S.B. 137 – Alcoholic Beverage Control Retail Store Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis and Rep. Timothy Hawkes, was presented before the House Business and Labor Committee on Wednesday, February 17. The bill seeks to address the severe recruitment and retention issues the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) is facing.
The bill originated in discussions between the Business and Labor Committee and DABC commissioners during the interim where Sen. Davis and Rep. Hawkes were tasked with creating legislation to address the staffing challenges. Davis identified the astronomical turnover rate of 107% in the department and 140% in the retail stores as a wage issue. S.B. 137 gives the DABC the ability to use some of the revenue generated by alcohol sales, over 500 million a year, to more adequately compensate their employees.
The appropriations request is for $4,300,000 ongoing from the General Fund to address the wage gap between DABC employees and private sector retail workers. The disparity is so extreme, that open DABC positions go unfilled for extended periods of time due to lack of applications. A majority of these retail positions are part-time, meaning the new hires have no vested interest in state employment.
Tiffany Clason, new Director of the DABC spoke in support of the bill and reiterated the challenges the department is facing, “Our turnover is so atrocious, and quite frankly it’s unacceptable”. Sen. Davis emphasized the positive impact of more competitive pay for these DABC employees; more applications for open positions, a better customer experience by proper staffing and maintaining product expertise, and saving the state over a million by addressing the cost of turnover.
Some committee members took issue with the large fiscal note, which is written to augment in relation to market pay over the years; however the bill passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation.