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Legislative Issues

2014 Legislative Session Overview

We're pleased to report that even in this brief 60-day Legislative Session, there were some WWI supported bills that reached the Governor. Here is a look at some of the Session highlights:

Delivered to Governor:

    SHB 1742- Growlers of wine
    House: 97, 0, 1 excused
    Senate: 43, 6
    Allows domestic wineries with separate tasting rooms to sell wines of their own production in sanitary containers (growlers) filled at the tap by the seller.

    ESHB 2680-Caterer's License
    House: 95, 2, 1 excused
    Senate: 44, 1, 1 excused
    Establishes new caterer's license that allows the holder of the license to take orders for, serve and sell spirits, wine and/or beer in any part of the licensed premise, if the event location does not already have a permit to sell liquor. There is an annual license fee of $200 for wine, $200 for beer or $1,000 for wine, beer and spirits.

    ESSB 5045-Wine or Beer in Day Spas
    Senate: 40, 8, 1 excused
    House: 86, 12
    Creates a permit that would allow a day spa to serve one glass of wine or one beer, free of charge. Defines day spa as a business that offers at least three of four types of services: hair care, nail care, skin care and body care. The fee for the permit is $125 per year.

    SB 5310- Senior Center License
    Senate: 40, 8
    House: 84, 12, 2 excused
    Creates a liquor license for nonprofit senior centers to sell spirits, beer and wine at retail for on-premise consumption. The fee for the license is $250.

As is typical in a short Session, some perfectly good...some uncontroversial...and some controversial legislation didn't make it through the process. Here are a few bills that died before the Legislature adjourned, but are likely to be reintroduced next year:

Dead:

    SSB 6131- Special Occasion Licenses
    We were disappointed to see this bill die, as it would have made some updates to the challenging charity event laws. We saw it as a first step to a much needed overhaul of the charity events law, and look forward to the LCB's continued attention to this issue over the interim in hopes of having a more comprehensive proposal next Session.

    SB 6386-Alcohol Tasting by Students
    This follow-up bill to last year's "technical and community colleges" bill would have extended eligibility to state and regional universities. We were surprised when it failed to survive the bill cut-off, despite broad support for the proposal.

    HB 1711-Multiple Licenses
    Would have allowed no limit to the number, combination or type of liquor licenses that can be approved for the same premise. Expanded LCB enforcement authority, providing that if multiple licensees exist at the same premise and the LCB cannot connect a violation with a single licensee, the LCB may hold all licensees liable. (WWI opposed the expansion of LCB authority.)

2013 Legislative Session Overview

The 2013 Session of the Washington State Legislature (originally scheduled for 105 days) kicked off on January 14th. During the first week, Jay Inslee was sworn in as Governor and the State Legislature took new form. While Democrats held a 26-23 Senate majority going into the Session, two Democrats joined forces with all 23 Republican Senators to form a new “Majority Coalition Caucus” that assumed control of the Senate. Democrats retained control in the House with 55-43 seats.

All wine issues were heard before the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Hurst, a Democrat from Enumclaw and the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Janae Holmquist Newbry from Moses Lake served as Chair.

After six long months of debate through one Regular Session and two Special Sessions, Washington State lawmakers finally adjourned Sine Die at 6pm on June 29th and the 2013 Legislative Session officially came to a close. 

Just in time to avert a shutdown of state government on July 1st, the Legislature voted to approve a $33.6 billion two-year operating budget that reflected real bipartisanship and satisfaction amongst both chambers. Democrats were able to increase revenue by addressing court decisions on estate taxes and a revision of the telecommunications tax policy, while the Senate majority held off attempts to repeal certain B&O tax exemptions and extend temporary taxes on services and beer, among others. The end result includes a $1 billion down payment towards education spending, commits the state to an expansion of the Medicaid program and refrains from tuition increases at the state's colleges and universities. The only thing left on the table was a highly controversial $10 billion transportation revenue package that included a 10.5 cents gas tax increase and funding for transportation projects across the state. While the bill passed the House, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus refused to entertain it this year.

As promised, Governor Inslee held a bill signing ceremony Sunday, June 30th to ensure the budget was in place and the government would be open for business by the new fiscal year beginning Monday, July 1st.

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 5607 – Creating a beer, wine and spirits theater license, allowing certain small theaters to serve alcohol

    Senate Bill 5517 – Removing the 50% requirement for grocery sales for a wine and beer tasting endorsement

    House Bill 1001 – Creating a wine and beer theater license for theaters with up to four screens.

Here are the priority bills that FAILED the 2013 Legislative Session:

    Senate Bill 5045 – Allowing day spas to provide one glass of wine to customers without charge

    House Bill 1742 – Allowing retail establishments that hold a permit to sell beer growlers to also sell wine growlers

    House Bill 1805 – Allowing culinary classes to serve and sell wine

    Senate Bill 5310 – Creating a new liquor license for senior centers to be able to serve wine, beer and sprits at their facility

    House Bill 1459 – Authorizing students under the age of 21 to "taste" wine in Community College (2 year) viticulture and enology programs

As always, our WWI lobby team of Jean Leonard and Anne McGrath are busy in Olympia, representing your interests and protecting your business. As Legislators and other affected stakeholders grapple with I-1183's aftermath, we are actively engaged with all issues that could impact your winery.

info@washingtonwineinstitute.org
325 Washington St. NE #302
Olympia, WA 98501-2200
360-352-1557