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Governor Evers Signs Comprehensive Chapter 125 Update
On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, Governor Evers signed legislation to significantly update Wisconsin’s alcohol laws including the creation of a new Division of Alcohol Enforcement within the Department of Revenue. The bill was authored by Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu. It represents the most comprehensive update of the state’s alcohol laws since Prohibition. Every tier of the industry supported the bill.
The following provisions of the bill were supported by the TLW:
Creation of Division of Alcohol Beverages at DOR
- Creates the Division of Alcohol Beverages (division) attached to the enforcement functions to the division.
Require Wedding Barns to have a liquor license
- Requires wedding barns and event venues to obtain the proper alcohol license in order to operate. All wedding barns and event venues will now be required to have a liquor license to hold events. That provision of the bill has a delayed effective date of 24 months. Wedding barns and event venues will be required to purchase all alcohol through a licensed wholesaler and no longer allow people to bring in their own
Increase SafeRide Surcharge from $50 to $75
- The bill will increase the OWI surcharge for the TLW SafeRide Program by 33%. In addition the bill will expand the use of the SafeRide Program to all license holders in Wisconsin for a 6 month period. The TLW will coordinate with non-members to use our SafeRide Program and we will solicit them to join the TLW to have permanent use of SafeRide as well as all TLW programs. This change represents a great opportunity to recruit new TLW members.
Require municipalities to provide information to every license applicant about TLW SafeRide
- The new law requires municipalities to provide information regarding a free six month participation in the TLW SafeRide Program every time a liquor/beer license is issued. This change will introduce the TLW and our SafeRide Program to every applicant for a liquor license in Wisconsin. This change will present the opportunity to increase membership in the TLW as well as our SafeRide Program
Penalty lowered for purchase of beer from a Class A
- The bill lowers the penalty from a felony to a civil forfeiture not to exceed $100 for a tavern to purchase 15 cases of beer a month from a liquor store without going through a wholesaler. A similar provision currently exists in state law for the purchase of up to 12 liters of booze a month.
Create a Statewide Operators Permit
- Under provisions of the bill the Department of Revenue will create an operator’s license which can be acquired through the DOR website and will be permitted for use statewide. Local governments can still issue an operator’s license but this change will provide much more flexibility to employers and bartenders to quickly obtain a license from the DOR which can be used statewide.
Permit Underage persons at axe throwing facilities with a liquor license
- The bill permits a retail license to be issued for an axe throwing facility and allow an underage person to be on the premises.
Brewery Closing Hours
- The bill requires all breweries to have the same closing times as Class B licensed establishments.
Permit customers to take unfished bottle of wine
- The bill allows an opened, unfinished bottle of wine to be removed from the restaurant if, among the other requirements, it is recapped with the original cap, rather than recorked.
Closing Hours for Republican National Convention
- The bill creates a closing hour exception, during a 2024 national political convention in Milwaukee, for Class “B,” “Class B,” and “Class C” licensed retailers, and for producers' full-service retail outlets and production premises, located in Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Rock, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Columbia, Sheboygan, or Fond du Lac County. Under the bill, during the convention period, the closing hours are between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. However, a municipality may designate a retailer or producer as ineligible or disqualified for the extended closing hour and may, by ordinance, opt out of the extended closing hour during the convention.
To see the bill in its entirety please visit: Wisconsin Legislature: AB304: Bill Text
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