Alcohol Regulation Roundup: January 14, 2010

Gulf States: Laws in some Gulf States get in the way of charity aimed at helping victims of Hurricane Katrina. This article in the Houston Business Journal highlights how silly alcohol regulations in gulf states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas hamper efforts by some brewers to sell beer that would divert a portion of proceeds to Katrina victims. A beer created by Louisiana brewery Abita can’t be sold in Alabama because it is sold in a 22 ounce container. In Alabama, beer bottles are limited to under 16 ounces by state law. And because the brew is 7 percent abv, it is banned in Mississippi where beer is capped at 5 percent abv.

Connecticut: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said that he plans on honoring his campaign promise to approve Sunday sales in the state.

Georgia: The times they are a-changin’, and with a new governor might come a chance to overturn Georgia’s outdated ban on Sunday liquor sales. Republican Rep. Roger Williams has tried to get a local referendum in the past, he contends that outgoing governor Perdue’s staunch opposition squashed his efforts. Governor-elect Nathan Deal, however, is quoted as being in favor of letting local jurisdictions decide for themselves. “They’re the ones closest to the issue . . . the ones that I think are in the position to more appropriately to make that judgment call,” Deal said.

Alabama: Bottle-size limitation and brewery tasting laws are on tap to change in Alabama’s next legislative session. However, grassroots organizations such as Free the Hops will have an uphill battle getting attention for their issue considering that the Chamber meets about two days a week for only three months a yearAlong with Mississippi, Alabama has some of the most restrictive alcohol laws in the nation. Free the Hops has pushed legislation in the past, such as 2009’s Gourmet Beer Bill that raised the alcohol cap on beer from 6 percent to 13.9 percent. This year, they plan to introduce legislation that would do away with the states outdated container laws which caps beer cans and bottles at 16 ounces (excluding draft and keg beer) with the Brewery Modernization Act.

Maryland: State Senator Ron Young supports changing both Maryland’s corkage and wine shipping laws.

Mississippi: Grassroots organization “Raise your pints” will be working to revive two bills that died in the last session. The first (last year’s HB 731) would raise the alcohol cap on beer to 10 percent; it is currently capped at 5 percent abw. The group will also be working to lift the state ban on home-brewing, (represented in last year’s HB 732).

Washington: A new legislative action by Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles would bring beer and wine sampling to Seattle’s farmer’s markets. The bill, SB 5029, is modeled after a recent law that permits the sampling of beer and wine at grocery stores.