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Retail Alcohol License Fact Sheet 3111 Available for Comment

March 21, 2019

DOR proposes new rules for private events

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (“DOR”) has posted a draft “fact sheet” that it plans to release titled “When Must a Person Obtain an Alcohol Beverage Retail License?”. The proposed guideline will be available for public comment for 21 days before it is formally implemented. We will provide you with more detailed information on the proposal and the timing of implementation.

The proposed guidance addresses several situations, including wedding barns and similar facilities. It attempts to clarify what is a “public place” and when alcohol beverage license is needed for events at those locations. It also addresses the circumstances under which a current tavern or restaurant owner can also operate an unlicensed facility where alcohol beverages are consumed.

The attached fact sheet is a draft and only a proposed document at this point. It is now open to public comment, similar to a proposed administrative rule. Under new laws enacted in December 2018, any state agency guidance documents must follow a procedure for adopting and publishing items like the proposed fact sheet. In short, DOR will now submit the proposed fact sheet to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Administrative Register. The next anticipated publication date is Monday, March 25. That publication provides notice of a 21 day public comment period that begins on the date of publication.

DOR must then take into account all written comments that provided to the agency. The document also must be certified as having a basis in state law and is not more restrictive than anything found in statute. A petition also can be filed objecting to the guidance document and suggesting that it is more appropriately addressed in a rulemaking. For more information on this new law, see 2017 Wis. Act. 369.


Email from DOR Secretary Peter Barca –

Good afternoon,

In the discussions we have had with many of you, we heard how regular communication from the Department of Revenue, as it relates to your business or industry, is important. In light of that, attached to this email you will find Fact Sheet 3111. Our staff created this fact sheet to provide information about when a person must hold an alcohol beverage retail license. We are seeking public comment on Fact Sheet 3111, and you will also find it on our Proposed Guidance Web Page . It was posted today and will remain open for comment for the next 21 days. We believe you will find it helpful in answering any questions or addressing any concerns you might have on this topic.

If you have any comments or ideas to share, please send them to us. We appreciate your interest in this issue and value your relationship with the department.

Peter Barca, Secretary
Wisconsin Department of Revenue



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