Public Comments for 01/26/2021 General Laws - ABC/Gaming Subcommittee
HB1738 - Alcoholic beverage control; local outdoor refreshment areas.
Last Name: Gilbert Locality: Abingdon

From 2018-2020, I was owner of a fine dining restaurant in Abingdon, VA. When Covid-19 hit, like all restaurants, we grasped at straws to make up for a deficit of a 70-80% of our normal sales. As a fairly new business, we were just getting our feet underneath us when it all fell out. Two of the things that helped us during that time were community business members collaborating and being able to do to-go, especially with alcohol sales. We utilized our small outdoor space to its capacity, but that was limited. When hearing about the bill being presented to create outdoor beverage areas, I think about how, with capabilities to serve alcohol in these designated areas, we could have survived this pandemic without being forced to permanently close. As we begin a new venture running a culinary school and event venue at Southwest Virginia Community College , we understand the importance of bringing our community together for cultural events. Having the capability to have these outdoor beverages areas open up opportunities for us to host a variety of community events in an area of Southwest Virginia that lacks diverse food and culture events. This will allow our students to become cultural ambassadors of the area they live in and build experience to become leaders and entrepreneurs of the next generation. I fully support these outdoor beverage areas and attest they will be an important step to build the cultural economy of our home.

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Eads Organization: City of Bristol Locality: ABINGDON

HB 1738 provides localities another tool to help with economic revitalization during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It's imperative we give every small business the resources and tools to help them sustain themselves during this economic downturn. Bristol relies, heavily, on our restaurants and the taxes they provide to sustain our general fund. By approving the ORA legislation, this legislation not only helps the small business it also helps localities with tax revenue that may otherwise disappear. Thank you, Randy Eads City of Bristol City Manager/Attorney

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park

My name is Ross Snare and I represent the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and its 1200+ Members. On behalf of our membership, we strongly urge you to support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three pieces of legislation will allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). In one of our localities, the City of Manassas, we have successfully run such a program and it has been a boon for not only our hospitality industry members, but for all businesses. These pieces of legislation (HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266) would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. Again, we have seen the amazing success that this program has had on our community prior to COVID, and during these trying times, our small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, need everything they can to survive. We strongly urge you to support these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Townsend Organization: The Old Town North Community Partnership Locality: Fairfax

I am writing in support of HB 1735, HB 1738 ,1784 and 1809. I am President of the Old Town North Community Partnership The Old Town North Community Partnership, a 501-c4 Sponsors a Farmer’s Market and supports local small businesses and local farms. Our sense is these House Bills will support local businesses, wineries and farms an that house bill 1809 will streamline the administration of small , not for profits with limited budgets.

Last Name: Hall Organization: Old Town Business Association Locality: Alexandria

We are writing to support these bills which would endorse and allow local outdoor refreshment areas. The time has come for us to create a new way of expanding our ABC licensed restaurants into a collaborative experience of an outdoor refreshment area. Last year, due to the arrival of COVID, the 100 block of King Street was transformed into a pedestrian walkway with outdoor dining on the sidewalks and in the former parking spaces. This 3 month trial was so successful, it is on it's way to become a permanent fixture. We would welcome the opportunity to expand into a "refreshment area", complete with support from the local ABC personnel and an endorsement from the Alexandria City Council. The local outdoor refreshment area would be a great boost for the small business community in other areas of Old Town, Del Ray, and Carlyle. Both the retail and the restaurant community would benefit from the outdoor refreshment area. The refreshment area concept encourages a festive and welcoming atmosphere, which can be planned and implemented in a timely manner with collaborative partners of Va ABC, City of Alexandria, and the local small business associations. COVID encouraged us to collaborate more, and we did, and we survived to thrive.

Last Name: Durkin Organization: Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Roanoke

The Roanoke Regional Chamber supports this bill. HB 1738 will provide a boost to our restaurants/small businesses at a time when they most need it. This type of "outside of the box" thinking is necessary in order to get our economy back up and running.

Last Name: Reynolds Organization: Hampton Roads Chamber Locality: Chesapeake

My name is Emily Reynolds and I am the Executive Director of Governmental Affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber. We are a pro-business organization serving over 1,200 members. On behalf of our members, we ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three bills would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services. Even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The Hampton Roads Chamber supports this legislation. We respectfully ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266.

Last Name: Taylor Organization: City of Alexandria Locality: Alexandria

The City of Alexandria supports legislation to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws in order to ensure our small, local businesses can be competitive in the region. In addition, the City supports these bills which will provide localities with flexibility and authority to implement creative ways to support our local restaurants and businesses. These bills would allow localities like Alexandria to practically and safely expand the footprint of many of our struggling restaurants when indoor dining space is limited during the current public health emergency. Beyond the challenges of COVID-19, these bills will give localities across Virginia another "tool in our toolbox" as we think creatively about placemaking in our communities and about the planning, design and management of our public spaces. The authority afforded in these bills can play a vital role in future development efforts in our community as we work to capitalize on Alexandria’s unique assets, support and cultivate our local restaurants and small businesses, and reimagine and reinvent public spaces across our community. Sarah Taylor, Legislative Director City of Alexandria

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 1738, HB 2051, and HB 2266, allowing the creation of local outdoor refreshment areas. The Arlington Chamber supports simplifying the multitude of ABC laws for the benefit of the community. The past year has forced a rethinking of how we apply our outdoor space, including for restaurant service. The outdoor refreshment areas proposed by these bills will allow localities to support our restaurants in competing for business and serving their customers. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its devastating impact on restaurants, allowing outdoor refreshment service will provide an important boost for this vital industry. We encourage the committee to report these three bills.

Last Name: Allwine Organization: Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Fredericksburg

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation. Restaurants, retail, and other local businesses are not in a sustainable position without measures like this to further stimulate economic value. Give localities the choice to govern their needs.

Last Name: Haggerty Organization: Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Locality: Alexandria

Comments from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce on Alcoholic beverage control; Local Outdoor Refreshment Areas The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce supports HB1738 -- Alcoholic beverage control, local outdoor refreshment areas. The Chamber has long championed measures to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws to ensure that the Commonwealth can compete with neighboring jurisdictions and this bill is key in making the Commonwealth more competitive. Allowing localities the option to create outdoor refreshment areas is a needed tool for our restaurants, who have born a disproportionate impact from COVID-19, to activate innovative consumer directed services that will drive customers to their establishments and neighboring businesses.

Last Name: Harding Organization: Economic Leaders of Southwest Virginia Locality: Wise

COVID 19 has reminded all of us that supporting jobs, especially for those who are entering the job force or beginning careers is so very important. For many young people or those who seek to enter the job market, entry level positions in the restaurant and hospitality industry has been the cornerstone of establishing their ability and character in the workplace. The businesses in this segment of industry have been devastated by COVID19. Any life preservers that our society can provide while seemingly small to some can be the difference between a small profit (and staying open) or continuing to lose money and permanently shutter the doors. Another aspect of this legislation is to continue the modernization of Virginia Laws which will allow for local communities to develop strategic resources to develop tourism, especially outdoor tourism here in SWVA. Thank you for supporting and voting for legislation that adds to the Assembly's commitment to help Virginia and its citizens recover from the deadly disease and its pale cast over our communities. Most Sincerely, Leton. L. Harding, J. Chairman, President & CEO Powell Valley National Bank

Last Name: Lisk Organization: Cozen O'Connor Locality: Richmond

VRLTA asks you to support House Bill No.s 1738 (Wampler), 2051 (Bourne) & 2266 (Ayala) creating Outdoor Refreshment Areas (“ORAs”): Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services, balancing state restrictions with public health concerns. But even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. One smart solution that legislators are considering would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas,” also referred to as ORAs. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. VRLTA also asks you to support House Bill 1879 (Bulova) continuing the sale of mixed beverages to-go for one additional year. The restaurant industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. Like many other states, Virginia halted indoor dining in the early months. And even after the Governor approved limited indoor dining, patrons often have been reluctant to come inside. As of early December, 17% of restaurants nationally—110,000—have closed either permanently or for the long term. Currently, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing the sale of cocktails to-go and Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and D.C. have made cocktails to-go permanent. Off-premise alcohol sales in conjunction with the sale of food have been a much-needed revenue stream for struggling restaurants and bars over the past year. The added revenue represents an average of 10% of restaurants off-premise sales. That has enabled some restaurant owners to bring back one or two laid-off staffers. And the change has become quite popular with consumers. Continuation of innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it will help these businesses hang on during this COVID-19 emergency. VRLTA asks you to oppose House Bill 2136 (Batten) which creates a new “Mobile Retailer” license for the sale of wine and beer. VRLTA has concerns about the lack of provisions to allow for adequate oversight by Virginia ABC over the sale of alcoholic beverages by these mobile vendors concerning where and when alcohol may be sold. VRLTA is further concerned that the bill would allow mobile vendors to unfairly compete with restaurants that have more stringent requirements imposed regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages, including minimum food sale requirements.

Last Name: Harveycutter Locality: Salem

I am very much in favor of these bills to allow "outdoor refreshment areas" in our communities. Localities are not required to offer these areas but may if they so desire. I fully believe there is sufficient policing included in the bill that these areas could operate safely throughout the participating cities, counties and towns. Thank you for your consideration

Last Name: Easter Organization: ChamberRVA Locality: Chesterfield

ChamberRVA supports this bill. An outdoor refreshment area seems like a good way to support additional economic activity for restaurants that have been so challenged by COVID. It will also provide a fun, but controlled, environment for patrons.

Last Name: Van Doorn Organization: Downtown Business Assn of Charlottesville Locality: Charlottesville

On behalf of the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville, I am writing to express our support for HB 1738, which would allow localities to designate local outdoor refreshment areas, zones where the consumption of alcoholic beverages, purchased from a licensed vendor, would be permitted. The benefits, economically and culturally, of such a designation, are clear. Even before the current COVID crisis, smaller and locally owned business districts have faced numerous and increasing headwinds, whether those presented to brick-and-mortar retailers by both “box” stores and by the rapid growth of online shopping, or restaurants combatting both franchises and such digital platforms as GrubHub and DoorDash. These headwinds not only adversely impact smaller, locally owned businesses, but have a detrimental effect on the downtowns and business corridors where these businesses are often concentrated. These same cities are, at the same time, faced with increasing pressures from developer-planned business districts—outdoor shopping centers and the like. Why shop at the locally owned store, or buy coffee from the locally owned café, when parking is much easier and brands are more recognizable, at the new shopping center? Though it is not my intention to deny such developments their place in local economies, their growth has created an extremely challenging landscape for independent retailers and restaurants. Furthermore, many shopping centers, located as they are on large, privately held land, already enjoy the benefits of newly-relaxed regulations with regard to alcoholic consumption. Allowing licensed establishments in non-development business districts enjoy some of the same benefits enjoyed elsewhere will give a much needed boost to local business districts, and would be a step towards leveling the playing field. And at stake is not simply the survival of independent operators; this measure would ultimately help the communities that the smaller businesses are part of. Because, in the end, smaller, locally-owned businesses are much more integrally connected to the communities that they serve, and are often equally bound to the people that they employ, and that they partner with: the local farmers, producers and suppliers that form the area’s ecosystem. Our Business Association specifically represents Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall and its surrounds, so I will use this district as an example. The Downtown, at its best, is a vibrant, thriving part of the city. It is much more than simply a commercial district. Street entertainers and vendors, families, artists—all find a way to be part of the beating heart of Charlottesville. Allowing the outdoor festival an extra element, allowing folks to wander in and out of establishments, spreading the wealth as it were, and enjoying the sights with a drink in hand, would go a long way towards breathing new life into what has long been an important part of the community.

Last Name: Heath Organization: Town of Marion Locality: Marion

As Director of Marion's Office of Community and Economic Development, and as Marion's first Main Street director, in my 25 plus years experience in this business, this is indeed the most difficult time of all. Delegate Wampler's HB 1738 will provided local latitude to help our struggling economies creatively build back from the pandemic shutdown. I have the privilege of working with communities across our Commonwealth, and know their struggles and their celebrations, because I have worked side by side with many of them. This local option is a way our General Assembly can help us all, by allowing each locality to uniquely decide what - if any - works for them. It helps put more responsibility in the laps of locally elected officials to determine our future, and that's never a bad thing. Marion hosts a huge summer festival every year, the third weekend in July. A couple years back, we were allowed to have our restaurants establish beer gardens on Main Street, adjacent to their storefront, for the duration of the festival. Not only did that increase attendance tenfold, it also provided a huge boost to our local businesses - the restaurants with the beer gardens, of course - but with all those businesses that were frequented by crowds coming earlier, staying longer, and milling around. I join Delegate Wampler in asking for your support of HB 1738, and allowing each locality in our Commonwealth to be able to decide for themselves on Local Outdoor Refreshment Areas. I certainly will work here in my community to make it happen!

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: CITY OF ROANOKE Locality: City of Richmond

The City of Roanoke is very supportive of these bills because they will help Roanoke restaurants recover when restrictions on capacity are lifted post-pandemic and people still feel more safe remaining outdoors. It also would overcome a huge obstacle to the renovation and repurposing of the historic Fire Station No. 1 at the Roanoke Farmers Market.

Last Name: Beatty Organization: Bone Fire Brands Inc Locality: Abingdon

I am writing in support of HB 1738. Having been a downtown redeveloper, an owner of restaurants and music venues for 27 years, I am sure of it's positive economic impact not just for on-premise ABC licensees like myself but also other non ABC retailers in the ORA. The examples are numerous of communities successfully utilizing existing regulations to allow public consumption in controlled settings. By instituting a couple of simple requirements such as wrist-banding and cups with point of purchase marked clearly, communities can easily control alcohol and it's consumption. Virginia will also be able to better compete with surrounding states for tourist dollars as well as providing a much needed additional opportunity for a revenue stream for ABC permittees. We could use something like this in a lot of places.

HB1843 - Charitable gaming; increase in certain maximum allowable prize amounts.
Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

HB1879 - Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine.
Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: DiFranco Organization: Principle Advantage Government Relations Group Locality: Norfolk

On behalf of the Virginia Sprits Association (VSA), we join VRLTA in asking you to support HB1879, and continue allowing mixed beverages to-go. We thank Delegate Bulova for sponsoring HB1879 making Virginia the 13th state to introduce legislation to extend cocktails-to-go or to make the service permanent. With an estimated 372,000 restaurant and bar jobs lost in month alone, it is no surprise that states such as Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Texas are all seeking to take action to continue to support the hard-hit restaurant industry. Iowa , Ohio, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia have made cocktails-to-go permanent recognizing that consumer dining and mobility patterns are changing with many increasingly choosing to have meals delivered to their homes. VSA also commends the Virginia ABC for their work on this issue which has proven to be a lifeline for small Virginia restaurant owners – many of which are family-owned businesses . This service has also leveled the playing field for all types of alcohol sold through restaurant dining off-premises orders. Virginia’s ABC has joined other states by putting strict guidelines in place to ensure the safety of our citizens. Drinks are required to be transported in containers with a tamper-proof seal,. Sets limits on the numbers of drinks allowed to be ordered “to-go”, and requires meals to be purchased with drinks from restaurants – further increasing a revenue stream for our small businesses. Again, we thank Delegate Bulova for offering HB1879 and we ask the members of the committee to support this important bill to help support Virginia businesses during this cold season where outdoor dining revenue is a reliable source of business.

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce urges your support for HB 1879, continuing for another year the sale of mixed beverages for takeaway service. Restaurants are now approaching a year of severely limited, if any, in-person service on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Takeaway beverage service has cut into some of the losses sustained during this time. Continuing this service for another year will support restaurants as they work to return to full service. Moreover, customers have come to enjoy takeaway beverage service safely and our neighbors in the District of Columbia have made it permanent. As such, we believe that continuing this service will serve Virginia restaurants and patrons well and encourage the committee to report this bill.

Last Name: Lisk Organization: Cozen O'Connor Locality: Richmond

VRLTA asks you to support House Bill No.s 1738 (Wampler), 2051 (Bourne) & 2266 (Ayala) creating Outdoor Refreshment Areas (“ORAs”): Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services, balancing state restrictions with public health concerns. But even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. One smart solution that legislators are considering would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas,” also referred to as ORAs. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. VRLTA also asks you to support House Bill 1879 (Bulova) continuing the sale of mixed beverages to-go for one additional year. The restaurant industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. Like many other states, Virginia halted indoor dining in the early months. And even after the Governor approved limited indoor dining, patrons often have been reluctant to come inside. As of early December, 17% of restaurants nationally—110,000—have closed either permanently or for the long term. Currently, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing the sale of cocktails to-go and Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and D.C. have made cocktails to-go permanent. Off-premise alcohol sales in conjunction with the sale of food have been a much-needed revenue stream for struggling restaurants and bars over the past year. The added revenue represents an average of 10% of restaurants off-premise sales. That has enabled some restaurant owners to bring back one or two laid-off staffers. And the change has become quite popular with consumers. Continuation of innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it will help these businesses hang on during this COVID-19 emergency. VRLTA asks you to oppose House Bill 2136 (Batten) which creates a new “Mobile Retailer” license for the sale of wine and beer. VRLTA has concerns about the lack of provisions to allow for adequate oversight by Virginia ABC over the sale of alcoholic beverages by these mobile vendors concerning where and when alcohol may be sold. VRLTA is further concerned that the bill would allow mobile vendors to unfairly compete with restaurants that have more stringent requirements imposed regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages, including minimum food sale requirements.

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Alexandria City

Very supportive of this bill. We own and operate six restaurants in the City of Alexandria and have found that our customers are very appreciative of this option. Frankly it has even provided an edge for our Mexican restaurant (Tequila & Taco) so that it has actually shown a 5% increase in sales over last year. An incredible achievement during the pandemic. For the benefit of our customers and sustainability of our staffs please make this bill happen. Mike Anderson

HB1973 - Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of banquet licensees.
Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

HB2051 - Alcoholic beverage control; local outdoor refreshment areas.
Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park

My name is Ross Snare and I represent the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and its 1200+ Members. On behalf of our membership, we strongly urge you to support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three pieces of legislation will allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). In one of our localities, the City of Manassas, we have successfully run such a program and it has been a boon for not only our hospitality industry members, but for all businesses. These pieces of legislation (HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266) would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. Again, we have seen the amazing success that this program has had on our community prior to COVID, and during these trying times, our small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, need everything they can to survive. We strongly urge you to support these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Hall Organization: Old Town Business Association Locality: Alexandria

We are writing to support these bills which would endorse and allow local outdoor refreshment areas. The time has come for us to create a new way of expanding our ABC licensed restaurants into a collaborative experience of an outdoor refreshment area. Last year, due to the arrival of COVID, the 100 block of King Street was transformed into a pedestrian walkway with outdoor dining on the sidewalks and in the former parking spaces. This 3 month trial was so successful, it is on it's way to become a permanent fixture. We would welcome the opportunity to expand into a "refreshment area", complete with support from the local ABC personnel and an endorsement from the Alexandria City Council. The local outdoor refreshment area would be a great boost for the small business community in other areas of Old Town, Del Ray, and Carlyle. Both the retail and the restaurant community would benefit from the outdoor refreshment area. The refreshment area concept encourages a festive and welcoming atmosphere, which can be planned and implemented in a timely manner with collaborative partners of Va ABC, City of Alexandria, and the local small business associations. COVID encouraged us to collaborate more, and we did, and we survived to thrive.

Last Name: Reynolds Organization: Hampton Roads Chamber Locality: Chesapeake

My name is Emily Reynolds and I am the Executive Director of Governmental Affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber. We are a pro-business organization serving over 1,200 members. On behalf of our members, we ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three bills would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services. Even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The Hampton Roads Chamber supports this legislation. We respectfully ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266.

Last Name: Taylor Organization: City of Alexandria Locality: Alexandria

The City of Alexandria supports legislation to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws in order to ensure our small, local businesses can be competitive in the region. In addition, the City supports these bills which will provide localities with flexibility and authority to implement creative ways to support our local restaurants and businesses. These bills would allow localities like Alexandria to practically and safely expand the footprint of many of our struggling restaurants when indoor dining space is limited during the current public health emergency. Beyond the challenges of COVID-19, these bills will give localities across Virginia another "tool in our toolbox" as we think creatively about placemaking in our communities and about the planning, design and management of our public spaces. The authority afforded in these bills can play a vital role in future development efforts in our community as we work to capitalize on Alexandria’s unique assets, support and cultivate our local restaurants and small businesses, and reimagine and reinvent public spaces across our community. Sarah Taylor, Legislative Director City of Alexandria

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 1738, HB 2051, and HB 2266, allowing the creation of local outdoor refreshment areas. The Arlington Chamber supports simplifying the multitude of ABC laws for the benefit of the community. The past year has forced a rethinking of how we apply our outdoor space, including for restaurant service. The outdoor refreshment areas proposed by these bills will allow localities to support our restaurants in competing for business and serving their customers. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its devastating impact on restaurants, allowing outdoor refreshment service will provide an important boost for this vital industry. We encourage the committee to report these three bills.

Last Name: Haggerty Organization: Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Locality: Alexandria

Comments from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce on Alcoholic beverage control; Local Outdoor Refreshment Areas The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce supports HB2051 -- Alcoholic beverage control, local outdoor refreshment areas. The Chamber has long championed measures to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws to ensure that the Commonwealth can compete with neighboring jurisdictions and this bill is key in making the Commonwealth more competitive. Allowing localities the option to create outdoor refreshment areas is a needed tool for our restaurants, who have born a disproportionate impact from COVID-19, to activate innovative consumer directed services that will drive customers to their establishments and neighboring businesses.

Last Name: Lisk Organization: Cozen O'Connor Locality: Richmond

VRLTA asks you to support House Bill No.s 1738 (Wampler), 2051 (Bourne) & 2266 (Ayala) creating Outdoor Refreshment Areas (“ORAs”): Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services, balancing state restrictions with public health concerns. But even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. One smart solution that legislators are considering would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas,” also referred to as ORAs. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. VRLTA also asks you to support House Bill 1879 (Bulova) continuing the sale of mixed beverages to-go for one additional year. The restaurant industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. Like many other states, Virginia halted indoor dining in the early months. And even after the Governor approved limited indoor dining, patrons often have been reluctant to come inside. As of early December, 17% of restaurants nationally—110,000—have closed either permanently or for the long term. Currently, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing the sale of cocktails to-go and Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and D.C. have made cocktails to-go permanent. Off-premise alcohol sales in conjunction with the sale of food have been a much-needed revenue stream for struggling restaurants and bars over the past year. The added revenue represents an average of 10% of restaurants off-premise sales. That has enabled some restaurant owners to bring back one or two laid-off staffers. And the change has become quite popular with consumers. Continuation of innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it will help these businesses hang on during this COVID-19 emergency. VRLTA asks you to oppose House Bill 2136 (Batten) which creates a new “Mobile Retailer” license for the sale of wine and beer. VRLTA has concerns about the lack of provisions to allow for adequate oversight by Virginia ABC over the sale of alcoholic beverages by these mobile vendors concerning where and when alcohol may be sold. VRLTA is further concerned that the bill would allow mobile vendors to unfairly compete with restaurants that have more stringent requirements imposed regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages, including minimum food sale requirements.

Last Name: Harveycutter Locality: Salem

I am very much in favor of these bills to allow "outdoor refreshment areas" in our communities. Localities are not required to offer these areas but may if they so desire. I fully believe there is sufficient policing included in the bill that these areas could operate safely throughout the participating cities, counties and towns. Thank you for your consideration

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: CITY OF ROANOKE Locality: City of Richmond

The City of Roanoke is very supportive of these bills because they will help Roanoke restaurants recover when restrictions on capacity are lifted post-pandemic and people still feel more safe remaining outdoors. It also would overcome a huge obstacle to the renovation and repurposing of the historic Fire Station No. 1 at the Roanoke Farmers Market.

HB2131 - Alcoholic beverage control; license application, locality input.
Last Name: Ibinson Locality: Arlington

My name is Julie Ibinson. Our family of four lives on 9th St S in Arlington behind the 3200 block of Columbia Pike and in close proximity to the former Purple Lounge. In the time span of less than a year, there were three shootings related to this establishment. There have also been other related early morning criminal activities such as the robbery of a tow truck driver at gunpoint, assault, drug use, and stolen cars. These are the things we are aware of. Our family has been woken up at 4am on countless nights from loud music, as well as from the parties that spill out to the alley and street afterward. The night of the last shooting was particularly rowdy. The next morning, the situation hit even more close to home when Arlington County police officers went house-to-house on the south side of 9th St S to search our backyards—where our children play—for a possible discarded weapon. We were astonished that the Purple Lounge was able to reopen soon after as if nothing had happened. The most frustrating thing regarding these incidents is that it seemed impossible to truly hold this establishment accountable. Yes, they had their liquor license suspended for a few days (in other words, a slap on the wrist), but then they were back at it. By the third shooting, they finally had a list of conditions to keep their license, but violated it right off the bat and were back to business as usual in less than two weeks. Our neighborhood association, which deemed this establishment a public nuisance, had multiple meetings with County Board members regarding this public safety issue, and while they were doing what they could to help, it seemed that where real action was concerned their hands were tied. That's why we support this bill that gives localities a chance to provide input into matters that directly affect them, and thank Delegate Lopez for working tirelessly to protect the citizens. To be perfectly honest, while we're relieved that the Purple Lounge is no longer operating at this location, we're afraid of what will come next based on this location's history. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The VCBG opposes HB2131 - it will unrealistically extend the compliance authority to local government and increase costs and uncertainty for licensed independent craft breweries. The organization respectfully requests the following amendments: 1. On lines 55 and 128: maintain the addition of the words “or administrative” after “law-enforcement”; 2. On lines 56 and 129: delete the words “or conditional recommendations”; 3. On lines 57 and 129-130: delete the words “or 45 days if the locality has requested an extension”; 4. On lines 57-59 and 130-131 delete the words: “The Board shall give reasonable consideration to any objection or recommendation submitted by the locality pursuant to this paragraph.”

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

HB2136 - Alcoholic beverage control; mobile retailer license created.
Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park

My name is Ross Snare and I represent the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and its 1200+ Members, and we support the legislation. Providing small businesses in the hospitality industry the opportunity to expand their capabilities is always a plus and especially during these challenging times when they have seen an increased burden placed on their capacity. We urge you to support the legislation.

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2136. Allowing mobile retailers will serve to simplify the process for securing special events licenses, which may help promote locally-produced beverages at community events, benefitting Virginia producers. We encourage the committee to report the bill.

Last Name: Allwine Organization: Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Fredericksburg

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation. We support the legislation because: It provides another avenue of revenue generation for the Commonwealth Creates a viable path for new businesses to form in the Commonwealth It allows these mobile carts to hold liability for the serving of the beverages at events, conferences, meetings, etc.

Last Name: Lisk Organization: Cozen O'Connor Locality: Richmond

VRLTA asks you to support House Bill No.s 1738 (Wampler), 2051 (Bourne) & 2266 (Ayala) creating Outdoor Refreshment Areas (“ORAs”): Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services, balancing state restrictions with public health concerns. But even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. One smart solution that legislators are considering would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas,” also referred to as ORAs. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. VRLTA also asks you to support House Bill 1879 (Bulova) continuing the sale of mixed beverages to-go for one additional year. The restaurant industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. Like many other states, Virginia halted indoor dining in the early months. And even after the Governor approved limited indoor dining, patrons often have been reluctant to come inside. As of early December, 17% of restaurants nationally—110,000—have closed either permanently or for the long term. Currently, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing the sale of cocktails to-go and Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and D.C. have made cocktails to-go permanent. Off-premise alcohol sales in conjunction with the sale of food have been a much-needed revenue stream for struggling restaurants and bars over the past year. The added revenue represents an average of 10% of restaurants off-premise sales. That has enabled some restaurant owners to bring back one or two laid-off staffers. And the change has become quite popular with consumers. Continuation of innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it will help these businesses hang on during this COVID-19 emergency. VRLTA asks you to oppose House Bill 2136 (Batten) which creates a new “Mobile Retailer” license for the sale of wine and beer. VRLTA has concerns about the lack of provisions to allow for adequate oversight by Virginia ABC over the sale of alcoholic beverages by these mobile vendors concerning where and when alcohol may be sold. VRLTA is further concerned that the bill would allow mobile vendors to unfairly compete with restaurants that have more stringent requirements imposed regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages, including minimum food sale requirements.

HB2164 - Tobacco; prohibits person from selling product at retail without license from ABC Authority.
Last Name: Quinby Organization: Tobacco Free Alliance of VA Locality: Fairfax County

Statement of the Tobacco Free Alliance of Virginia Before the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee Virginia House of Delegates February 1, 2021 Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: Tobacco retail licensing (“TRL”) is an essential part of enforcing tobacco laws at retail. H.B. 2164 will establish a framework for enforcement the Commonwealth now lacks, so it can begin actively enforcing the state and federal Tobacco 21 laws. The Facts • Virginia passed a “Tobacco 21” law two years ago to address the skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use. A year later, Congress passed Tobacco 21 and made it the Law of the Land. Per FDA guidance, all states are now required to enforce Tobacco 21. • Virginia is not enforcing Tobacco 21 and is putting kids’ lives and state-received SAMHSA block grant dollars at risk each year it waits to enact an enforcement program. • Enforcement of tobacco retail laws is most effective through a TRL. Virginia doesn’t even have a current or complete list of who’s selling tobacco or nicotine products at retail. • H. 2164 would create a retailer database and framework for effective enforcement, including penalties and license suspension for retailers who sell unlawfully. • TRL laws level the playing field for retailers who obey the law by penalizing those who don’t. • Virginia is one of only NINE states that does not require tobacco retailers to obtain a license. • Current retailer violation rates have climbed. For the last full year data was available (2018), Virginia’s retailer violation rate (RVR) was close to 17%. Since enforcement efforts have been suspended (both due to COVID-19 restrictions and the absence of a statewide enforcement program), the violation rate is likely much higher now. • If Virginia fails to demonstrate an annual tobacco retailer violation rate of under 20%, the Commonwealth eventually risks losing more than $4M in federal substance abuse block grants from SAMHSA ($4 M is 10% of its annual SABG). The General Assembly is painstakingly considering how the legalized cannabis laws will work in Virginia, and these new laws will include significant retailer licensing fees and fines. Tobacco use causes more harm than marijuana ever has and costs Virginia in thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent each year. In the original bill last year, the fiscal note likely would have been close to zero as an annual license fee paid by retailers would fund and sustain the program. We took that fee out of the bill this year due to concerns for small businesses. However, a license fee appears necessary if we are to pass meaningful legislation that achieves its goal of cost neutrality and enforcing Tobacco 21, which the state is required to enforce. We must continue the conversation about strong enforcement of Virginia’s tobacco sales laws and license all tobacco and nicotine retailers the way our neighbors do in Maryland and D.C.—and the way 40 other states do, as well. We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road. Thank you for your attention to this important issue for all Virginians.

Last Name: Jennifer Faison Organization: Virginia Association of Community Services Boards Locality: Richmond

The VACSB strongly supports HB2164. Virginia receives federal block grant funds for tobacco prevention efforts. Over the years, the use of those funds has been expanded to include vaping and other nicotine delivery vehicles. In order to maintain the funding, CSB prevention programs have to identify each tobacco vendor and vape shop in Virginia so that they can engage in prevention activities with them. This identification effort is arduous. HB2164 would allow the CSBs to access an accurate list of vendors as opposed to having to identify them by driving around looking for them. The time saved on identification efforts can be spent on the engagement efforts that are needed to keep the block grant funds in place in Virginia as well as use them more efficiently.

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: Casper Organization: American Lung Association Locality: Newark

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on behalf of the American Lung Association in Virginia in regards to HB 2164 by Delegate Hope. The American Lung Association strongly supports HB 2164, which would create a licensing program for tobacco retailers in Virginia. We are asking that you vote yes, at the upcoming ABC/Gaming Subcommittee meeting. Currently, Virginia does not require tobacco and e-cigarette retailers to obtain a tobacco retail license. Virginia is one of 9 states that do not have a Tobacco Retail License. Without a comprehensive tobacco retail license program, Virginia cannot effectively enforce, educate, monitor, or penalize illegal sales of tobacco products. According to data strong retail licensing requirements have been found to reduce youth e-cigarette and tobacco use. HB 2164 would be a good step in implementing a tobacco retail license infrastructure in Virginia. HB 2164 would: • Require all retailers of tobacco and nicotine products to obtain a Tobacco Retail License through Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (ABC) and renew it annually • Establish a comprehensive list of all tobacco and nicotine retailers within the Commonwealth which we currently do not have. • Establish enhanced civil monetary penalties and outline license suspension and revocation provisions • Aligns definitions of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices in state code with federal definitions • Prohibits sales of tobacco and nicotine products from vending machines • Removes youth purchase, use and possession penalties, which target kids and have not been shown effective in reducing youth use of tobacco. The American Lung Association thanks you for the opportunity to share our comments on this proposed piece of legislation and encourages you to support a strong Tobacco Retail License in Virginia, by voting yes on HB 2164. If we can answer any additional questions or provide more information please feel free to contact me.

Last Name: Quinby Organization: Tobacco-Free Alliance of Virginia and Tobacco 21.org Locality: Fairfax County, Virginia

House 2164 is about two things: One, establishing a tobacco retail licensing requirement for every seller of tobacco and nicotine products in the Commonwealth, and two, establishing a penalty structure for those who break the law. No doubt you’ve heard this statistic: 95% of all smokers start before they’re 21. Most start much younger than that. Tobacco 21 laws are designed to reduce youth use and addiction by delaying the age of initiation. Tobacco retail licensing supports the enforcement of Tobacco 21 laws so they work to reduce youth initiation and use. In Virginia, not only are we not enforcing Tobacco 21, we don’t even have a complete list of who’s selling these products over the counter. H. 2164 will change that. The bill reflects many months of work and discussion between Delegate Hope, Public Health and the Tobacco Industry. All sides compromised and all stakeholders’ interests are reflected in the bill. Two years ago, the General Assembly passed a Tobacco 21 law to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The problem was we weren’t ready for a Tobacco 21 law because we had no infrastructure in place to enforce it. The result is our Tobacco 21 law is not being enforced, and retailer violation rates have climbed. For the last year data was available, which was 2018, our Violation Rate was close to 17%. Because of the absence of a comprehensive enforcement program in Virginia, the Violation Rate is likely higher now. This matters for two reasons: First and most important: our kids. Virginia youth continue to have easy access to tobacco and vaping products at retail. More kids addicted to tobacco and nicotine will mean more adult tobacco users and will continue to cost the Commonwealth in lives lost and billions spent in health care each year. The second reason is that one year ago Congress ALSO passed a Tobacco 21 law, keeping in it something called the "Synar Amendment," which requires states to demonstrate a retailer violation rate of NO MORE THAN 20% as a condition of receiving programmatic federal block grants. Virginia currently receives about $40M annually from SAMHSA in these block grants. If we don’t start enforcing Tobacco 21, we stand to lose more than $4M each year until we bring down our violation rates. Age of sale laws are most effectively enforced through a Tobacco Retail Licensing program. Most states understand this, but Virginia is one of only NINE STATES IN THE COUNTRY that does not require tobacco retailers to obtain a privilege license. Enforcing Tobacco 21 without licensing is next to impossible. H. 2164 will establish a framework for enforcement, after which the ABC can begin active enforcement. Identifying and penalizing those selling without a license or selling underage will level the playing field for all retailers by eliminating the unfair advantage rogue retailers now have over law-abiding retailers. Support for this bill is strong: 80 percent of Virginia adults surveyed believe all retailers should be licensed to sell tobacco and nicotine. Organizations who support H. 2164 include: The Tobacco-Free Alliance of Virginia, the Medical Society of Virginia, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and Tobacco 21.org.

HB2266 - Alcoholic beverage control; outdoor refreshment area license.
Last Name: Yu-Shan, Fausto Organization: Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. Locality: Lexington, Virginia

Please vote Yes, we support the breweries and believe the bills will benefit their businesses, as well, the local communities. Thank you.

Last Name: sipp Organization: Stone Brewing Locality: Richmond

We strongly support this legislature. HB2266 thank You!

Last Name: St Clair Organization: Swover Creek Farms Farm Brewery Locality: EDINBURG

I ask that the House vote YES to this bill with it's substitutions because localities will benefit greatly by encouraging people to visit their commerce areas and increasing tax revenue. It will also benefit local businesses including Virginia Craft Brewing. The amendments are a very workable accommodation which will allow localities to not limit commerce zones and make sure they can include all neighborhoods in the economic benefits.

Last Name: Anderson-Leichty Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Heathsville, Virginia

Please provide special consideration. The economy has placed an undue hardship for breweries and we could use some support to encourage patronage. This can have a direct impact on our survival. Please vote yes.

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild supports the creation of Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The VCBG also recommends the following amendments: 1. 3 areas may be too limiting for larger jurisdictions with multiple business centers. Would you consider 5? 2. The definition of container and size should be changed to “any ABC approved commercial packaging up to 32 ounces.” Most breweries don’t can their beer, but most have a “crowler” machine that cans 32 ounces. The ABC changed their regulations that allow for crowler consumption on-premise about 18 months ago. These changes will conform to existing ABC packaging regulations. 3. ½ square mile may be too small. Some regions in Virginia that are craft beer centric are Scott’s Addition – Richmond, Old Town – Alexandria, Old Town – Fredericksburg, Downtown – Leesburg, Ghent – Norfolk, Atlantic Blvd Area – Virginia Beach, Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Downtown – Danville, Downtown – Lynchburg, Main St – Bristol, Farmer’s Market Area – Roanoke, Downtown – Bedford. We have not had the opportunity to measure distances between our breweries that are in some of these business centers to ensure that no one is left out. 4. Perhaps consider an enactment clause to have ABC convene a working group to develop standardized signage and demarcation regulations for the geographic areas to ensure that localities uniformly apply the law for the benefit of consumers, retailers and brewers. 5. Perhaps consider a requirement that participating localities provide additional solid waste and recycling infrastructure to avoid litter?

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia Locality: Va Beach

I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier mkcrozier@gmail.com

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park

My name is Ross Snare and I represent the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and its 1200+ Members. On behalf of our membership, we strongly urge you to support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three pieces of legislation will allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). In one of our localities, the City of Manassas, we have successfully run such a program and it has been a boon for not only our hospitality industry members, but for all businesses. These pieces of legislation (HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266) would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. Again, we have seen the amazing success that this program has had on our community prior to COVID, and during these trying times, our small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, need everything they can to survive. We strongly urge you to support these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Hall Organization: Old Town Business Association Locality: Alexandria

We are writing to support these bills which would endorse and allow local outdoor refreshment areas. The time has come for us to create a new way of expanding our ABC licensed restaurants into a collaborative experience of an outdoor refreshment area. Last year, due to the arrival of COVID, the 100 block of King Street was transformed into a pedestrian walkway with outdoor dining on the sidewalks and in the former parking spaces. This 3 month trial was so successful, it is on it's way to become a permanent fixture. We would welcome the opportunity to expand into a "refreshment area", complete with support from the local ABC personnel and an endorsement from the Alexandria City Council. The local outdoor refreshment area would be a great boost for the small business community in other areas of Old Town, Del Ray, and Carlyle. Both the retail and the restaurant community would benefit from the outdoor refreshment area. The refreshment area concept encourages a festive and welcoming atmosphere, which can be planned and implemented in a timely manner with collaborative partners of Va ABC, City of Alexandria, and the local small business associations. COVID encouraged us to collaborate more, and we did, and we survived to thrive.

Last Name: Reynolds Organization: Hampton Roads Chamber Locality: Chesapeake

My name is Emily Reynolds and I am the Executive Director of Governmental Affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber. We are a pro-business organization serving over 1,200 members. On behalf of our members, we ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266. These three bills would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas” (ORAs). Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services. Even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. The Hampton Roads Chamber supports this legislation. We respectfully ask that you support HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266.

Last Name: Taylor Organization: City of Alexandria Locality: Alexandria

The City of Alexandria supports legislation to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws in order to ensure our small, local businesses can be competitive in the region. In addition, the City supports these bills which will provide localities with flexibility and authority to implement creative ways to support our local restaurants and businesses. These bills would allow localities like Alexandria to practically and safely expand the footprint of many of our struggling restaurants when indoor dining space is limited during the current public health emergency. Beyond the challenges of COVID-19, these bills will give localities across Virginia another "tool in our toolbox" as we think creatively about placemaking in our communities and about the planning, design and management of our public spaces. The authority afforded in these bills can play a vital role in future development efforts in our community as we work to capitalize on Alexandria’s unique assets, support and cultivate our local restaurants and small businesses, and reimagine and reinvent public spaces across our community. Sarah Taylor, Legislative Director City of Alexandria

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 1738, HB 2051, and HB 2266, allowing the creation of local outdoor refreshment areas. The Arlington Chamber supports simplifying the multitude of ABC laws for the benefit of the community. The past year has forced a rethinking of how we apply our outdoor space, including for restaurant service. The outdoor refreshment areas proposed by these bills will allow localities to support our restaurants in competing for business and serving their customers. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its devastating impact on restaurants, allowing outdoor refreshment service will provide an important boost for this vital industry. We encourage the committee to report these three bills.

Last Name: Haggerty Organization: Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Locality: Alexandria

Comments from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce on Alcoholic beverage control; Local Outdoor Refreshment Areas The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce supports HB2266 -- Alcoholic beverage control, local outdoor refreshment areas. The Chamber has long championed measures to modernize Virginia’s alcoholic beverage laws to ensure that the Commonwealth can compete with neighboring jurisdictions and this bill is key in making the Commonwealth more competitive. Allowing localities the option to create outdoor refreshment areas is a needed tool for our restaurants, who have born a disproportionate impact from COVID-19, to activate innovative consumer directed services that will drive customers to their establishments and neighboring businesses.

Last Name: Lisk Organization: Cozen O'Connor Locality: Richmond

VRLTA asks you to support House Bill No.s 1738 (Wampler), 2051 (Bourne) & 2266 (Ayala) creating Outdoor Refreshment Areas (“ORAs”): Restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses in the hospitality industry have had to rethink new ways to offer their services, balancing state restrictions with public health concerns. But even with these changes, restaurant operators in Virginia have reported steep declines in revenue during the last year. Many consumers who have previously chosen to stay home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 would partake in outdoor dining options cognizant of social distancing measures. One smart solution that legislators are considering would allow localities to define and permit “Outdoor Refreshment Areas,” also referred to as ORAs. These designated spaces, designed and sanctioned by localities voluntarily, allow drinking-aged individuals to gather outside safely to enjoy food and adult beverages. If passed, HB1738, HB2051, and HB2266 would permit any ABC restaurant licensee, brewery, distillery, or winery within an Outdoor Refreshment Area to allow their patrons to legally leave their establishment with alcohol and enjoy refreshments in the open air. ORA legislation would provide an optional revitalization tool for Virginia localities who choose to use them and an instant shot in the arm for businesses located within the designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. VRLTA also asks you to support House Bill 1879 (Bulova) continuing the sale of mixed beverages to-go for one additional year. The restaurant industry has been hit hard during the pandemic. Like many other states, Virginia halted indoor dining in the early months. And even after the Governor approved limited indoor dining, patrons often have been reluctant to come inside. As of early December, 17% of restaurants nationally—110,000—have closed either permanently or for the long term. Currently, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing the sale of cocktails to-go and Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and D.C. have made cocktails to-go permanent. Off-premise alcohol sales in conjunction with the sale of food have been a much-needed revenue stream for struggling restaurants and bars over the past year. The added revenue represents an average of 10% of restaurants off-premise sales. That has enabled some restaurant owners to bring back one or two laid-off staffers. And the change has become quite popular with consumers. Continuation of innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it will help these businesses hang on during this COVID-19 emergency. VRLTA asks you to oppose House Bill 2136 (Batten) which creates a new “Mobile Retailer” license for the sale of wine and beer. VRLTA has concerns about the lack of provisions to allow for adequate oversight by Virginia ABC over the sale of alcoholic beverages by these mobile vendors concerning where and when alcohol may be sold. VRLTA is further concerned that the bill would allow mobile vendors to unfairly compete with restaurants that have more stringent requirements imposed regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages, including minimum food sale requirements.

Last Name: Harveycutter Locality: Salem

I am very much in favor of these bills to allow "outdoor refreshment areas" in our communities. Localities are not required to offer these areas but may if they so desire. I fully believe there is sufficient policing included in the bill that these areas could operate safely throughout the participating cities, counties and towns. Thank you for your consideration

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: CITY OF ROANOKE Locality: City of Richmond

The City of Roanoke is very supportive of these bills because they will help Roanoke restaurants recover when restrictions on capacity are lifted post-pandemic and people still feel more safe remaining outdoors. It also would overcome a huge obstacle to the renovation and repurposing of the historic Fire Station No. 1 at the Roanoke Farmers Market.

End of Comments