Regular readers of this blog recognize that I often ask them to support the Washington Brewers Guild*. Here’s an example of why.
The Washington State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would benefit our state’s breweries. The bill (HB 2517) would create more certainty for breweries and other alcohol manufacturers with regards to certain violations. It passed the House yesterday by a vote of 98-0. It is now in the hands of the Senate, where it will need another hearing and vote. Hopefully it will soon become law. Cheers to the Washington Brewers Guild for getting this done.
“This bill is an effort spearheaded by our guild because of an experience a member brewery had with the LCB,” says Annie McGrath, the Executive Director of the Washington Brewers Guild. “We partnered with the state wineries and distilleries on this legislation, as they are equally impacted by the current licensing structure.”
Here’s how I understand it. Right now, if a brewery commits some kind of violation of a regulation while performing an ancillary activity (selling beer in its taproom or serving samples at a farmer’s market, for example) the Liquor and Cannabis Board can yank the brewery’s production license. Same for wineries and distilleries. It’s rather draconian, don’t you think? Especially since alcohol retailers generally don’t face the same kind of death penalty option when they commit violations on the serving end.
One minor violation on the serving end could put you out of business on the production end. Could is the operative word. This bill creates certainty and creates an atmosphere where the punishment fits the crime.
Nobody wants to create an unsafe atmosphere for consumption, but a small manufacturing business should not face extinction for a minor violation, especially when the violation doesn’t even involve the manufacturing of its product.
Representative Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, who sponsored the bill, agrees. “We absolutely need rules in place to protect the public. But those rules shouldn’t cripple the entire business of our Pacific Northwest craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries for small infractions. This proposal is a common-sense solution that maintains the integrity of our state’s public safety rules involving alcohol while ensuring Washington’s small businesses can operate without fear of overly excessive regulatory sanctions.”
“Businesses need to be held accountable when they commit infractions, and they will continue to be held accountable under this proposed bill. At the same time, Washington state is a great place to do business and we are proud of our craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Changes like these to our laws will help us stay competitive and attract new businesses to Washington state.”
You can read the bill below.
* The Washington Brewers Guild is a non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the common interests of Washington craft brewers through legislative advocacy and brewer community building.
The WBG works to unite WA craft brewers and provide a strong and effective voice for the industry to the Legislature and other critical policy making entities. The WBG provides support to its member breweries by helping brewers navigate state beer laws, providing education forums on issues of interest and importance to WA brewers and connecting brewers with fellow brewers and beer industry suppliers.
The WBG produces two festivals annually: Cask Beer Festival in March and Winter Beer Festival in December. Both are can’t-miss events for WA beer lovers. Festival goers can feel good knowing that all proceeds from these events go directly to support the WA brewing community.