FARMINGTON – Restaurants, bars and other hospitality establishments that provide alcohol on their menus can celebrate a small victory after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that will waive annual liquor license fees.
The bill, Senate Bill 2, waives the next annual fee for renewed liquor licenses and for all new licenses issued this year, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“License fees can range as high as several thousand dollars annually,” a news release said. “It is estimated the waivers will save businesses in New Mexico roughly $3.5 million in total.”
Scott Darnell, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce senior adviser for policy, planning and operations, said many of the restaurants and bars that would normally sell alcohol haven’t been able to do so much over the last year.
“It’s one of many ways that we can help businesses in this particular sector,” Darnell said. “They are the hardest hit sector in the state. They have the most complicated and challenging comeback route as well.”
For those reasons, Darnell said it “just makes sense” that this bill would go through.
“That is a good move,” said Farmington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jamie Church. “Our liquor laws in New Mexico are very prohibitive as far as new businesses getting liquor licenses. And I know that this bill doesn’t address that, but at least it’s a step up trying to help our restaurants to not have to pay those renewal fees this year, because (the fees) can be quite high.”
Church said the Farmington chamber is in support of any liquor law changes that will help small businesses.