Recent Changes to the Liquor Control Act Allow Alcohol to be Served in Community College and Library District Buildings Under Certain Conditions

Published October 21, 2016
Recent amendments (P.A. 99-0550) to the Illinois Liquor Control Act ("Act") affect community colleges and public library districts.  The Act was amended to permit community colleges to serve alcohol in buildings under their control for public events that are not student-related activities.  The Act was also recently amended to allow alcohol to be delivered and sold at retail in any building owned by a public library district at fundraising events or programs of a cultural or educational nature.   
 
Section 6-15 of the Liquor Control Act provides generally that alcohol may not be sold or delivered in any building belonging to or under the control of the State of Illinois or any political subdivision unless there is an exception in the Act.  The general prohibition on selling and delivering alcohol is then followed by scores of specific exceptions (for example, "alcoholic liquors may be sold at retail in buildings in recreational areas of river conservancy districts under the control of, or leased from, the river conservancy districts").  These specific exceptions have been added piecemeal over the last 80 years since the original adoption of the Act.  
 
Sale and delivery of alcohol by community colleges  
 
Before Public Act 99-0550, several community colleges had received some form of specific statutory authority to sell and deliver alcohol in public buildings, but most had not.  And even before the changes brought by Public Act 99-0550, all community colleges had some limited authority to sell and deliver alcohol in connection with conference and convention type activities of an educational, political or cultural nature.  Though the new Act now more broadly permits community colleges to sell and deliver alcohol, colleges must be mindful that they can only sell and deliver alcohol at events their boards determine are public events that are not student-related activities. 
 
Significantly, and depending on the locality and whether a catering company or other party is selling and serving alcohol, community colleges may be required to obtain a liquor license from the local municipality where the facilities are located (or from the county where the facility is in an unincorporated area) and from the State of Illinois before liquor can be sold at retail. 
 
Additionally, before public universities or colleges can sell or deliver alcohol in their buildings, the Act requires the boards of public universities and community colleges to issue a written policy concerning the types of events at which alcohol would be allowed.  .  In preparing written policies, boards are directed to consider (i) whether the event is a student activity or student-related activity; (ii) whether the physical setting of the event is conducive to control of liquor sales and distribution; (iii) the ability of the event operator to ensure that the sale or serving of alcoholic liquors and the demeanor of the participants are in accordance with State law and community college district policies; (iv) the anticipated attendees at the event and the relative proportion of individuals under the age of 21 to individuals age 21 or older; (v) the ability of the venue operator to prevent the sale or distribution of alcoholic liquors to individuals under the age of 21; (vi) whether the event prohibits participants from removing alcoholic beverages from the venue; and (vii) whether the event prohibits participants from providing their own alcoholic liquors to the venue.  Of course, these considerations are in addition to any other factors that boards may consider relevant and important.    
 
Those colleges that were already permitted to sell and deliver alcohol by the Act are exempted from the requirements of Public Act 99-0050.  That being said, colleges should certainly consider the prudence of issuing a new or revised alcohol policy based on the factors in the Act.  
 
Sale and delivery of alcohol by public library districts
 
For library districts, alcohol may be served in their buildings provided that the delivery and sale is approved by the board of trustees and is limited to library fundraising events or programs of a cultural or educational nature. 
 
Before the board of trustees may approve the delivery and sale of alcohol, the board must have a written policy that has been approved by the board governing when and under what circumstances alcohol may be delivered to and sold.  The written policy must (i) provide that no alcohol may be sold, distributed, or consumed in any area of the library accessible to the general public during the event or program, (ii) prohibit the removal of alcohol from the venue during the event, and (iii) require that steps be taken to prevent the sale or distribution of alcohol to persons under the age of 21. 
 
Further, any library district that has alcoholic delivered to or sold at retail on its property shall provide dram shop liability insurance in maximum insurance coverage limits so as to save harmless the library districts from all financial loss, damage, or harm.
 
Should you have any questions about these amendments to the Illinois Liquor Control Act, please do not hesitate to contact a Robbins Schwartz attorney.