House Panel Passes New Liquor License Plan

BOISE, Idaho — The House Judiciary Committee voted 8-6 to revamp Idaho’s 62-year-old system of distributing liquor licenses.

Rep. Steve Kren, who cast the deciding vote, minutes earlier had voted to kill the bill, but that fell short on a 7-7 tie.

Kren says he changed his mind because he wanted the full House to weigh in.

The measure, which has cleared the Senate, would do away with Idaho’s quota system, designed to promote temperance and morality. It now allows just a single, state-issued liquor license for every 1,500 people.

Proponents including aides to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter say the reforms would resolve years of problems, including a license bottleneck in slow-growing cities some blame for denting economic growth.

Some liquor license owners oppose the changes, however, on grounds new municipal licenses will hurt business.