(The Center Square) – Minnesotans may fund a new council dedicated to evaluating changes to the state’s alcohol laws.
House Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Zach Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, authored bill HF2767, which aims to establish the Liquor Industry Advisory Council. Members would listen to and discuss measures from industry representatives.
The governor would appoint members for five-year terms for three representative groups: retail (composed of a municipal liquor store member, a liquor store member, a restaurant that sells liquor on site); wholesales (a labor union member, a distilled spirits wholesaler, a malt liquor wholesaler); and manufacturers (a microbrewer, a microdistillery and a larger manufacturer). Measures with majority support and at least one vote of support from each group would be advanced to the legislature.
Under Minnesota law, members of advisory councils and committees can receive $55 per day spent on council activities and be reimbursed for child care expenses they otherwise would not have had to pay.
The council must meet as frequently as necessary to complete its responsibilities and can conduct public hearings throughout Minnesota as necessary to allow people to comment and make suggestions on the state’s regulations of alcoholic beverages. Meetings are subject to open meeting laws.
The Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives would each appoint a caucus member liaison for the council.
The bill also proposes hiring two more full-time employees for the Division of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement with a $250,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2023 and requiring direct ship wineries licensed in other states to apply for direct ship licenses. Licenses would cost $50 for application and $50 for annual renewal.
Distillers would no longer be limited to selling one 375 ml bottle per day of spirits manufactured onsite to a customer. Instead, they could sell up to 750 ml in any size container or up to 1.125 liters in any size container approved that doesn’t exceed 375 ml, as long as they’re approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Brewers could brew up to and including 150,000 barrels of its own brands of malt liquor each year, instead of being limited to 20,000 barrels.
As of March 30, the bill was in the Ways and Means Committee.