Alcohol Regulation Roundup: June 10, 2011

Reporting from around the nation on the ridiculous, the sad, and the sometimes positive news about the state of alcohol regulations.

National:, a website set up by two ad execs hoping to purchase Pabst Brewing Co. with donations from individuals, was shut down by the SEC. Michael Migliozzi and Brian William Flatow were able to find 5 million people who agreed to invest a total of $200 million to purchase the brewery. Apparently, they were supposed to register the public offering with the SEC first. Since the men haven’t actually collected money, the SEC reportedly reached a settlement with the two gentlemen, rather than charging them with violations of federal law.

Alabama: A silly law that requires brewpubs in Alabama to operate within an historic building might be overturned. The House of Representatives passed legislation removing that requirement for brewpubs to obtain licenses. The bill also removes restrictions on brewing and allows the pub owner to sell their product to wholesalers in order to distribute their product beyond the brewpub.

Maryland: The Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners is considering rule changes that would, among other things, allow county liquor stores to accept call-in deliver orders from residents. Not everyone in the state is happy with the proposed changes.

Ohio: Legislators in Ohio want to raise the cap on how high the alcohol content can be in beer from 12 percent to 18 percent. A provision in the proposed state budget would do just that, to the delight of brewers and craft beer lovers in the state.

Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, drinkers are apparently still paying for a flood that happened 122 years ago. The Johnstown St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 prompted the state to add an 18 percent sales tax to alcohol to help raise money to rebuild the town. They achieved the goal of rebuilding in 1942, yet the tax continues on, bringing in about $200 million a year.

Utah: As a way of circumventing Utah’s ridiculous requirement that bartenders be hidden from view of patrons, restaurants in the state are reportedly forgoing the restaurant license application and instead choosing to apply for club permits, as such a license would not require that the bartender operate in a separate room.

Virginia: Regulatory burdens kill World Beer Fest, resulting in a significant loss of jobs, economic stimulation, and charity money. Among other things, the organizers of World Beer Fest, which last year had 100 breweries, said that they “struggled with regulatory requirements and trade practices in executing our festival model in Richmond” and, as such, would not be able to hold the festival which was scheduled for June 18. All of the proceeds would have gone the year’s chosen charity, Fetch-A-Cure, which provides funds for animal medical care to low-income owners.

Wisconsin: The State’s Joint Finance Committee has approved a bill that would ban beer brewers from owning distributorships in Wisconsin. See my lengthier post on the topic here.

Washington: Late last month, the Washington State Legislature approved a bill that directs the Office of Financial Management to seek out contracts for private companies to which they can lease the state’s liquor warehouse. Observers have noted that this current initiative could clash with future attempts at liquor privatization in the state. Last year, the push for privatization achieved a good measure of public support, though it ultimate failed in a ballot vote.