Elinor Smith

The House Business and Labor Committee heard testimony on a bill Tuesday that would shorten the training required to serve alcohol to lessen the burden for trainers and trainees.

Rep. Scot Kerns, R-Great Falls, sponsored House Bill 279. He said dropping training to two hours instead of three would give trainers plenty of time to learn required skills like how to properly ID and deny service to very inebriated customers. 

“Specifically trying to make sure that we don't serve kids and drunks,” Kerns said.

John Hayes has been a certified alcohol trainer for over a decade, and he spoke in favor of the bill. 

“At least a third of the classes is watching videos right now. So rather than watching videos and concentrating perhaps on the actual law and the things that we need to do, I think we can get it done in two hours,” Hayes said.  

There were no opponents of the bill. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, all alcohol vendors in Montana must complete training designed by the state to serve alcohol safely. Employees must be trained within 60 days of being hired and renew their training every three years. 

The committee also heard bills that would allow customers to order alcohol or alcoholic drinks at a drive-through and another bill that would provide separate training for convenience store or grocery store clerks who sell alcohol at work. 

The committee did not take immediate action on the bills. 

Elinor Smith is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.