Senate votes to relax laws for breweries, distilleries

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The Alaska Senate today unanimously passed a bill to allow breweries and distilleries more options for how they operate.

SB 52 would extend the time tasting rooms can be open from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m.; allow venues to host up to four live music concerts per year; and set more clear rules for fundraisers, brewery tours, and functions such as art shows.

“With a primary focus on public health and safety, SB 52 provides clarity for licensees, local governments, law enforcement and the public, and will result in the common-sense, consistent and less burdensome regulation of Alaska’s alcoholic beverage industry,” said Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, the bill’s sponsor and a long-time advocate for updating laws covering alcohol.

“SB 52 is the product of an eight-year, unprecedented collaboration of over 100 stakeholders from a diverse group of public health and safety entities, legislators, alcohol industry representatives, local governments, advocates for youth and the public who collectively volunteered over 13,000 hours and testified extensively to effectively improve the effort. It will modernize and reorganize the 35-year-old hodge-podge of Alaska’s alcohol laws into a comprehensive, effective Title 4 re-write.” 

Resistance to the bill came from owners of beverage licenses, which cost sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those bar and restaurant owners have for years been concerned about the unfair competition created by establishments that don’t have to have such a license.

Senate Bill 52 passed the Senate by a vote of 19-0 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t consider there to be a competition at all. There is a nearby distillery to me and a nearby bar. I only go to the distillery and if it were to close, I still wouldn’t go to the bar…. I’d stay home. I appreciate the quiet, neighborly atmosphere and while I am happy they will be able to have a few concerts, I wouldn’t attend them. A bit later hours will be nice for people that work odd shifts and can help offset the cost of opening up for the evening. I’m happy to see it settled and don’t view it as a special benefit over those that hold bar licenses.

  2. It took eight years to get this simple common sense change passed just the senate. Let that sink in, eight years. There were two bar owners in our legislature who sank it in those years Louise Stutes of Kodiak and Adam Wool of Fairbanks, eight years.
    .
    How is our disfunctional legislature going handle real problems, or problems that they make when it takes eight years to get to this point in the reform of common sense brewery legislation?

  3. I am a city council member from Wasilla and we can’t get a beer and wine license-issuing authority from the 1950 out-of-date alcohol control board. We have the authority to put a thousand pot shops in the city limits w/o any approval, we can go dry or damp w/o any approval but a beer and wine with a meal is too much local authority for a city with a police force, an area-wide dispatch authority and the largest retail center outside Anchorage. Our local income is dependant on sales tax and many businesses from Anchorage want to open additional sites in the city IF they could receive a beer and wine license.
    If you want to know what is wrong with the state, it is the Juneau-centered thinking that puts remote appointed boards with powers that belong to the local city is in charge of licensing. Expand this type of thinking across the state is why we need to move, at the very least, the legislature to Southcentral Alaska so citizens could tell the pampered politicians what WE really think about their unforgivable conduct.

  4. It’s a whole lot more fun to see it being made while you drink it. Eliminates the middleman too, so prices SHOULD be less expensive. Drip and drink.

  5. Adam Wool would not support SB 52 because it interferes with regular drinking establishments like his…..where the objective is to get your patrons drunk and back on the road. More drinking = more profits for Adam Wool.

  6. It wouldn’t matter to me if the closing times were extended to 2 a.m. instead of 8 p.m.. But as I have witnessed (on numerous occasions) the limit on “samples” is not enforced and I have seen many people leave the “tasting” room on their lips (drunk). Make common sense changes but start enforcing the laws that are in place. And then implement serious consequences for infractions.

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