Lawmakers move to ban sale or rental of liquor licenses

Legislators again passed an update of the law regulating the sale of alcohol Tuesday. The bill was one of three given an initial approval during the Asamblea Legislativa’s afternoon session.

Lawmakers also passed measures addressing online crimes and drugs and money laundering.

The big change in the alcohol measure is that those who have alcohol licenses are prohibited from selling, renting or otherwise putting them in the hands of another party. Such activity is usual here, and many popular nightspots run on a rented liquor license. Lawmakers called this a black market.

The bill received passage earlier, but the Sala IV constitutional court on review found a number of flaws that have been addressed.

The measure also increases what license holders pay to the municipality. Some licensees have been paying as little as 75 colons every three months.

The bill retains the E license that allows alcohol sales 24 hours a day in establishments that receive approval from the Instituto
Costarricense de Turismo, such as hotels, restaurants and casinos. In all there are five major categories of licenses.

The Internet bill outlines online crimes that are not addressed by other laws and provides a prison term of from three to eight
years for corrupting minors with pornography and from four to 10 years for using the Internet to arrange sexual encounters with minors.

Another section provides three to six years in prison for intercepting or using online communications, photos or data. These acts are characterized as damage to intimacy or privacy.

The money laundering and drug measure provides for the speedy distribution of money and goods that are confiscated during police actions. Now there is a long wait while the criminal case is adjudicated. The new rules provide for the sale with the provision that if the individual is acquitted of the crime, the goods will either be restored or compensation will be made.

All of the proposed laws require a second vote, although there does not seem to be any strong opposition. Each probably will be challenged in the Sala IV, too. And the Internet bill may prove to be unenforceable because of the universal nature of online activities.

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