Amend CB-18-2011 Dancehall law so that license is attainable to businesses following set standards or provide denial in writing within 60 days of application with remedy suggestions to obtain license.
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The Prince Georges County Council (Maryland) unanimously passed a bill introduced by Councilwoman Karen Toles called CB-18-2011 in 2011. This bill was designed to hold club owners responsible for maintaining proper licensure addressing safety and legal business standards. We all want businesses to follow a uniform standard and provide their patrons with the highest in safety standards.
The Council passed this bill as "emergency legislation" with the guise of "curbing violence" seemingly associated with Go-Go music, a percussive driven music with crowd participation via "call and response", that originated in the Washington, DC area, by Chuck Brown in the mid-70s.
Go-Go is a style of music and cannot be blamed for senseless murders.
While we do think that nightclubs must follow uniform, professional standards, it is unfortunate that this bill was passed into law without the proper tools necessary to obtain this license in place. No applications were made available nor was the agency responsible for the licensing of this bill, The Prince Georges County Department of Environmental Resources, prepared, as they did not have ample understanding of what was required as was stated in testimony by a PG County DER employee at the hearing of club Plaza 23. Club owners who feature DJs, live music, cabarets and hand dancing are still unable to obtain this license in 2014.
By not issuing this license in a timely manner to those nightclubs who have met the criteria or outlining remedies in the case of denial, it is causing businesses to close down giving the illusion that when it comes to "certain" businesses, Prince Georges County is closed for business. It also denies those Prince Georges County residents involved in this industry the ability to work where they live while still contributing taxes as homeowners, patrons and tax payers.
This law is not being enforced uniformly and some businesses are able to thrive, while others suffer and eventually close because in some cases it has taken up to a year for the decision to deny club owners the CB-18-2011 license. Still, landlords expect their rent for the property and employees are "hanging on" waiting to see if they will work or not. Business owners still have families to support, as do band members, promoters, print shop owners who print the flyers, promoters, security outfits and many others who are employed in the Go-Go music industry. Since the law was passed in 2011, more clubs have been forced to shut their doors rather than actually obtain this license.
We, the undersigned, are hereby requesting that the Council or County Executive Rushern L. Baker, who is an attorney, revisit and amend this law so that the license is attainable, and place a 60 day window on the part of the DER to issue this license or provide a denial in writing within said 60 days with suggestions on how to remedy the cause of denial so that licensure can be obtained.
Go-Go music is a part of the culture of the Washington, DC metropolitan area and with businesses willing to follow "good business practices", the culture should be able to thrive, not die.
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