WASHINGTON STATE

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Stonier bill to ease regulatory uncertainty for craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries approved

OLYMPIA – A bill aimed at reducing some regulatory uncertainty for Washington’s small business breweries, wineries, and distilleries passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 98-0.

The craft brewery, winery, and distillery industries have seen massive growth in Washington state over the last decade. As is often the case, state laws can have a difficult time keeping up with modern day realities.

HB 2517, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, would realign administrative sanctions for administrative alcohol violations committed by alcohol manufacturers.

Many of our state’s craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries have tasting rooms. They also participate in community events like farmers markets. These ancillary operations, meant to help promote the company’s products, can expose businesses to additional liability.

Washington state has adopted well-intended public safety laws and regulations that all businesses must abide by when serving alcohol to the general public. However, these state laws and rules don’t adequately distinguish between the main manufacturing operation and the ancillary business practices.

When it comes to administrative sanctions for violating public safety alcohol laws, current state laws and rules can jeopardize the entire manufacturing operation of a business.

HB 2517 will ensure administrative violations involving tasting rooms, community events, and other ancillary activities don’t jeopardize the entire manufacturing operation.

Quotes from Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, prime sponsor of HB 2517:

“I firmly believe Washington state should have strong safety rules in place so businesses can serve the public in a responsible fashion. But I also believe that the punishment should fit the crime. And under our current laws, an entire winery could be forced to close its doors forever over a relatively small administrative violation in their tasting room. That’s not the kind of business climate we want in Washington state. This is a common sense bill to protect our craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries we are proud to have here in the Pacific Northwest.”

“We absolutely need rules in place to protect the public. But those rules shouldn’t cripple the entire business of our Pacific Northwest craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries for small infractions. This proposal is a common-sense solution that maintains the integrity of our state’s public safety rules involving alcohol while ensuring Washington’s small businesses can operate without fear of overly excessive regulatory sanctions.”

“Businesses need to be held accountable when they commit infractions, and they will continue to be held accountable under this proposed bill. At the same time, Washington state is a great place to do business and we are proud of our craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Changes like these to our laws will help us stay competitive and attract new businesses to Washington state.”