Liberty Theatre owner lobbies for beer and wine sales

Rand Thornsley testifies in Olympia

Liberty Theatre ownerRand Thornsley

Rand Thornsley believes more people would see films at the Liberty Theatre, in downtown Camas, if they were allowed to drink beer and wine there.

As the owner of the theater, he thinks a beer and wine license would also increase sales from current patrons.

Thornsley took his message to Olympia, Thursday, to testify in favor of House Bill 1001 during a hearing in front of the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. The bill, which would create a new beer and wine license for theaters, died in the Senate last year after passing in the House.

Rep. Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver) has re-filed the bill. The annual license fee would be $400 for theater owners to sell beer or wine on the premises.

The bill would require an “alcohol control plan” be submitted, that would show control measures used to ensure minors are not able to obtain alcohol or be exposed to “environments where drinking alcohol predominates.”

Thornsley said he would consider allowing patrons to consume beer and wine in a 21 and older area in the balcony of the main theater and in the Granada Studio.

“If the demand for that area exceeds what is available, we may consider portioning off part of the main auditorium at a later date,” he said. “That would depend on demand and the Liquor Control Board rules.”

The owners of the Kiggins Theatre, in downtown Vancouver, Dan Wyatt Sr. and Dan Wyatt Jr., also testified. They traveled to Olympia on their own with their attorney.

Others who testified on behalf of the legislation included some theater operators from the Seattle area and Kelly Parker, president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Thornsley said while representatives from the Liquor Control Board attended the hearing and asked for some minor changes in the bill, the only negative testimony came from the Washington Association of Substance Abuse Prevention.

“I think we accomplished a lot, in terms of moving the legislation forward,” he said.

During Thornsley’s trip to Olympia, he met briefly with Moeller. Thornsley also attempted to visit with Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver), but they were in meetings at the time.

Rivers and Benton are on the Senate committee that will hear the bill when it makes it to that side of the chamber. Thornsley hopes the committee will hold a hearing about the bill sometime within the next month.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins wrote a letter Jan. 11 to Moeller, stating the support of the beer and wine bill is consistent with the legislative “short list” of priorities adopted by the Camas City Council on Dec. 17, 2012.

“The bill is straightforward and includes measures to avoid unintended negative results,” Higgins wrote.

The letter was considered to be Camas’ testimony before the committee.

“The historic Liberty Theatre is a ‘flagship’ business and attraction of our vital downtown business center,” Higgins wrote.