The first hearing on pulling a bar’s liquor license under the new state smoking ban has been delayed until October. The hearing will take place at the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in Ankeny. Division administrator, Lynn Walding, says there are range of sanctions if the bar is found to be in violation — and the establishment won’t necessarily lose its license to sell booze.
Walding says the sanctions include up to a $1,000 civil fine, suspension of the license for one year, or loss of the license. He says the administrative law judge at the hearing will make the decision. Walding says each side will get to make their case.
Walding says the Attorney General’s office will present the complaint, the license owner would get to present their side and make the argument that there wasn’t a violation or the violation isn’t constitutional. Walding says the first hearing and outcome will be unusual because it will likely set the stage for how other cases are handled.
He says the administrative law judge will make the proposed decision, then either side could appeal to him as the division administrator, or he could consider it on his own. If there is a violation or sanction, Walding says his agency would then issue the final agency action and the license holder could then take it to district court for judicial review.
Walding says there are several steps that are taken before the issue gets to the hearing stage. Walding says it’s complaint driven, and once the Iowa Department of Health gets a complaint, they do a visit. If there is a second complaint, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division then gets involved and does a site visit, "so there are numerous efforts to try and get the establishment to come in compliance with the law" prior to any complaints being filed.
The first hearing is set for October 15th for "Fro’s Pub and Grub" in Wilton. That establishment is owned by Brian Froehlich, president of the Iowa Bar Owners Coalition, which is suing the state seeking to overturn the law. The first action involving the smoking ban was brought against "Otis Campbell’s Bar & Grill" in West Burlington, and there was to be a hearing on that complaint today (September 29th), but that hearing has been delayed until October 31st.
Walding says there are two other bars that also face hearings — "Manning’s Whistle Stop bar in Clinton", and "The Outer Limits" in Des Moines.