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The Beer Act Takes Off

Patty Murray has voiced her support for the BEER Act.

***This post was originally published on the Brewery Law Blog, an alcoholic beverage law blog administered by Reiser Legal LLC. The office’s Doug Reiser provides Beer Blotter with regular legal and legislative commentary.***

Last week, I discussed the federal BEER Act. Today, it looks a bit more promising for the tax cut legislation that would put millions back in brewery pockets.

A fairly wide-spreading marketing effort took over this past week. You can now see an out-pouring of support from Senators across all parts of the U.S. With each passing day, it appears more likely that this bi-partisan effort will pass through the Senate.

As of today, both Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray have stepped up to provide assurance that they will back the BEER Act.  In total, The Wall Street Journal counts 17 senators as co-sponsors. But, reports last week showed that there are closer to thirty that have expressed support for the bill.

If you want to learn more about the BEER Act, read our earlier post. In that post, you can find summary information, as well as links to the language, courtesy of the Brewers Association. The Act itself is incredibly brief.

We will continue to track progress of the bill, here at Brewery Law Blog.

Beer Law: Farmer’s Market to Sample Beer?

January 12, 2011 1 comment

Beer: Coming soon to a Farmer's Market by you!

**This post originally published by BrewerlyLaw.com, beer law blog published by Seattle based Reiser Legal LLC.**

Booze at farmer’s markets? Yep.

A new legislative action by Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles would bring beer and wine sampling to Seattle’s wondrous farmer’s markets. The bill is being introduced in the State Senate as SB 5029 and can be reviewed by following this link.

Apparently, this legislation is modeled after a recent law that permits the sampling of beer and wine at grocery stores. But, this first step is a simply a “test kit”, targeting 10 sample markets and limiting sampling to one brewer or winemaker per market, per day.

We will be sure to follow the legislation through the voting process. But, I think that most will agree that its a great first step to bringing our great state’s most celebrated craftsman to the market – the brewer.

The Death of I-1100: What’s Next for Washington?

The law books will have to wait for a change. I-1100 has been defeated.


***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, a blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal blogger.***

 

Well, its over. Both of the private liquor initiatives have failed to win the hearts of Washington voters. Even though there are still some votes to count, the battle is over.

 

But why did voters not embrace this initiative?

 

This year the elections were charged by an eagerness to reduce taxes and eliminate the government stranglehold on business. Nationwide, voters made it clear that they felt that big government had failed.

 

With voters looking to reduce taxation and governmental control, you would think that an initiative to eliminate Washington’s monopoly over liquor sales would prevail, right? How about an initiative that, as both sides would argue, would reduce the costs of beer and wine sold in Washington state? Hole in one, eh?  Nay.

 

Washington voters listened to the issues and voted with their brains, and not their hearts. I firmly believe that Western Washington’s love for its communities, defeated these measures. They listened to the local businesses that they support and decided that I-1100 was not for them and their families. (Note: I-1105 was defeated roundly). The massive amount of money that was dumped into this initiative appears to have been put to good use, as public education significantly assisted the “No” campaign.

 

So, what’s next?

 

One thing is for sure, it was a close call. The I-1100 vote came down to the final votes. The dividing line is not too wide.

 

Secondly, many of the organizations that supported the “No” campaign, including the Washington Brewers Guild, are not against the concepts of liquor privatization and free markets. They simply do not want it to happen overnight.

 

The one sentiment that I believe most shared was that overnight deregulation could be disturbing for businesses in the industry. Most of these groups might have been willing to get behind a measure that built in gradual deregulation. Heather McClung, owner of Schooner Exact Brewing, stated that the Guild’s members favor “slow, steady growth in modernizing those laws.” So, its possible they would get behind some, better crafted, legislation.

 

Finally, this was a voter initiative and not a legislative measure. Public citizens drew up significant changes to Washington state law (called for the repeal of 26 state laws), and I believe that it frightened some people. If a more gradual measure was to pass through the legislature, it might have more footing.

 

In the end, I suspect that there will be a congressional push to get proposed legislation circulated in the legislature. In the next few years, the State of Washington will likely have some form of private liquor sales and a more deregulated alcohol business. I would take those betting odds.

 

Like Beer Law? Check Out These Blogs

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

We drink, take notes and then we blog it. Law blogs are a bit different.

***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, a blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal blogger.***

I came across this wonderful blog by Tom Warks, today. Tom runs Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog, a blog typically discussing the public relations within the wine world.

Tom regularly focuses on legal issues facing the wine industry and so he put together a list of some of the best alcoholic beverage law blogs out there. Included was a humble yours truly, amongst a wonderful crowd of legal minds.

Check out his list of legal blogs by following this link. There are an abundance of blogs for just about every taste in the alcoholic beverages law spectrum.

One blog of particular interest to myself, and likely most of you, is the Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog. This blog is written by the Portland office of well-respected law office, Stoel Rives LLP.

The blog is written by a collective of attorney out of the firms offices in Washington, Oregon and California. Seattle attorney, Susan Johnson, offers her own perspective from time to time, including this write up on the liquor Initiatives (1100 & 1105) currently on the ballot in Washington.

Thanks to Tom for including my blog in this list of elite commentators.

Beer Law: Campaign Ads Lend Fodder to Initiative 1100 Fire

September 28, 2010 3 comments

Store owner Wallace Wright appears in an online ad for Yes to 1100

You might be sick of Initiative 1100 by now (and please tell me below, if you are), but here is more fodder for the fire. Initiative 1100 is getting more and more face time, every time I turn on the tube.

The ad campaigns used by both sides showcase many in the local alcohol industry – some who are for it; others who are not. Here is a look at what is out there, so far.

 

No!

You probably have already seen the videos put out by the “No To Initiative 1100/1105” campaign. The two that are most often shown (and perhaps the only two out there) profile Washington winemaker, Darby English, and a Washington corner store owner.

Here is Darby English talking about why he believes the Initiative will harm his business:

 

Other ads showcase the safety hazards that many are pushing as the negative impact of the Initiative. This one is from a local firefighter:

 

Another video was put out by the Teamsters, who put 700-800 people to work in the alcohol distribution business. Take a look:

 

Yes!

 

But, where are the supporters videos? Until recently, it appeared that the “Yes to 1100” campaign wouldn’t put as much money into ads. But a recent video shows that maybe they were just saving all their guns for one ad. Check out this video of many of Seattle’s most prominent restaurateurs:

 

Many will say that this video is merely a collection of bar/restaurant owners, looking for cheaper liquor. But, the Yes to 1100 campaign has been out in the community getting video testimonials from many people in the alcohol industry. You can see some of these videos below.

Wallace Wright of the Meridian Market:

 

Jackie Moffit, local bartender and author of DrinkGal.com

 

Alison Helfen of the Wine Alley:

 

What I really wanted to show are the real people out there that will be impacted by the Initiative. Most of us are merely beverage consumers who care about the bottom line. Through these people’s stories, I think you can get a better idea of the impact of this legislation. Hopefully, it will help you make your choice next month.

 

Beer Law: Drinking Home Brew With Friends? Thank WAHA.

September 24, 2010 2 comments

Gov. Gregoire signs SB 5060 amongst a group of WAHA committee members.

If you are at home this evening, tasting a wonderfully hand-crafted ale provided to you by your neighbor – you can thank the Washington Homebrewers Association (WAHA). That’s right, shake their hand.

Washington state law (RCW 66.12.010) exempts home brewed beer from the restraints of licensing, as long as its used for personal consumption. Thus, home brewing is legal. But, Washington’s prior RCW 66.28.140 heavily restrained the use and consumption of that legally home brewed beer.

Without a license to produce and sell beer, your beer was only to be personally consumed. Furthermore, you could only transport a small amount of beer (1 gallon) for purposes of any home brewing competition. The worst part – only the judge could taste your beer!

But then came WAHA with a proposition: lets change the law. And so they did, pushing reasonable legislative language with the generous backing of Senator Ken Jacobsen.

In early 2009, language was proposed to change 66.28.140, under SB 5060. The proposed bill moved quickly through the Legislature and was signed into law in May 2009. The change went into effect on July 26, 2009.

The verdict is our new RCW 66.28.140 – a reasonable and fair home brew law. The new law allows us share home brew amongst friends, allow others to taste samples at events, and allow to wheel your keg over to the neighbors for Sunday’s big game.

Here are the technical permissions:

 

you can remove home brew….

 

(a) as long as the quantity removed does not exceed twenty gallons;

 

(b) as long as its not removed for sale; and

 

(c) as long as it for private use  (which includes use at organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions)

 

So, take a moment today and thank WAHA for ridding Washington of an old and archaic law that restricted the right to share your home brew. Thanks to a wonderfully driven group of normal citizens, I am sitting here this evening enjoying a nice glass of my neighbor’s IPA.

Take a moment and check out WAHA’s webpage and please follow their Twitter account.

 

Beer Law & Legis: TTB and USDA Work Together to Review “Organic” in Labels and Advertising

Portland's Roots Brewing is one of many brewers who slap "Organic" on the label

***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, the nation’s first, and maybe the only, blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal columnist.***

The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to the use of the term “Organic” on alcoholic beverage labels. Of course, this news is of utter importance to brewers, especially those in the NW who have focused on brewing organically.

We learned about this Memorandum on Davis Wright & Tremaine’s Hospitality Law Blog by attorney Kelly Luzania. According to Luzania, the TTB will continue to review all labels and advertising for alcoholic beverages, subject to a caveat. Any labels or advertising making claims that the product is “100% organic”, “organic” or “made with organic (ingredients)” must be reviewed with regard to USDA National Organic Program regulations.
From Kelly’s article:

COLAs for wine, beer and spirit labels that contain “organic” claims will now be approved by the TTB as “approved subject to compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the National Organic Program regulations[.]” If they do not comply with USDA organic laws, the labels will be rejected and the TTB will let applicants know what changes need to be made to make the label compliant. An applicant may only appeal this rejection with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The Memorandum provides an interesting look at two of the alcoholic beverage industry’s regulatory bodies working together to reduce confusion and maintain consistency in COLA reviews.

A copy of the Memorandum is available on the TTB website and can be accessed by clicking here.

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