An administrative law judge has recommended the suspension of the liquor licenses two bars in the first tests of the state smoking ban. Judge Margaret LaMarche is recommending the Alcoholic Beverages Division suspend the liquor license of Otis Campbell’s Bar & Grill in West Burlington for a minimum of 30 days, and the license of the Fro’s in Wilton for a minimum of 21 days.
The administrator of the Alcoholic Beverages Division, Lynn Walding, says the two bars won’t lose their licenses immediately, as the licensees have 30 days to appeal the judge’s recommendation, or Walding has the authority to rehear the matter. If the bar owners do not appeal and Walding takes no action, both bars would lose their licenses on February 9th for the recommended time.
Otis Campbell’s owner Larry Duncan and his lawyer argued in a hearing on the issue before LaMarche in November that Duncan should have been cited and given the opportunity to defend himself in court. Duncan said the state is using his liquor license as "the pawn" to get him to comply with the smoking ban, and said the ban is unconstitutional.
Wading says his decision depends on what the bar owners do next. Walding says he has not decided what he will do, but given the fact that there’s a constitutionality issue, the bar owner would have to appeal to him and then take the final agency decision on to the district court to address the constitutionality issue. These are two of four liquor license cases pending that involved the Smoke Free Air Act that went into effect in July.
Walding says the other two cases have proposed settlements that he has waited on until the decisions came back on the two cases that went to a hearing. Now that the rulings on the hearing have been presented, Walding says he’ll look at the proposed settlements in the other two case. Those cases involve the Whistle Stop Bar in Manning, and the Outer Limits in Des Moines.