2014 Illinois Legislative Roundup

Lawmakers, on Thursday, adjourned for spring break and won’t return to the statehouse until April 29th. Here’s a look at where bills pertaining to the beverage industry stand heading into to the final month of the spring legislative session.

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Note: We’ll update this post as the bills listed below advance or others are introduced or amended. Updates will be in bold.

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Michigan Growler Legislation Passes Senate ***UPDATED***

micapitol

***UPDATE***

The legislation passed the Michigan Senate today, on a vote of 158-37, and moves to the Michigan House.

***END UPDATE***

A proposal to once again allow bars and restaurants in the state of Michigan to fill growlers (64 ounce clean, refillable containers) is finally on the move.

A substitute bill was filed on SB 0027 and cleared the Committee on Regulatory Reform last week. The legislation now goes before the full Senate.

Added to the original language were provisions requiring the growler to be filled from a container that holds five gallons of beer or more, the beer purchased to have a registration number and be approved for sale by the Liquor Control Commission and stipulates the growler can’t be filled prior to a sale occurring.

The legislation doesn’t, however, require bars and restaurants to clean their tap lines. According to MLive, that was of particular concern to Bell’s Brewery Owner Larry Bell.

“It’s about quality,” he told MLive. “We see it happening already. I’ll go out and have a beer and it’ll taste like butter, and I know it didn’t leave the brewery like that. I know that’s an infection in the line. We see all sorts of things.”

Despite his concern Bell supports the legislation.

We would like to think bars and restaurants that carry quality craft beer in Michigan would make it a point to clean their tap lines on a regular basis, even though they don’t have to. That being said, I am sure we have all had a similar experience as Bell in Michigan or elsewhere.

According to analysis filed by the Senate Fiscal Agency the following establishments could legally fill and sell growlers under the proposed legislation, “a person that holds a specially designated merchant license and a Class C, Tavern, Class A Hotel, Class B Hotel, Club, Class G-1, or Class G-2 license.”

The substitute language would also have these new rules take effect immediately once the bill is signed into law.

The Illinois Legislature Is Taking Aim At Anhueser-Busch, WEDCO & City Beverage – UPDATED

citybeveragegi***UPDATE***

A companion bill has been filed in the Illinois House, mirroring the legislation introduced a week-and-a-half ago in the Illinois Senate.

State Representative Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), who sponsored the “Craft Brewer Act” in 2011, is the lead sponsor of HB 2606. Mautino is joined by nearly 40 co-sponsors – and counting

Neither bill has been assigned to a committee.

***END UPDATE***

A group of lawmakers in the Illinois Senate are responding to the Halloween day ruling by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission allowing Anheuser-Busch, through a wholly owned subsidiary, to retain an interest in an Illinois distributor.

The surprise ruling, ending a years-long dispute over whether a brewer can own an interest in a distributor in Illinois, caused an uproar amongst distributor groups in Illinois who felt the Commission ignored the legislative intent of a bill that become law in 2011.

You can catch up on our past coverage HERE. Continue reading

Indiana May Be Next State To Recognize Craft Distillers – UPDATED

indianacapitol***UPDATE***

Lawmakers in the Indiana House of Representatives voted 91-8-1 in favor of the legislation. The bill now moves to the Indiana Senate.

***END UPDATE***

We know lawmakers in Indiana have bent over backwards to help craft brewers in the state. Now they’re looking to help out – and recognize – craft distillers.

House Bill 1293, which was introduced last month, would create an “Artisan Distiller’s Permit” in Indiana.

Under the proposal, a distiller could produce up to 10,000 gallons of liquor a year, not counting booze that is sold through a distributor. They could also provide samples to customers, pour full drinks in-house and sell their liquor by the bottle or case to-go. However, if they want to serve at the distillery they’ll have to offer the minimum food requirements to legally do so.

Right in line with the spike in local craft breweries, we’re seeing more and more local distillers emerge. A number of small batch, craft distillers have popped up in Illinois after the state created a similar permit. And one particular Michigan brewery has seemingly cornered the market on craft beer inspired spirits in that state.

Holland, Michigan based New Holland has created spirits which include a whiskey steeped with Centennial hops, a whiskey produced by distilling the brewery’s pumpkin ale and a bourbon aged in beer barrels – a reversal of the popular bourbon barrel aging of beer.

Here’s the full synopsis of the legislation, provided by the Indiana legislature:

Synopsis: Artisan distiller’s permit. Creates an artisan distiller’s permit for a person who desires to commercially manufacture not more than 10,000 gallons of liquor in a calendar year (excluding the amount of any liquor sold through a liquor wholesaler). Allows an artisan distiller
to do the following: (1) Manufacture, blend, bottle, store, transport, and sell liquor to a wholesaler. (2) Serve complimentary samples and sell liquor to consumers by the drink, bottle, or case at the artisan’s distillery. (3) Hold an interest in a farm winery permit or microbrewery
permit. Provides that the holder of an artisan distiller permit may be: (1) an individual; (2) a firm; (3) a corporation; (4) a partnership; (5) a limited partnership; (6) a limited liability company; (7) an incorporated or unincorporated association; or (8) other legal entity. Provides that an applicant must do the following to be eligible for an artisan distiller’s permit: (1) Hold a farm winery permit, brewer’s permit, or distiller’s
permit for the three year period preceding the date of the application. (2) Not have more than one violation of the same alcoholic beverage law during the three year period immediately preceding the date of the application. (3) Not have a violation of any alcoholic beverage law
during the year preceding the date of the application. Provides that the holder of an artisan distiller’s permit that provides samples or sells liquor by the glass must furnish the minimum food requirements prescribed by the commission. Allows the alcohol and tobacco commission to collect an annual $250 permit fee for a biennial artisan distiller’s permit. Provides that a percentage of the artisan distiller’s permit fee is deposited in the enforcement and administration fund and
the state general fund. Makes conforming amendments.

If this bill becomes law it would take effect on July 1st of this year and would carry an annual permit fee of $250.

The bill has passed a House committee and awaits a vote before the full Indiana House of Representatives.

Growler Legislation Introduced Again In Michigan

A proposal to allow growler fills at bars and restaurants in Michigan is back on the front burner.

At the start of the new year the Michigan legislature was wiped clean; new and returning members automatically took office and the cache was cleared on all the bills that were introduced over the last two years that didn’t become law.

The same state senator who introduced the growler fill legislation last year, Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), is again behind this latest proposal – which appears to be a copy and paste of the previous legislation.

We first told you about Senator Hildenbrand’s proposal last October.

Here’s the exact language of the bill:

(10) AN ELIGIBLE MERCHANT MAY REFILL GROWLERS WITH BEER FOR CONSUMPTION OFF THE PREMISES UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(A) THE PREMISES WHERE THE REFILLING OF GROWLERS TAKES PLACE COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS UNDER THE FOOD LAW OF 2000, 2000 PA 92, MCL 289.1101 TO 289.8111.
(B) THE GROWLER IS CLEARLY LABELED AND SEALED IN A MANNER THAT COMPLIES WITH EXISTING REQUIREMENTS FOR LABELING AND SALE FOR CONSUMPTION OFF THE PREMISES.
(C) THE ELIGIBLE MERCHANT COMPLIES WITH ALL APPLICABLE RULES PROMULGATED BY THE COMMISSION.
(11) AS USED IN THIS SECTION:
(A) “ELIGIBLE MERCHANT” MEANS A PERSON THAT HOLDS A SPECIALLY DESIGNATED MERCHANT LICENSE AND A CLASS C LICENSE.
(B) “GROWLER” MEANS ANY CLEAN, REFILLABLE, RESEALABLE 10 CONTAINER WITH A LIQUID CAPACITY THAT DOES NOT EXCEED 1 GALLON.

The legislation, Senate Bill 27, has been assigned to the Committee on Regulatory Reform, which was the final resting place for the bill Senator Hildenbrand introduced last year.

Production Cap Increase For Craft Distillers Approved By IL House & Senate – UPDATED X2

UPDATES

1/8 – The bill passed the Illinois House 87-25 and now goes to the governor.

1/7 – The bill passed the Illinois House Executive Committee on a vote of 11-0 today and now awaits a vote in the full House.

END UPDATES

The Illinois Senate, on a near unanimous vote Thursday, passed a bill allowing craft distillers to produce and store more spirits in 2013 and beyond. The measure also appears to pave the way for an under the radar craft distillery and restaurant to open in Chicago’s West Loop.

The bill, HB 3450, sailed out of the Senate Executive Committee late Thursday afternoon and was approved by the full Senate before they adjourned Thursday night.

The proposal doubles the production and storage cap for craft distillers in the state, from 15,000 gallons to 30,000 gallons this year. The cap increases to 35,000 gallons in 2014.

The bill also allows for the sale of up to 2,500 gallons of distilled spirits for on or off premise consumption, i.e. you can drink on-site. A source tells us that is likely one of the last hurdles a planned “boutique” craft distillery and restaurant in the West Loop needs to clear before opening.

The distillery received zoning reclassification approval from the Chicago City Council last month to open, according to city documents, a “Distillery and Restaurant to make high-end spirits in small batches.”

It will be located at 564 W Randolph St.

The company behind the venture is 773 LLC, which according to a search of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Corporation/LLC database, operates under the assumed names of CH VODKA, CH SPIRITS and CH DISTILLERY.

chdistilleryFurther digging reveals trademark applications filed by 773 LLC for CH DISTILLERY and CH in October 2012. The logo pictured was submitted with the CH DISTILLERY application.

No further details about the super-secret distillery and restaurant are available.

The bill still needs to be approved by the Illinois House. Lawmakers are due back Sunday for a three-day “lame duck” session.

Beer Politics: Two Beverage Industry Related Bills On The Move In IL House

The Illinois legislature is due back in Springfield tomorrow for the second week of the fall veto session, with a pair of beverage industry related pieces of legislation inching closer to a vote.

The first is a controversial proposal pushed by State Representative Esther Golar (D-Chicago). The bill (SB 1531) would give the Local Liquor Control Commission in Chicago the blanket authority to shut down any establishment that it deemed to pose, “an excessive risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the community.”

Clearly this new law would come in handy when the patrons of an unruly establishment are causing damage to neighboring homes and putting residents at risk. Industry insiders, however, tell us they’re nervous that power would be abused.

The second piece of legislation (SB 3456) would create a streamlined special use permit for use at events like farmers markets.

That bill passed the Senate in March but got held up in the House. On Friday House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), number two in the House to Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), took over chief sponsorship. That likely signals that either (a) the House is serious about passing the legislation or (b) the bill is being amended to address something totally unrelated.

The fall veto session is traditionally the last chance for leftover legislation and bills the governor has vetoed to be addressed before the end of the calendar year. However, the clock doesn’t officially reset on this General Assembly until January 9th, 2013, when new members are sworn in.

Lawmakers will be in Springfield in the days leading up to that date to take up issues both big and small. And with 36 of the 177 members of the legislature not returning on the 9th there is likely plenty of room for negotiation.

Legislation To Help MI Beer & Liquor Retailers Clears First Hurdle

A bill that would require the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to issue a conditional liquor license to retailers who are waiting for their full application to be approved recently passed the Michigan House and awaits action in the Senate.

The Michigan legislature is back today after an extended break.

The bill, while admittedly devoid of bells and whistles, would be big for retailers who are either trying to transfer a liquor license or applying for an initial license.

The current Liquor Control Code requires the LCC to make a determination on a license application no more than 90 days after the completed application is submitted. But some retailers have complained about waiting months, if not years, to have their license approved.

This legislation would allow retailers to apply for a conditional license to operate, legally, while they wait for final approval.

HERE is the full text of the legislation and below is the meat and potatoes from the analysis provided by House staff.

“The bill would amend Section 525 of the Liquor Control Code to require the LCC to provide for a conditional license to an applicant for use during the application review process.

Specifically, the LCC would be required to issue a conditional license to an applicant seeking to (1) transfer an existing license to sell alcoholic liquor for consumption on or off the premises at the same location; or (2) obtain an initial license, except for a specially designated distributor license or for the sale of alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises, as long as the applicant has submitted a completed application and acceptable proof of financial responsibility. The license would have to be issued within 14 days of the request.

The conditional license would expire when the LCC issues a final order either approving or denying the application or 1-year after the date it was issued, whichever happens first.

If a conditionally approved licensee fails to maintain acceptable proof of its financial responsibility, the LCC would be required to suspend the license until acceptable proof is filed, provided that due notice was given and a proper hearing took place.”

There was no opposition during committee debate, although the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association were neutral on the bill.

The bill passed the House on September 27th on a vote of 105-2.

Growler Fill Bill Introduced In MI Senate

Not a MI growler, but you get it…

Being big fans of beer produced in the Mitten state, we like to check in on legislative happenings there on occasion and happened across a bill that caught our eye; Senate Bill 1290.

The legislation would allow for growler fills at more establishments in Michigan, something we – and I would suspect the vast majority of us craft beer fans – can get behind.

Specifically the bill would allow brewpubs and restaurants who have a Class C liquor license and an SDM “take out” license to fill and refill growlers to go, according to Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), who’s sponsoring the legislation.

Interestingly this was already happening, legally, at some restaurants until the Michigan Liquor Control Commission reviewed their rules and put a stop to it.

As someone who somewhat frequently travels to central Michigan I have had my fair share of growlers filled at Dusty’s Tap Room in Okemos. There is something particularly awesome about getting a growler filled at a bar, what with all the options and rotating styles and breweries.

Not quite believing what we were reading I made a quick phone call to Dusty’s last week and they confirmed that they are no longer allowed to fill growlers.

Phooey.

Here’s the full text of the bill:

AN ELIGIBLE MERCHANT MAY REFILL GROWLERS WITH BEER FOR CONSUMPTION OFF THE PREMISES UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(A) THE PREMISES WHERE THE REFILLING OF GROWLERS TAKES PLACE COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS UNDER THE FOOD LAW OF 2000, 2000 PA 92, MCL 289.1101 TO 289.8111.
(B) THE GROWLER IS CLEARLY LABELED AND SEALED IN A MANNER THAT COMPLIES WITH EXISTING REQUIREMENTS FOR LABELING AND SALE FOR CONSUMPTION OFF THE PREMISES.
(C) THE ELIGIBLE MERCHANT COMPLIES WITH ALL APPLICABLE RULES PROMULGATED BY THE COMMISSION.
AS USED IN THIS SECTION:
(A) “ELIGIBLE MERCHANT” MEANS A PERSON THAT HOLDS A SPECIALLY DESIGNATED MERCHANT LICENSE AND A CLASS C LICENSE.
(B) “GROWLER” MEANS ANY CLEAN, REFILLABLE, RESEALABLE CONTAINER WITH A LIQUID CAPACITY THAT DOES NOT EXCEED 1 GALLON.

The bill is currently parked in the Committee For Regulatory Reform.

Don’t expect any immediate action on this bill. The Michigan legislature won’t be back in Lansing until October 17th.

Will Indiana’s Beer Laws Keep Up With Three Floyds Growth?

There was an interesting article last week in The Times of Northwest Indiana profiling superstar brewery Three Floyds, its elusive beers and the breweries projected growth in the next two years.

The article included an interesting tidbit about Three Floyds expected production this year and next (emphasis added):

“Three Floyds brewed roughly 20,000 barrels last year (one barrel is 31 U.S. gallons). This year its shooting for about 25,000. Eventually it will go beyond 30,000. That’s where the Indiana legislation enters the story. Not only is the Three Floyds name stamped on beer bottles, but also on two amendments.

The Three Floyds amendments benefit craft beer in Indiana.

“When there weren’t any breweries in Indiana the legislators just made a law that if you are going to be a small brewery the definition of a small brewery is up to 20,000 barrels of production,” Struve said.

Among other things the law meant a brewery topping that production would limit pubs and increase taxes.

“We would be given two options,” Struve said. “One would be to continue to grow and close our pub. The other would be to stay at 20,000 barrels and keep our pub. So as a stopgap measure they (the Legislation) increased that to 30,000. And we’re going to go beyond 30,000 barrels as well.”

Meaning there is still work to be done, legislatively.”

That leaves us to wonder aloud; will the Indiana legislature be able to keep pace with Three Floyds growth? Continue reading