Beer Politics National Roundup; Aug 11-17

In Beer Politics by Ryan

This week’s roundup of beer politics stories from across the country looks at the liquor license migration into Ann Arbor, Michigan, the latest on the Small BREW Act and the public signing of the “Stone Bill” in South Carolina — which isn’t really the “Stone Bill” anymore.

The long term viability of restaurants and bars surrounding Ann Arbor and the transferring of liquor licenses to businesses in Ann Arbor is creating some issues in mid-Michigan, according to MLive.

Of those 15 Class C license transfers out of Ypsilanti Township, 12 went to the city of Ann Arbor. In Pittsfield Township three of its 23 licenses have transferred to Ann Arbor, and both communities are attempting to hold onto the “precious” licenses because of the impact they have on development.

“There’s more skin in the game when it’s easy (for owners) to walk away from a business, so we have to carefully review and look at all possible information on a restaurant, especially if the license could get transferred somewhere else. You have to be more cautious,” said Ypsilanti Township Attorney Doug Winters.

And Pittsfield and Ypsilanti Townships are not alone. According to MLCC records, of the 58 transfers out of communities around Ann Arbor, 42 went to the city of Ann Arbor, which was issued 64 Class C liquor licenses. Ann Arbor has lost six to its neighbors.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen says a bar featured on the show “Bar Rescue” in March will get to keep its liquor license after a judge overturned a decision by the Council Bluffs City Council.

A March episode of the show, which is about reinventing struggling bars, showed multiple fights and the use of profanity. It also showed one employee smoking in a back office.

Matt Overmyer, who owns the bar with his wife, appealed the city’s decision to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. He claimed the show’s producers encouraged his staff to engage in staged fights and disorderly conduct for the cameras. He also said business has declined at the bar because of the show.

LaMarche agreed with Overmyer, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to justify denying the bar’s liquor license renewal.

Per the Brewers Association, the Small BREW Act is picking up more support.

The Small BREW Act seeks to reduce the small brewer rate on the first 60,000 barrels by 50 percent (from $7.00 to $3.50/barrel) and institute a new rate $16.00 per barrel on beer production above 60,000 barrels up to 2 million barrels. Breweries with an annual production of 6 million barrels or less would qualify for these tax rates. Legislation introduced last session, H.R. 1236, gained a total of 174 total sponsors. In the Senate, companion legislation S.534 realized 44 total sponsors.

An op-ed in the Tahlequah Daily Press looks at the pros and cons of opening up Sunday liquor sales in some Oklahoma counties.

Liquor stores sell their wares at room temperature, and they’re only open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Not only are they closed on Sunday, they’re shuttered on major holidays as well.

Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 25 completely forbid liquor by the drink sales in restaurants and bars. Another 18, including Cherokee County, restrict sales on Sunday. So does Muskogee County, but there are some rumblings among political candidates about petitioning for a change.

Repealing the law that prohibits liquor by the drink sales in Cherokee County would be a relatively simple process. Either the county commissioners could call for an election, or voters could circulate a petition to get it on the ballot.

A pair of alcohol delivery services have been given the green light in Washington DC, according to NBC 4.

Drizly and Klink act as middlemen, providing websites and smartphone apps that allow customers to order beer, wine or liquor. They don’t sell or deliver the alcohol themselves, leaving that to licensed retailers. That’s why they were found to be legal.

Klink was already operating in the District, and Drizly announced Thursday that it will launch in the nation’s capital “in the coming days.”

The Richmond Register reports voters in Richmond, Kentucky may soon be able to buy beer and liquor on Election Day.

Under current Richmond law, consumers may not purchase beer or liquor between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., while polling stations are open.

Last year, Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill repealing similar rules at the state level. The revised law allows local governments to keep election-day alcohol bans.  

Richmond City Attorney Garrett Fowles said the proposed change to the city code is being suggested to bring Richmond into line with the change in state law. The ordinance will be up for a final reading and vote at the Aug. 26 commission meeting.

A bill allowing beer brewing courses at community colleges in North Carolina is raising some concerns.

Lawmakers said the legislation goes further than that, by allowing sales of the product.

“This allows them to not only retail their malt beverage, but also wholesale it. Here goes the three-tier ABC system we’ve had established in this state for decades, beginning to crumble,” said Rep. Edgar Starnes.

Beyond the concerns with product produced, there were also questions about availability on campuses.

“Underage drinking is a serious problem in this state and we’re putting the sale of alcoholic beverages on the community colleges—where the majority of the people who are at these colleges are not even old enough to purchase this product,” said Rep. Starnes.

And South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley performed a public bill signing of what was formerly known as the “Stone Bill.” Even though the brewer isn’t bringing a second production facility to that state breweries currently there say it will still help them.

The bill, H. 3512, was initially dubbed the Stone Bill, because of its intention to attract California-based Stone Brewing Company to South Carolina. The business eventually decided not to come to the state. But brewing advocates still welcomed the changes in state law.

“The craft beer industry is booming in neighboring states, and there’s no reason we can’t have that same economic growth right here,” said Rep. Derham Cole, a key player in the legislation.

The new law the latest step toward loosening restrictions on breweries.


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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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