what is actually there.

“They are in the same category as Farr West Motors and Wisco,” said Burkland.

Council members agreed to look further into the state of each of these businesses.

http://www.standard.net/Business/2015/01/13/Farr-West-cracks-down-on-non-compliant-businesses.html

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January 14, 2015
Wetumpka, AL
Wetumpka city leaders admit mistake, rescind business license fee increase
WSFA.com

Controversy surrounding the city of Wetumpka's business license fees has been resolved, for now.

After the city approved a business license rate increase last month, some business owners saw their license fees skyrocket up to 2,000%.

Wetumpka city leaders and business owners gathered at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to address the controversy.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis admits he made a mistake and says he had to go back to square one to fix the problem.

The City Council voted unanimously to rescind the rate increase, amending the old ordinance and taking those business license fees for 2015 back to what business owners paid in 2014.

Willis says the city hasn't made a change to the fee structure since 2007 and they adopted the process to move forward in 2015, basing the new rates on gross receipts that they didn't have.

"So we came together, met with the business people three different times, had discussions and realized, we can fix this and we need to fix this and find some common ground then in which to move forward in 2016 with a new schedule with increments in it that would increase but not as drastically,” said Mayor Willis.

The mayor praised the city's professionalism during the ordeal and said if anything, it opened a dialogue between businesses and city leaders.

Business owners we spoke with were overall happy with the decision made Tuesday, saying the city did the right thing by listening to its citizens.

City council members say the rate increases are meant to account for inflation so the city can continue offering city services.

http://www.wsfa.com/story/27842328/wetumpka-city-leaders-admit-mistake-rescind-business-license-fee-increase

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January 12, 2015
PA
Pennsylvania Passes Ruling For Home Delivery of Beer
WTRF.com

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is allowing businesses with retail liquor licenses to legally deliver alcohol to Pennsylvania resident's front doors. In order to make home deliveries, businesses must also obtain a transporter-for-hire license.

Officials say the application for the transporter-for-hire licenses costs $700, in addition to a $160 license fee for the Class B license permitting delivery of malt or brewed beverage.

According to The Express-Times of Easton, the PLCB has set certain limits to the new rule. In order to be eligible for beer delivery, customers are required to pay at the licensed establishment, which can be done via credit card over the phone.

Deliveries are only allowed within Pennsylvania and are limited to 192 ounces, or a 12-pack of 16-ounce cans. Wine and liquor are ineligible for delivery.

The PLCB reports that 19 license holders as of Wednesday had requested permission to begin home delivery of beer.

http://www.wtrf.com/story/27816867/pennsylvania-passes-ruling-for-home-delivery-of-beer

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January 8, 2015
Wetumpka, AL
Wetumpka business owners upset over increased license fees
WSFA.com

It's the talk of the town in Wetumpka, especially for business owners.

Business license fees have increased this year, some are seeing an increase of 1,000 to 2,000 percent. The fee increase was passed unanimously in a regular board meeting last month, but owners aren't happy.

Several owners and managers met Wednesday to figure out a game plan to change it. City leaders say it's a done deal, but that's not stopping people from fighting.

Terry Styron is the owner of Riverside Chevrolet in Wetumpka and he's not too happy about the new business license fee. His company's license fee went from $585 to $11,500.

"That is somewhere around a 1,200 percent increase," claimed Styron.

He's not the only one affected, several business owners say this could really put a damper on their company and those they employ. They believe this will ultimately hurt the entire city.

"What's it going to do to attract new businesses when they find out the licenses are so high," questioned Styron.

Wetumpka Paint and Body manager, Brad Price, added this change will affect the customers price.

"Inevitably it's going to cost the consumer," Price said. "Unfortunately times are tough for everybody, let alone to add more expenses to us that we will have to pass along to the consumer."

Brooke Poague is an attorney and co-owner of Bailey and Poague, she says, "We give thousands of dollars a year to the local schools, to baseball fields, to the little leagues. Several people have said when the kids show up at the door this year, I'm just going to have to tell them I can't because this is cutting into what I set aside for that ever year."

City leaders, however, say the increase was way past time. According to city attorney Regina Edwards, the fee hasn't gone up since 2007.

"All businesses are provided with police protection, fire protection, the infrastructure paid for by the city, new streets, all of that benefits our businesses. The only contribution they make to that, if they are just a business owner in the city, is their business license," claimed Edwards.

Edwards says the new system, based on gross receipts, treats everyone fairly and is right in line with surrounding municipalities.

"If we had gone up every year we would have a lot more money but now we are just trying to break even and get to where we need to be," stated Edwards. "We are doing a lot of renovation in the infrastructure, we have applied for grants, all those grants require matching funds. It will help facilitate the improvements we need to make in the downtown area."

Many owners agree that an increase was needed, but should have been done gradually so businesses could budget it for the year.

"We need to get in line with everybody else and be competitive, I agree with that but it needs to be a gradual increase, where it just doesn't hurt everybody," said Price.

Business owners at Wednesday's meeting said they are willing to do whatever it takes, including possibly suing the city.

This rate should stay the same for at least five years, with no increases. Leaders do suggest business owners to contact the city and make sure everything is calculated correctly and businesses aren't being charged too much.

http://www.wsfa.com/story/27787486/wetumpka-business-license-fee-skyrockets

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January 8, 2015
Pine Bluff, AR
Pine Bluff Businesses Given 30 Days to Pay Delinquent Permits or Shut Down
ArkansasMatters.com

The city of Pine Bluff has given businesses operating without current permits an extended 30 days to either pay up or close.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth discussed the issue during Monday's council meeting. According to records, some businesses were a year to four years behind on payments. Hollingsworth said the previous administration did not enforce the law, which was why businesses were able to continue to operate.

"I think that our city is just like any other city. You do have businesses that will be behind," Hollingsworth said. "The problem is is that in the past they have not actively pursued these businesses."

Hollingsworth said when her administration took over they re-routed data to a new computer system and discovered 240 businesses that were delinquent.

The City Collector office said some of the businesses were no longer open and others paid. It was currently in the process of updating the list, which it said was tentative.

Owner of Garfield's Restaurant and Pub, Mike Denney said he had made it a priority to pay his permit to be removed from the list. He said he worked out a payment plan with the city.

"Communication is the key, you know, don't wait until the last minute because that's what hurts you," he said.

While he admitted it was hard to stay current on permit payments and that businesses should pay their dues, he said he didn't think threatening to shut delinquent businesses down was the best approach.

"It's not good for cities especially cities that are hurting for business that to go around and shut down businesses."

Hollingsworth said she didn't want businesses to close, but had to follow the law.

"So we're wanting to make sure that that list is right and hopefully be proactive with this," she continued. "And let them know that you've got to bring it current in order to do business just like all the other businesses that we have in our city."

The deadline to pay for business licenses is February 8.

http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/d/story/kark/28212/kNCQC7guE0O5Q40vRaEbvw

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January 7, 2015
Washington, DC
FAA grants permits for agriculture, real estate drones
SunHerald.com

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.

The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for "crop scouting," and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use its 1.5-pound, fixed-wing eBee drone to make photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and look for pests. The aim is to save farmers time walking through fields. The drone also can carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye, which can help determine which fields need watering.

Trudeau's exemption authorizes him to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to "enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos," the FAA said.

Real estate companies have been eager to gain permission to use drones to photograph and make videos of pricey properties.

The permits require that drone operations include both a ground "pilot" and an observer, that the pilot have at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and that the drone remains within line of sight of the operator at all times.

Before these approvals, the FAA had granted 12 exemptions to 11 companies involved in the oil and gas, filmmaking, landfill and other industries.

As of today, the FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

The agency is under pressure from Congress, the drone industry and companies that want to use drones to provide broader access to U.S. skies. FAA officials had said they hoped to propose regulations to permit general commercial use of small drones by the end of 2014, but that deadline has slipped.

Industry forecasts predict drones will create tens of billions of dollars in economic development and create thousands of new jobs once commercial use is permitted, but an Associated Press poll conducted in early December found Americans are skeptical of the benefits of heralded drone revolution.

Thirty-three percent of Americans oppose using drones to monitor or spray crops, while another third support it. Only 27 percent of Americans favor using drones for aerial photography. Privacy and safety are key concerns.

FAA officials say preventing potentially deadly collisions between drones and manned aircraft is their top priority. The agency receives reports nearly every day of small drones flying in the vicinity of manned aircraft and airports even though that's not permitted.

http://www.sunherald.com/2015/01/06/6003359_faa-grants-permits-for-agriculture.html?rh=1

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