ANNAPOLIS (March 15, 2019)—Beauty salons and barber shops in Queen Anne's County might be allowed to provide beer and wine to their patrons, if legislation passed by the Maryland Senate on Wednesday becomes law.
Senate bill 428 would allow cosmetology businesses in the county to purchase a beer and wine alcoholic beverage license, and then provide up to 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer "by the glass," during normal hours of business until 9 p.m., under the bill.
The bill does not explicitly state how salons and barbershops have to go about selling the beer and wine, so long as it is provided in conjunction with the service.
In Queen Anne's County, "They don't want drugs, but they want beer and a haircut," Senate President Mike Miller, D-Prince George's, Charles and Calvert, joked to the chamber on Wednesday.
The House version of the bill, House bill 476, received a favorable vote with amendments from the Economic Matters committee on Wednesday.
Maryland salons in Frederick County, as well as barber shops and salons in Montgomery County, can already obtain licenses that allow consumption of beer and wine on the premises.
Some barber shops and salons in Queen Anne's County told Capital News Service they occasionally give free beer or wine to customers. However, that is illegal, John McQueeney, chairman of the county's liquor board, said.
"It's one of those slap them on the hand," punishments for breaking the law, McQueeney said. "A lot of clients are offered a drink."
The legislation would require beer or wine to be sold as part of the price for a service provided, not separately, McQueeney said.
"Maryland is very heavy on regulation," and "businesses don't want to do the wrong thing," Sen. Stephen Hershey, Jr., R-Kent, Queen Anne's, Cecil and Caroline, sponsor of the Senate bill, said.
The legislation would assure all services in the cosmetology industry could pursue the sale of alcohol, Hershey said.
The owner of the license or employees at the establishment would need to have alcohol awareness training to distinguish minors, avoid over-serving, understand consequences of drinking and driving and learn the effects of alcohol on the body and behavior, under the bill.
The legislation would raise revenues in Queen Anne's county by $100 for each license bought, and may have a "meaningful" effect on small business due to a possible increase in revenue from alcohol sales, according to an analysis of the bill.
Businesses are giving free drinks already, and it seems relatively innocent, Philip Dumenil, Queen Anne's County District 3 commissioner, who voted for the bill said. "So let's legalize it, let's allow it, let's let them get a liquor license to do it legally."
The idea of providing salons and barber shops with alcohol licenses was originally given by the Queen Anne's County Liquor Board, in a response to requests from guests to those businesses, Dumenil said.
Queen Anne's County commissioners voted 4-1 to submit the bill to the legislature. James Moran, Queen Anne's County At-large commissioner, was the only member to vote against the bill.
"I don't think we need to have beer and alcohol everywhere we go," Moran said.
There are 46 beauty salons and nine barber shops in Queen Anne's County as of February, according to an analysis of the bill. Owners had mixed opinions on the legislation.
"I would totally get my liquor license, that would be great," Katie Arrabal, owner of Sublime Salon in Centreville, Maryland, told Capital News Service.
Restrictions on the amount of alcohol that can be served "sound extremely safe," as no one wants drinking and driving, Arrabal said.
It seems like the state is just trying to get more money from taxed alcohol, Kim Myers, owner of Britt's Barber Shop in Chester, Maryland, said.
The passage or failure of the bill will not affect the business, Myers said.
"We're just here to cut hair."