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Understanding more about Ohio's regulatory bodies: the Liquor Control Commission

To the average person, the State of Ohio Liquor Control Commission may seem like just another governmental entity tasked with matters beyond their control or otherwise of little consequence. To restauranteurs, bar owners and liquor store operators, however, it is an agency that casts a long shadow over their affairs and wields considerable power.

That's because the Liquor Control Commission, a neutral and independent agency, has the authority under state law to hear appeals from orders or actions taken by the Division of Liquor Control, as well as to conduct hearings concerning liquor license suspensions and liquor law violations.

In fact, while the average person may think the Commission handles matters beyond their control or of little consequence, consider that it is also responsible for promulgating standards, requirements, orders and rules regarding:

  • Liquor production
  • Sales restrictions
  • Liquor advertising
  • Minimum sale prices
  • All other matters concerning the manufacture, sale and distribution of wine, beer and spirits¬†¬†

Interestingly enough, state law dictates that the Commission must review all of its rules at a minimum of every five years in order to definitively determine whether they should continue without change, undergo certain amendments or be rescinded.

Indeed, approximately six months prior to the scheduled review date for the rule(s), the Commission will gather to do the following:

  • Make a preliminary determination as to whether a rule should be continued without change, amended or rescinded
  • Examine whether the rule should be amended or rescinded to eliminate unnecessary paperwork
  • Decide whether the rule overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with other laws or existing rules
  • Resolve whether input from interested parties will be accepted prior to the rule review date and during the actual hearing

What all of this really serves to underscore is that the Liquor Control Commission, much like many other of the state's regulatory agencies, is a truly powerful governmental entity. As such, any business owners who find themselves in the unenviable position of potentially losing their liquor license or having otherwise run afoul of existing regulations should strongly consider speaking with a legal professional with significant experience in the always complex area of administrative law.

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