BOISE, Idaho (KLIX) – At least a couple of historic theaters in the Magic Valley could be affected by a new bill that was passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill now heads to the Senate for review and a vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mat Erpelding and passed with a 60-7 vote on the House floor, would allow theaters built before 1950 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places to sell beer and wine. Erpelding said the measure would help these historically and culturally significant theaters to remain solvent.

“Many of these historical theaters are struggling to stay afloat,” Erpelding said in a statement on Thursday. “They have to pay for things like repairs, insurance, and movie rentals. I’ve heard from theaters all over the state and they are so excited to see that we are working to fix this problem. They are excited to see that we are giving them another tool to help keep these buildings operating. I hope that I can report back to them with good news.”

Magic Valley theaters the measure would affect if passed by the Senate include the privately-owned Burley Theater and the Wilson Theater in Rupert, owned by the city.

Erpelding said the historic theaters, many of them in rural locations, continue to play a vital role in their communities and that his bill helps preserve their legacy by giving them another revenue option if their owners decide to sell alcohol.

“Theaters on the Historic Registry are important to Idahoans because they have a specific cultural significance," Erpelding said. “In some rural areas of Idaho, the theater serves as one of the meaningful parts of the town. It is not only a source of entertainment but an interactive historic monument. We have to do everything we can to preserve that.”

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