New Wisconsin Law Seen Hindering Small Producers, Common Carriers

Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed a bill creating a new liquor division within the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Among other things the law:

  • Provides full retail privileges for a brewery, winery, manufacturer or rectifier – provided it has produced 1,500 liters of "intoxicating liquor" in one of the preceding three years.
  • A manufacturer who produces more than 5,000 liters may be licensed to do full-service retail sales at more than 0ne location.
  • Allows brewpubs to make 20,000 barrels on its premises, up from 10,000, and doubles the number of barrels a brewpub can self-distribue to 2,000 barrels from 1,000.
  • Some observers say the bill works to disadvantage small wineries because a winery producing less than 1,000 gallons will be denied a full-servi cee retail license. This implements recommendations in a WSWA letter.
  • The measure empowers Wisconsin judges to impose sanctions on a licensee that shipped bev/al to another state if a division employee believes the Wiscosin licensee violated the other state's law. Sanctions would be imposed based on the other state's statutes.
  • Fulfillment houses and common carriers will be required to obtain permits. The common carrier is required not only to file reports but also guarantees that it only shipped a Wisconsin producer's product into Wisconsin.
  • If the common carrier ships product other than wine into Wisconsin obtained from a direct wine shipper or fulfillment house, it can be subject to a $2,000 fine.
  • It threatens to take away FedEx's and UPS's privileges if it makes two mistakes a year.