PALMER – At the Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting Tuesday, Wasilla residents came out to support a resolution that couldn’t even be publicly commented on. Resolution 21-017, sponsored by MPs Sumner and Yundt, supports changes in state law to allow for greater local control over the licensing of alcoholic beverages.
“While municipalities can take measures to restrict the use of alcohol in their territory, local governments cannot decide at the same time whether more licenses for alcoholic beverages should be allowed in their municipalities,” says the information memorandum.
“Either delegating authority or providing a mechanism for local authorities to determine the appropriate number and types of licenses and permits for alcoholic beverages in their community will enable more effective licensing and permit regulation in our vast and diverse state.”
The resolution cites that Article X of the Alaskan Constitution refers to the intention of maximum local self-government and makes repeated comparisons with marijuana that allow for a positive effect of maximum local self-government. Jessica Viera, Executive Director of the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce, spoke passionately to the congregation. Viera said that local control is high on the chamber’s priority list each year.
“We have long seen the state impose population restrictions on alcohol permits that are an obstacle to business and should be in the hands of a community to decide how best to handle it,” Viera said. “Why, if Wasilla voted wet, we are told by the state that we can only be wet by limiting the number of licenses we can have.”
Viera pointed out that the Mat-Su district is one of the few areas in the state that has seen continuous growth that is not all within the Wasilla city limits.
“By telling the City of Wasilla that their licenses are limited by the number of people within their city limits when the population of Greater Wasilla is five times or more and that population is completely dependent on the city’s services and amenities, you are creating barriers to Companies and businesses restrict the free market, ”said Viera. “We’re starting to hit walls, those barriers to business, the biggest of which is the inability to access additional liquor licenses.”
Before the regular meeting of the congregation at 6:00 p.m., a special meeting at 4:00 p.m., school funding and debt securities were discussed. The former Mayor of Wasilla, Bert Cottle, attended both sessions and during the regular session spoke out in favor of Resolution 21-017, which opposed Senate Draft 9 submitted by Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna).
“A bad bill is a bad bill and that amounts to two words and that is local control. For the last 60 days the governor had said here that we should be in control in order to achieve our own economic development, our own goal. You talked about it at your 4 o’clock meeting and what our local control is and how it would affect the district’s economic development, ”said Cottle.
Introducing himself as a resident of Wasilla, Cottle scoffed at the 143 Anchorage licenses for beer and wine in restaurants and 119 licenses for vending machines.
“We should have our own local control,” said Cottle. “We should have a free market. We should have an open market.