Wisconsin lawmakers are circulating a bill that would lower the drinking age in Wisconsin to 19. Mothers Against Drunk Driving quickly responded to the bill with strong opposition. “We don’t support anything that has any kind of acceptable loss of life, ” Doug Scoles, Regional Director for MADD told NBC15 over the phone. MADD says…Read More
Led the effort to permit the sale of cocktails to-go from taverns, restaurants and supper clubs.
Successfully lobbied the Department of Revenue to permit the return of beer to wholesalers during the pandemic.
Worked with various municipalities to reduce or waive Class B license renewal fees in 2020.
Successfully lobbied for the creation of a SafeRide surcharge and use of SafeRide funds for TV ads promoting TLW SafeRide Program.
Supported legislation to streamline the process to obtain and use an operator’s license.
Defeated repeated efforts by small manufacturers to eliminate three-tier restrictions.
Led the legislative effort to provide exemptions for small operators from increased food handling regulations.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin responded to the concerns members had in obtaining operator licenses for employees who were licensed in another municipality by lobbying for a change in state law. Under the new law( 125.17(2) ) a municipality must issue a provisional(60 days)operators license to a person with a valid bartenders license from another municipality and who has paid the proper fee. This important change not only benefits the employee but also the employer.
The streamlining of enforcement of video gambling laws stands as one of the Tavern League of Wisconsin’s biggest accomplishments. In an effort to provide statewide uniform enforcement of video gambling laws, the Legislature and Governor Doyle agreed with the TLW in supporting a bill to consolidate enforcement within the Department of Revenue, which already regulates the beverage licensed industry in Wisconsin. The result is a clear statewide standard easy for all licensees to follow instead of a patchwork of local ordinances regulating video amusement devices. The change moved enforcement from the local, county and Department of Justice and placed in within the DOR. Only agents from the DOR have the statutory authority to enforce the existing state laws relating to Chapter 945.
Without question, the biggest accomplishment of the Tavern League of Wisconsin is securing third party civil liability exemption; better known as Dram Shop Liability Insurance. Forty-four states require servers of alcohol to carry Dram Shop Liability Insurance which can range from $8,000–$20,000 a year for a small Mom and Pop establishment—if an insurance company will even underwrite a policy for a small tavern.
2013 Wisconsin Act 215 - An Act to create 125.09 (7) of the statutes; relating to: prohibiting municipalities from providing alcohol beverages retailers with identification scanners.
- Raising the limit from $150 to $2,500 for the value of signs, clocks and menu boards that a brewer or wholesaler may give to Class “B” licensee at one time
- Allowing brewers/wholesalers to give Class “B” licensees signs made of paper, cardboard, plastic, vinyl or other like material for placement inside the premises, with unlimited dollar value
- Increases from $75 to $500 the daily dollar limit that a brewer or wholesaler may spend to provide entertainment to a Class “B” licensee no more than 8 times a year (Note: This allows a brewer to spend up to $500 for entertainment and a wholesaler to spend up to $500 for entertainment for each brand they distribute.)
- Allow a brewer or wholesaler to contribute money or things of value to a bona-fide national, statewide or local trade association that derives its principal income from membership dues of Class “B” licensees
The TLW worked to pass legislation to provide for uniform compliance checks relating to tobacco stings. The bill requires persons involved in underage tobacco stings to follow a standard uniform compliance standard and will prohibit vigilante sting operations.
At the urging of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sponsored this legislation, which resulted in the following:
- Establishments under 3,750 square feet are exempt from paying royalty fees for the use of radios or TVs in their establishments.
- Establishments greater than 3,750 square feet are exempt from paying royalty fees if they use no more than six speakers of which not more than four are located in any one room or adjoining space, and if there are no more than four TVs of which not more than one is located in any room, and none is greater than 55 inches. TVs without the sound on are not required to pay any fees regardless of size and number in a room.
- Provides for a rate court to operate out of regional federal circuit court to handle rate disputes, instead of requiring disputes to be handled only in the New York federal district court.
- Music licensing with ASCAP and BMI creates up to 20% savings in licensing fees for members.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin successfully secured a variety of changes which directly benefits license holders. The key provision of the TLW Budget Change was an increase in the issuance of new liquor licenses to provide more value to existing license holders. The budget bill eliminated half of the un-issued licenses in the state and requires a minimum $10,000 application fee for new license holders.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin successfully lowered the penalties for our members who would occasionally run out of a bottle of liquor during business hours. If you were caught borrowing or buying a bottle of liquor from someone other than a wholesaler you faced huge fines, up to $10,000 and possible loss of your liquor license and possible prison time. You can now purchase up to 12 one liter bottles per month with a penalty not to exceed $100 with no threat to your license.
Bill Cracks Down on Excess Fines
Through the grassroots lobbying efforts of the Oshkosh City Tavern League, the TLW was successful in passing a bill to prohibit a municipality from issuing two citations for a single underage on premise violation as had been the case in Oshkosh. The law states that either the owner or bartender may be fined, but not both.
Legislation Helps Avoid Price Hike
The Tavern League of Wisconsin successfully defeated efforts to raise excise taxes on beer and a $1/pack cigarette tax in the 2003-05 budget bill as a means to help balance the $3.2 billion state budget deficit.
Standard Business Practices Protected
The Tavern League of Wisconsin fought back efforts to change the 15-day beer credit law for a more onerous law which would have negatively impacted retailers. An attempt was made to require cash on delivery for all Class “B” license holders.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin, along with its National Association, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) fought to permanently repeal the Special Occupational Tax (SOT). This was an annual fee of $250 you were required to pay because you were a retailer of beer and/or liquor. This tax had been with us since the Civil War.
The TLW successfully lobbied the Legislature to reduce penalties for operating certain video gaming machines. Through the grassroots lobbying effort of the TLW, the Legislature passed legislation that provides reasonable penalties for the possession of 5 or fewer video gaming devices on the premise of a Class “B” retailer.
The following is a side-by-side comparison of the old law vs. the new law for persons convicted of operating an illegal gambling device. The law can be found in the Wisconsin Statutes at 945.03 (2m) & 945.04 (2m).
Class E Felony
Maximum $10,000 fine
Maximum 2 years in prison
Loss of Liquor License
Maximum $500 fine per machine – up to 5 machines
No jail time
Cannot lose Liquor License