State lawmakers approve several alcohol-related bills

MATT BENOIT MURROW NEWS SERVICEMarch 11, 2014 

OLYMPIA -- Alcohol sampling at farmers markets, free beer for spa customers and wine in growlers are some of the alcohol-related bills to pass through the state legislature this session.

Here are the bills likely headed to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk:

Day spas and farmers markets

Senate Bill 5045, which creates a special permit allowing day spas to offer free glasses of beer or wine to customers, passed the House for a second and final time Monday in an 86-12 vote.

The bill would allow one glass of wine, not to exceed six ounces, or one glass of beer, not to exceed 12 ounces, to be given to customers. Day spas cannot advertise the free alcohol, and can only offer it to customers participating in services lasting more than an hour.

The permit will cost $125 annually and be available for spas offering at least three of four types of beauty service: hair, nail, skin and body care. The spas must also have separate service areas for the three types of care offered.

In-state bed and breakfasts are allowed similar alcohol privileges by purchasing special annual permits.

Senate Bill 6514, which passed the Senate on Feb. 17 and the House on March 6, modifies provisions allowing farmers markets to sell and sample domestic wine and beer.

Farmers markets with combined gross annual sales of at least $1 million are eligible and sell and sample beer and wine.

Wine and cider growlers

Senate Bill 6442 allows certain businesses already selling beer to sell hard cider in reusable containers known as growlers. The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 13 and the House on March 6.

Hard cider cannot be sold in growlers because it is classified as wine, but under House Bill 1742, wine is also allowed to be sold in growlers.

The governor received the bill March 10, following a unanimous House vote and 43-6 Senate vote.

Spirits in the room

On the hard alcohol front, Senate Bill 6226 brings several changes for craft and general distilleries, including increasing annual production limits for craft distilleries from 60,000 to 150,000 gallons.

The bill also eliminates a rule limiting a person to buying three liters of craft spirits per day, allows craft distilleries to charge customers fees for 0.5-ounce or smaller-size samples, allows any licensed distillery to sell to or contract with other distillers, and allows any distillery to provide up to 2 ounces of samples to a person per day.

The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 18 and the House on March 6.

House Bill 2155, which passed the Senate unanimously March 7 following its Feb. 17 House passage, creates provisions to limit and prevent retail spirits theft.

The legislative session is scheduled to end March 13.

w Tri-City Herald intern Matt Benoit is a Washington State University student: 509-947-9277, mbenoit@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit_

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