Oregon Village Hall File Photo

Oregon Village Hall is located at 117 Spring St.

Village of Oregon Board trustees voted to streamline the issuance process for alcohol beverage operator’s licenses at their Monday, Feb. 13 meeting.

Previously, policy required that the village clerk get approval from both the Village Board and the Public Safety Committee after the Oregon Police Department prepares a report on an applicant’s arrest and conviction history.

Under the newly approved ordinance, operator’s licenses will be issued without approval of the Village Board. The Public Safety Committee will continue to undergo the same review process–which includes consideration of the application, background investigation report and testimony from the applicant–but now has the final say in an application’s acceptance or rejection.

“To me, it makes sense to pick one body to make the decision,” Village Attorney Dregne said. “Let that body do the work, rather than what we have now. Which is, we have two separate groups who are involved in the process.”

The new policy also limits the amount of information the police chief may include in a potential license-holder’s background report. Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Law already limited the types of arrest and conviction records a municipality may consider, but the Village of Oregon’s change also excludes certain information that the committee deemed “unlikely to be ‘substantially related’ to the licensed activity.”

Aside from making the process faster and simpler for all involved parties, Trustee Jenna Jacobson recommended the policy to protect the dignity of an applicant in a public forum setting.

“The people who are coming before us, we’re making them explain arguably the worst day that they’ve had yet, all of that detail, at the committee level… Then having them potentially have to do that again at the full Village Board on live TV,” she said.

Other municipalities have amended policies similarly, including the City of Madison.

“It’s empowering committees and as the village grows–and there are more… things that we’re dealing with at the Village Board–I think having committees that are empowered to make decisions… makes a lot of sense and makes things more efficient,” Trustee Carlene Bechen said in support of the change. “It’s a great step in the right direction.”

Contact reporter Alisyn Amant at aamant@wisconsinmediagroup.com.

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