Words & Deeds

Idaho lawmakers need to reconsider beer, wine at Flicks

Lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves.

By killing a bill Wednesday that would allow The Flicks and other movie houses to serve wine and beer in their theaters, the Idaho House of Representatives took another step backward in maintaining Idaho's free spirit.

The bill would have let local governments make the decision about beer, wine and movies.

Totally unreasonable.

The 30-38 vote mostly boiled down to one thing, said House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, who sponsored the bill: morality.

The bill would have opened the door for other theaters to allow adult beverages. Certain Idaho lawmakers apparently are mortified by the concept of a child seated next to an adult sipping chardonnay.

"Well, you know what happens in a restaurant, right?" Jaquet said.

Absolutely. I hate when everybody gets wasted at Red Robin.

Yet restaurant designation may help save The Flicks, which serves food. The issue isn't whether The Flicks can sell beer and wine, which it has done for more than two decades; it's whether patrons can carry it into theaters.

"The whole place is a restaurant," owner Carole Skinner said, "and the whole place should get to serve beer and wine. That's the position I've always had."

Unless lawmakers tackle this issue specifically — Jaquet has another bill up her sleeve that would grandfather in The Flicks and three Sun Valley-Ketchum theaters — the beer and wine debacle eventually will have to be sorted out by Idaho State Police.

Lt. Bob Clements, bureau chief of the Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau, said he would hope to work out a compromise. His concern has to do with underage drinking and keeping minors separate from alcohol.

Clements' hands are tied by laws. He also pointed out a state statute that prohibits businesses that serve alcohol from showing any film that contains sexually-related material — stuff you might see in R-rated movies.

With more pressing alcohol concerns in Idaho — and only one other ABC staffer to handle the entire state — Clements has to be serious but maintain a sense of humor about this surprisingly complex issue.

"I tell you," he joked, "it'll drive you to drink in this job."

When I moved to Idaho, I fell in love with its freedoms: No helmet law. Nerf football in the park with a sixer of tall boys. No firecrackers. (OK, the Fourth of July sucked, but, hey, I understood.)

Since then, lawmakers have consistently told Idaho adults that we are incapable of making responsible decisions. They steal our daily pleasures one by one.

I'm not sure lawmakers understand how many Boiseans are upset about this bill being killed. Even Flicks fans who work in the governor's office were apparently "flipping over it," Jaquet said.

Added Skinner: "I'm willing to bet that everybody who voted against (the bill) has never been to The Flicks."

One of my co-workers suggested that these lawmaking stiffs are afraid of what goes on in the dark, be it bikini bars or theaters. But the last time I checked, it was bright as all hell when I floated the Boise River ... beer-free. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

If lawmakers are going to wring their hands about the beer issue at The Flicks, they'd better be consistent and ban it at Alive After Five, the Western Idaho Fair and the Snake River Stampede.

Actually, I should probably just keep my mouth shut, huh?

Skinner said she's optimistic that the proposed grandfather bill will pass.

Jaquet also holds out hope.

"There are several people who voted against the bill (Wednesday) who said they would support a grandfather," she said.

Then again, "There's always a group of people that vote against any kind of alcohol-, liquor-related issues," Jaquet told me.

Nobody needs a beer more than they do.

Michael Deeds co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM "The River." This week: South By Southwest