Here are the priority bills that PASSED the 2013 Legislative Session and were signed by the Governor:
- Senate Bill 5674 – Expanding the Farmer’s Market Wine/Beer Sampling Program
- Senate Bill 5774 – Authorizing students under the age of 21 to "taste" wine in Community College (2 year) viticulture and enology programs
- Senate Bill 5517 – Removing the 50% requirement for grocery sales for a wine and beer tasting endorsement
- Senate Bill 5607 – Creating a beer, wine and spirits theater license, allowing certain small theaters to serve alcohol
- House Bill 1001 – Creating a wine and beer theater license for theaters with up to four screens.
B&O Tax Credit for out-of-state sales
WWI worked hard to extend a fruit and vegetable manufacturing tax exemption that was set to expire July 1, 2012. Wineries currently receive this business and occupation tax exemption for out-of-state (export) sales. If the exemption had expired on July 1, many wineries would have seen an increase on the cost of exporting wine out of state. Wineries looking to expand production and enter new markets outside of Washington would have lost a valuable tool in that effort.
Capital Budget Request: $5 Million for Wine Science Center
WWI worked with our colleagues at the Port of Benton, City of Richland, and WSU on a $5 million capital budget request for the Wine Science Center. The effort was successful and this funding moves the Wine Science Center into the next phase of construction. It’s an exciting victory for the Washington Wine Industry!
Both of these victories were accomplished because of the strong support for the Washington Wine Industry’s success and contributions to the economic vitality of the state. The Washington Wine Institute is proud to work on issues that promote and support the entire wine industry!
SB 5788 "Omnibus Stakeholder Bill"
SB 5788 contains WWI language that will fix some of the issues wineries have reported experiencing when participating in charitable events. As you know, it's common practice for charities to hire an event coordinator, who provides the valuable service of coordinating winery involvement with the event. If passed, SB 5788 will allow you to pay a reasonable booth fee to the charitable organization hosting the event (a practice that is currently illegal) for their coordinating services. The bill will also help to alleviate the headaches associated with payment for your wine at the event. Instead of dealing with the now commonplace "check swap", the charity will be able to pay you for your wine sold at the close of the event.
SB 5788 would also resolve an issue with Agents Licenses that has come up in recent months. The WSLCB interprets current law to require that wineries and their employees (except those that are a sole-proprietorship) obtain an annual $25 Agents License in order to sell and market wine off of their winery premise, including to retailers! This is a requirement that we believe very few wineries are aware of, so WWI introduced language that will make it clear in the law that wineries and their employees do not need an Agents License to sell their own wine.
Also included in our SB 5788 stakeholders' bill is a language that will help our friends at WAWGG and other industry trade shows. At the WSLCB's suggestion, our bill adds a provision that will allow barrel vendors and other liquor related vendors to provide wine, beer or liquor samples at trade events for better analysis of their products. Without this fix, these vendors would be serving without a license.
HB 1227 "Corkage Fees"
HB 1227 and SB 5173 would allow wineries and restaurants to participate together in corkage waiving programs to promote local tourism. As you'll recall, this legislation came about as a result of a liquor board enforcement action that put a stop to the popular "Corkage Free Zone" in Yakima. While WWI was able to reach an agreement with the WSLCB to continue the program immediately, these two bills are still moving through the process as additional support for the activity.
HB 1172/ SB 5029 "Farmer's Markets Wine Tasting
WWI testified in support of these clone bills that would establish a pilot program for beer and wine tastings at farmer's markets, much like the pilot program for grocery store that reached permanent status last Session. WWI is happy to support legislation that promotes wineries in their communities and we strongly believe that the more consumers are able to interact with winemakers and sample wonderful Washington wines, the more consumers will purchase them!
Board member Ann Anderson, along with WWI lobbyists Jean Leonard and Anne McGrath, attend a bill signing with key legislators and stakeholders.
Photo courtesy of the Washington State Senate.
No wine taxes!
During a challenging Session with tax increases on the table, taxes on wine were not increased! As you know, in this deficit year where the Legislature has booked $800 million in new revenue, it was our top priority to stave off tax increases on wine.
WWI works tirelessly in Olympia, year round, to represent your interests and promote our industry to the Legislature. Thanks to your good work producing quality wines and creating in-state jobs, we have been able to generate a tremendous amount of goodwill for our industry with Democrats and Republicans, alike. We are thankful that the Legislature recognized the importance of this home-grown industry and resisted increasing taxes on us in this challenging economy.
Unfortunately, some of our friends in the beer industry did not fare as well. Despite strong advocacy and leadership from their representatives, the Legislature imposed a 50 cent a gallon increase on beer (microbrews exempt), which results in about a 28 cent increase on a six pack.
Grocery Store Sampling Allowed
The Wine & Beer Grocery Store Sampling Bill was signed into law by the Governor! This bill, that will allow grocery stores to obtain a permit from the WSLCB to conduct tastings in their stores, has been a long time coming, first introduced in 2007, then morphed into a pilot and now finally on its way to becoming law. It's been a lot of work with some terrific partners-- the grocers, breweries, distributors and our wonderfully supportive legislative sponsors. As we've said all along, we strongly believe that if WA consumers have the opportunity to taste your wines, they will buy them. We're also pleased to report that our amendment to allow wineries to pour and participate at the tastings was included in the final version of the bill. The bill is effective on June 10, 2010.
Wine law modernization continues
We are very pleased to report that WWI’s priority bill, HB 2040, was passed by the Legislature and signed into law! This bill was the product of much work with an interim Legislative Committee on Beer & Wine Regulation and stakeholder negotiations. The resulting new law is progressive and significant reform of WA wine law!
- Allows you to provide branded promotional materials of nominal value (like t-shirts, lighters, pens) to your favorite retailers
- Allows for investment between the tiers, so that you can invest in a restaurant or hotel--or a restaurant or hotel can invest in your winery
- Allows you to pour and participate at events holding a special occasion permit and at private clubs
- Addresses COSTCO lawsuit pricing issues, eliminating the 10% minimum mark-up and post & hold requirement
Off-site storage and distribution allowed
WWI’s other priority piece of legislation, allows you to have one off-site storage location for your wine from which you can distribute. It also continues the ban on extension of credit but allows willing wineries and retailers to use electronic fund transfers instead of cash.
95% Washington Grapes required
WWI supported this WA Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG) bill and worked with WAWGG to craft language that would further the shared goal of reinforcing the message of quality as the universal characteristic of Washington wines while providing adequate protections for wineries producing in WA. This new law requires that 95% of the grapes in a wine labeled “Washington State” be from Washington (or a WA AVA). The law applies to wine produced from grapes harvested after 2009. Port and dessert wines are exempt from the law.
Wine in Art Galleries and Wedding Boutiques:
WWI supported legislation that will allow art galleries and wedding boutiques to serve one glass of wine to their customers. Business owners testified before Legislative Committees that they would like to support local wineries while providing this new perk for their customers.
Wine Sales at the Legislative Gift Center:
WWI worked with the sponsor of and supported this bill that will allow for the sale of Washington wines at the Legislative Gift Center on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The WWC will assist the Gift Center in selecting wines for sale. If you are interested in selling your wine at the Gift Center, contact the WA Wine Commission for details on how the program will work.
Home-Made Wine & Beer:
WWI worked with the WA Brewers’ Guild on a bill that was brought forward by home brewers, which will allow up to 20 gallons of home-made wine and beer to be removed from the home for private consumption. Home-made beer and wine can be used for organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions.
No New Taxes:
Finally, WWI met with key members of the Legislature to fight any new taxes on wine. As you know, the State ass grappling to address a budget deficit of historical proportions and all new revenues were on the table. Taxes were not raised on your product in this challenging economic climate.
Direct to retailer sales
The Costco case raised this issue with the Federal courts, and after WWI weighed in asserting the necessity of retaining Washington wineries’ right to self- distribute, the Court sent the issue to the Legislature. The Legislature agreed with us and passed a law to preserve the right to act as your own distributor. (SB 6823)
Direct to consumer sales
The Granholm case requires equal treatment of in-state and out-of-state customers and our permit law enacted in 2006 accomplishes that goal. (SB 6537)
“Tied House” law changes
Wineries and winery associations can now use touring brochures to display winery locations as well as restaurants and hotels. Wineries can partner with restaurants to create private wine labels featuring both the winery and the restaurant. Wineries can now legally perform certain personal services at restaurants and wine shops, like bottle signings, participation and pouring at winemaker dinners, and other similar education or informational activities or events. Wineries may also furnish wine to chefs, but the cost of sampling may not be borne by a winery or distributor. Wineries can now provide links on your website to retailers and restaurants that carry your wines. Local winery trade associations will now be able to obtain special occasion permits to serve wine at events and keep proceeds from the event to support the association.
Shipment Via Common Carrier
Many small wineries shared their frustration regarding their inability to use a common carrier, like UPS, to get their product to market. Effective July 22, 2007, Washington wineries can now ship, via common carrier, up to 100 cases of wine per month to retailers. There is no limitation on the amount of wine provided to retailers directly by your winery. (SB 5898)
In 2008, the Legislature passed a law authorizing bonded wine warehouses to provide services which include packaging and repackaging, bottle labeling, creating gift baskets and shipping wine order direct to consumers. (SB 6770)