House panel OKs theater alcohol bill

Its passage would benefit Kiggins, Liberty theaters

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photoRep. Jim Moeller

OLYMPIA — The Kiggins and Liberty theaters are a step closer to being able to sell alcohol, even with minors present, in the fall.

House Bill 1001, which would let single-screen theaters sell beer and wine, passed out of committee Tuesday. It will next go to the House Rules Committee, and if it passes there, it most likely will go straight to the House floor for a vote.

"I'm glad it made this step, and I'm looking forward to the next few steps," said Dan Wyatt, owner of the Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver.

Rand Thornsley, managing director for the Liberty Theatre in Camas, echoed the sentiment.

"We are really happy that it is moving along in the House; we are hoping that we are fortunate in the Senate side," he said.

He hopes to have a beer and wine license by the fall.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, said he was optimistic about its future. "It's not likely to get stuck," he said. "I expect it to sail on through."

Moeller said that there appeared to be bipartisan support for the bill in both houses.

Thornsley expressed some concern that the bill might lag in the Senate, where it died last year.

Wyatt said he was hopeful. "I don't see problems in the Senate" he said. "We spoke with (Sen.) Don Benton directly, and he said he didn't see a problem with it."A companion bill, Senate Bill 5111, is currently being considered in the Senate. The bill is sponsored by Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and co-sponsored by Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and Ann Rivers, R-La Center.

The committee also passed House Bill 1008, which allows sales of hard cider, and 1009, which prohibits liquor being bought at self-checkout stands.