North Carolina Lawmakers Seek a Bevy of Reforms to ABC System


North Carolina is one of about a dozen remaining states in which the government controls the retail sales of alcohol. The state’s ABC system has been mired in scandal recently after a state audit uncovered millions in waste, which has spurred calls for reforming the state’s antiquated alcohol laws. According to the Greenville Daily Reflector, several lawmakers have introduced an omnibus reform bill with numerous proposed changes:

A bill filed in the N.C. House would dramatically revamp how the state governs liquor sales and distribution, including a provision allowing for Sunday sales. Distillers, brewers, and consumers would be among the beneficiaries of the expansive measure, modernizing a system entangled in arcane laws dating back to the end of Prohibition.

Reps. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson; James Boles, R-Moore; Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe; and Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, are primary sponsors.

Lawmakers have already introduced several items presented in Tuesday's bill, such as a move - House Bill 389 - to authorize public colleges and universities to allow the sale of alcohol at stadiums, athletic facilities, and arenas on school property, as well as a move paving the way for Sunday sales - Senate Bill 87.

The omnibus measure introduced Tuesday, H.B. 536, ABC Omnibus Regulatory Reform, would, for example, allow distillers to sell spirituous liquor directly to consumers in other states and removes a limit on sales to customers visiting one of the nearly 60 craft distilleries in the state. As it stands, customers can buy five bottles from a distillery per year. All sales now are recorded and tracked.

The bill also would allow tastings in state-run ABC stores and provides a local option for cities and counties to adjust store hours, including for Sunday sales…”

Read the rest here.

Connecticut Considers A Pair of Beer Bills


After anti-brewery legislation that would have forced state brewers to choose between off-premises and on-premises sales was killed earlier this year, Connecticut lawmakers are now considering several pro-beer bills. According to the Hartford Courant, these would include bills to increase the amount of off-premise beer brewers can sell and allow larger retailers to sell beer in the state:

Advocates for craft brewers and distillers, distributors, restaurants and package stores showed up a legislative hearing Thursday to voice their concerns and support regarding several proposed bills they say will have an impact on their businesses.

Key among the proposed legislation is a bill that would increase the amount of beer craft brewers can sell for off-premises consumption from 9 liters to 23 liters per day…

Another proposed change would allow big-box stores such as Target and Walmart to sell beer…

Read more here.

Montana Legislature Decides Against Expanded Brewery Taproom Hours

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The Montana legislature was considering legislation to extend the hours in which brewery taprooms could stay open and serve the public. 3KRTV.com reports that the bill died a quick death, however:

A bill allowing Montana microbrewery taprooms to extend their hours to 10 p.m. died a quick death.

Without discussion, the House Business and Labor Committee voted 16-to-3 to kill the measure Friday morning.

The committee had a hearing on House Bill 185 earlier this week.

Montana craft brewers supported the bill, saying that allowing their tap rooms to remain open for an additional two hours would help the booming industry keep growing.

But tavern and restaurant owners strongly opposed it…

Read more here.

Connecticut Anti-Craft Beer Legislation Dead For Now

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Connecticut lawmakers have been considering legislative proposals that would force Connecticut brewers to choose between on-premise beer sales or off-premise beer sales, a restriction that would have severely handicapped beer makers in the state. According to the Hartford Courant, the legislation has been dropped (for now):

A battle is brewing between Connecticut’s growing craft beer industry and liquor wholesalers, beer distributors and retailers, who question whether the smaller brewers are following laws regarding how much beer they can sell, and at what price.

The concerns from the wholesalers, distributors and retailers led to a pair of proposed bills that craft breweries saw as an outright attack on the industry, which has grown in Connecticut from a handful to more than 80 in the last several years. One bill would require breweries to choose between on-site or off-site sales, meaning taprooms would have to be closed to sell beer in package stores, restaurants and bars…

The outcry from the brewers resulted in state Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, and state Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, dropping their proposals, but McCrory said the conflict between the craft brewers and the distributors, wholesalers and retailers needs to be addressed…

Read more here.

D.C. Implements New Set of Booze Reforms


R Street has written before about D.C.’s relatively forward thinking alcohol laws, and now the District is set to usher in a series of more reforms. According to WTOP, D.C. alcohol producers will now be able to collaborate with one another and also sell their products online:

Craft brewers, distilleries and wineries in the District can have more parties, collaborate with other brewers and sell beers other than their own in their tasting rooms under a new District law that took effect Tuesday.

D.C. residents can now order craft beers from local brewers online.

The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 now allows manufacturers of beer, wine and spirits to create and sell collaboration products with other alcohol manufacturers, both in the District and outside of the District.

For example, breweries can now collaborate and manufacture beer with another brewery, regardless of location, and sell those collaboration beers for on-premise consumption that aren’t solely the brewer’s creation. They can also now sell collaboration beers in growlers for off-premise consumption.

Alcohol manufacturers can now also sell their products online and deliver directly to homes in the District between 7 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week…

Read the rest here.

New Jersey Legislator Introduces Brewery Event Bill


After the recent dustup that occurred when New Jersey alcohol regulators tried to limit the number of annual events breweries in the Garden State could host, a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to give breweries more flexibility. NJBiz.com has the story:

Sen. Vin Gopal introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow microbreweries to hold special events both on- and off-site with prior notifications to the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Senate Bill 3155 requires notification 10 days prior to on-site events and 21 days prior to off-site, and notification of the host municipality.

The bill also allows microbreweries to use virtual tours to fulfill tour requirements and clarifies they do not need to fulfill tour requirements when selling products intended for off-premises consumption…

Read the rest here.

New Jersey Regulators Back Off Onerous Brewery Rules


We reported last week that New Jersey was planning to implement onerous new rules on craft breweries, such as limiting the number of events they could host during a calendar year. But now the state’s Division of Alcohol Beverage Control has announced that it will delay enactment of the rules (at least for now):

More than a week after levying a special ruling against microbreweries in New Jersey, the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control is putting new regulations directed to the industry on hold.

ABC Director David Rible announced Tuesday the division would not enforce the special ruling issued in September that issued new regulations to businesses holding a limited brewery license.

"We want to make sure that we get this right," Rible said. "We are committed to supporting the state's growing craft beer industry, while also balancing the concerns of other stakeholders and ensuring compliance with state law."

Rible says suspending the special ruling will once again allow the ABC, craft brewers, legislators, alcohol beverage license holders, and other people affected by the division's decision to continue discussions to see if changes need to be made to the 2012 law that paved the way for so many new microbreweries to open across the state…

Read the rest here.

New Jersey Slaps New Rules on Craft Breweries


Last week, the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control issued a “special ruling” that imposes a bevy of limits and restrictions on craft breweries in the Garden State. NJ.com details the changes:

Say goodbye to weekly trivia nights, food truck Fridays and Eagles on the TV at your local craft brewery.

A new ruling issued by the state cracks down on what brewery owners will be allowed to do and now requires them to obtain special permits from the state — a decision that the craft beer supporters in New Jersey say will severely set back the burgeoning industry. However, restaurant and bar advocates say the rules will put brewery owners more in line with others in the alcohol industry.

The “special ruling” issued Monday by the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control will affect the 88 limited breweries that are now operating in the state — many of which have opened since the state relaxed some of its laws in 2012 — as well as the 23 operations who have applications pending…

Some of the changes breweries are facing include the following:

  • Breweries can now only hold 25 “special events,” such as paint and sip nights, trivia nights, live televised sporting events and live music nights.

  • Breweries are limited to 12 special permits a year to sell products off the brewery premises such as festivals, athletic events, and other civic events.

  • Breweries are limited to 52 private parties (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) a year.

  • They must electronically notify the ABC 10 days prior to holding the event

The breweries did gain the ability to sell items such as water, soda, pre-packaged crackers, chips, nuts and other similar snacks.

Customers can still bring in their own food, but the brewery can no longer have restaurant menus available, or coordinate with other vendors, such as food trucks, to provide food…”

Read more here.

Maryland Booze Laws Task Force 2.0


As covered previously, Maryland convened a task force last year—led by outspoken state comptroller Peter Franchot—that recommended an ambitious package of reforms to the state’s outdated and anticompetitive alcohol laws. Given Franchot’s outspoken nature, the recommendations created a bit of a firestorm in Annapolis, and even led resistant state legislators to float the idea of stripping Franchot’s office of its power to oversee alcohol regulation in the state. Now, rather than adopting the recommendation’s of Franchot’s task force, Maryland has convened a new one:

A new task force is reviewing alcohol regulations in Maryland, and the members are looking at everything from production and sales to the impact of alcohol on public health.

But mainly, they'll be looking at whether it's the Office of the Comptroller that should continue regulating the industry and enforcing liquor laws.

The Task Force to Study State Alcohol Regulation, Enforcement, Safety and Public Health results from legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year. It includes legislators, designees of the state Health Department and Maryland State Police and representatives of the Licensed Beverage Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the medical community, manufacturers, wineries and craft brewers, local law enforcement and members of the public…

Read more here.

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle Interviewed About Illinois Beer Reform

IL Gov. Bruce Rauner

IL Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois recently enacted legislation allowing breweries in the state to offer products from outside alcohol producers, such as other nearby cideries or breweries. R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle was interviewed by the Heartland Institute about the law:

C. Jarrett Dieterle, a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, says the previous requirement was derived from an outmoded, government-mandated scheme of alcohol transport and sales.

“It all is derivative of the three-tiered system of alcohol distribution," Dieterle said. “There are different manifestations of the three-tiered system, but the general idea is that producers—the brewers and distillers of the world—produce the alcohol and then the distributers distribute it, and then the retailers sell it in stores, restaurants, taprooms, or pubs. The Illinois law was a vestige of that system, in a particularly stringent form, where basically the brewers had to go through a distributer to sell their own beer in their own taproom.”…

More freedom of distribution means more choices for consumers, Dieterle says.

“If you go to a brewery and all they can sell is beer, a gluten-free person can’t drink there, but if they’re allowed to sell cider from a cidery down the road, then it creates a better experience and helps the brewery and the cidery,” Dieterle said. “It’s a beneficial arrangement where the biggest winner is the consumer.”…

The whole article is available here.