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Establishing Liquor by the Drink and Package Stores

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Reviewed Date: October 19, 2018

Original Author: 
Darden, Don
Date of Material: 
Nov 20, 2003

Alcoholic beverages
Alcoholic beverages--Laws and regulations
Elections--Initiatives and referendums

Establishing Liquor by the Drink and Package Stores

MTAS was asked to outline the process of establishing liquor by the drink, including the option of packaged liquor stores.

November 20, 2003

FROM: Don Darden

SUBJECT: Liquor by the Drink

1. For liquor by the drink to be considered, a petition must be signed by at least 10% of the registered voters who voted in the most recent Governor’s election. [Sample Petition is enclosed]. The city board may not enact a resolution requesting a referendum. This action must be done by petition.

2. When the petitions are turned in to the county election commission, the election commission will conduct the referendum. [Question is included in this packet]. If you want a referendum on packaged liquor stores, simply change the wording on the petition and the question for the voters from “liquor by the drink” to “packaged liquor sales.”

3. If the petitions are signed, the election commission conducts the election, and the referendum passes, then the city would enact an ordinance for on site consumption. Two different ordinances are included for your review. I have also enclosed several legal opinions on issues related to this.

4. Counties are authorized to conduct referenda on liquor by the drink and/or liquor sales. When a county conducts such an election it only applies in the unincorporated areas, and only voters in the unincorporated areas may vote.


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Information written by MTAS staff was based on the law at the time and/or a specific sets of facts. The laws referenced may have changed and/or the technical advice provided may not be applicable to your city or circumstances. Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information posted to this website.