In a contentious and heated hearing, Senate Bill 202, which aims to shift hours that breweries can serve beer from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m., was tabled on a 10-1 vote Thursday by the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee of the Montana Legislature, in a meeting that lasted nearly an hour and a half.
The hearing turned from a talk about shifting hours to a talk about Montana’s liquor-licensing system in general. Not surprisingly, the Montana Tavern Association and most of those with cabaret and all-liquor licenses opposed the meaure, saying they don’t want to have to compete with taprooms that pay a fraction of the costs they do to serve alcohol.
At one point near the end of the hearing, Sen. Ryan Zinke, R- Whitefish, was asked by Chairman Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, “What were you drinking when you agreed to sponsor this bill?” (Zinke’s answer, jokingly, was “beer.”)
The measure now is effectively dead, but the issue could be brought up again attached to another draft bill relating to the brewing industry.
A proposal called the Made in Montana Brewery Act, which was mentioned during the hearing, is something Zinke has been trying to work on with the Montana Brewers Association and the Tavern Association, but talks have recently dissipated as the Brewers Association and the Tavern Association have not been able to agree on what licensing price would be fair for existing breweries and new breweries. The proposal could lift the restrictions on the amount of beer that breweries can export, currently 10,000 barrels, and still serve pints in their taprooms, among other changes. However, no progress has been made on the proposal.
Another possibility would be a bill to revamp the entire system, something that the Legislature has talked about for a long time with no progress.
- Matt Pritchard
The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee will hear Senate Bill 202 by Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, at 9 a.m. Thursday in Room 422 at the Capitol in Helena. As written about before, the measure aims to shift taproom hours from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m. If you support the bill there are a couple of things you can do. First, you can attend the hearing and tell the panel why this bill is good for Montana. Second, you can contact your lawmaker and let them know you want this legislation to pass. Here’s a list of the committee members and their e-mail addresses: (more…)
Senate Bill 202 is tentatively scheduled to go before the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee next week, says Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association. The measure looks to shift the hours that brewery taprooms are allowed to serve beer from the current 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m., with drinks having to be finished by 11 p.m.
The bill is sure to face a difficult test. Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish and sponsor of the legislation, says SB202 has received an “amazing amount of push back” from those who own beer-and-wine and all-liquor licenses. The reason being is that those bars and restaurants pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, to serve alcohol, and they don’t want to have to compete with breweries that pay a fraction of that for their licenses. It’s important to note, however, that the bill neither increases hours nor changes the amount of beer breweries are allowed to serve; it will still be three pints, or the alcohol equivalent thereof.
Zinke says while he understands the investment bars and restaurants have in their businesses, breweries carry a hefty investment as well, and this bill will help promote the industry as well as create jobs in Montana.
An MBA petition in favor of the shift has gathered more than 900 signatures to date, and other polls on newspaper websites, as well as an editorial in the Missoulian, have shown support for the measure. Here at Grizzly Growler we now have our own poll and it will be up on the site until the hearing starts next week. Vote, and be heard.
- Matt Pritchard
Senate Bill 203, which clarifies a rule to allow taverns with all-beverage licenses to fill growlers for off-premise consumption, won unanimous approval in the Senate Business and Labor Committee on Tuesday morning. With the vote, the measure will almost surely pass the Legislature. Good news for beer drinkers.
The bill most breweries are waiting for, Senate Bill 202 by Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, which would shift the hours brewery taprooms are allowed to serve beer from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m. (drinks have to be finished by 11 p.m.), is still awaiting action in the Senate Business and Labor Committee. A petition on the Montana Brewers Association’s website has garnered almost 900 signatures to date.
- Matt Pritchard
On Tuesday, the Senate Business and Labor Committee takes up Senate Bill 203, by Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, to allow the nonbrewery sale of growlers for off-premise consumption.
The hearing is the first craft-beer related measure of the 2011 Legislature and in all likelihood will pass. Having bars fill growlers has been going on for a long time in Montana and until recently no one thought anything of it.
Last April, the Montana Revenue Department sent out a proposed rule that would have made it illegal for bars with all-beverage licenses (such as the Rhino in Missoula) to fill growlers with beer. The Revenue Department shelved the idea to have the Legislature sort it out and revise the wording of the proposal.
“16-3-303. Sale of beer by retailer for consumption off premises. It is lawful for an on-premises retailer to sell or furnish beer to the public in its original package or in growlers and the beer must be taken away from the premises of the retailer for consumption off the premises of such the retailer. Growlers may not be filled in advance of sale and may be furnished by the consumer.”
The hearing starts at 9 a.m.
- Matt Pritchard