The Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session was awash with alcohol-related legislation. In the week following the session, the governor signed into law legislation allowing 18-year-old servers in restaurants, drive-thru and curbside sales, hands-on alcohol production instruction in colleges and universities and alcohol sales for Birmingham food/beverage trucks.
ABC-APPROVED WINE TO-GO CONTAINERS NOW LAW
Retail table wine licensees can dispense wine for off-premises consumption in containers approved by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under Act No. 2022-39, which became law Feb. 23. Previously, table wine licensees could dispense wine for off-premise use only in the original unopened containers.
WASHINGTON COUNTY WET REFERENDUM
A local constitutional amendment that would allow Washington County to go from a dry county to a wet county will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot based on Act No. 2022-263.
Four entertainment bills were signed into law during the 2022 regular session:
- Starting July 1, Huntsville and Montgomery will be able to increase the allowable number of entertainment districts in those cities, under Act No. 2022-197. The law allows Class 3 municipalities to have up to nine entertainment districts, rather than the current limit of five.
- Birmingham can increase its allowed entertainment districts from five to 15, under Act No. 2022-134, which the governor allowed to become law March 11 without her signature. It takes effect June 1. Sen. Rodger M. Smitherman, D-Birmingham, author of the Birmingham law, said tripling the possible number of entertainment districts in the Magic City is necessary to “accommodate the growing food and beverage community in Birmingham.”
- As of March 10, the Albertville City Council can authorize entertainment districts,
- Starting May 1, Russell Lands will be able to create an entertainment district on its property on Lake Martin under Act No. 2022-50
Legislation that would have allowed the Homewood City Council by ordinance to establish an entertainment district in the West Homewood Business District died in the final week of the regular session.
Four more Alabama cities can now authorize draft beer:
- As of March 24, the city of Lineville can permit draft beer sales through a city ordinance.
- As of March 28, the Jackson City Council can by ordinance or resolution authorize draft or keg beer sales in any size containers for on- or off-premises consumption.
- As of April 14, the city of Thorsby can through a city ordinance permit draft beer sales in any size containers for on- or off-premises consumption.
- As of July 1, the city of Geneva can by ordinance authorize draft or keg beer sales.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DISTRICTS
As of July 1, alcohol sales will be allowed within a community development district that includes a private golf community in dry Limestone County.
Alcohol sold in Cullman County community development districts will be taxed at the same rate as liquor in the county’s largest municipality starting June 1, under legislation that became law March 17. The previous tax rate was based on the beer and wine rate.
DIED THIS SESSION
BREWERY WITH FINANCIAL INTEREST IN A BREWPUB
A bill that would allow a brewery in Birmingham producing more than 60,000 barrels annually to have a financial interest in a brewpub passed the Senate, but the House never considered it.
Like the 2019 law that allowed small craft breweries (60,000 barrels or less sold annually) to have a financial interest in a brewpub, SB259 was written specifically for Monday Night Brewing, an Atlanta-based craft brewery, that operates Monday Night Social Club, near Regions Field and Railroad Park in Birmingham. The business expects to surpass the annual 60,000-barrel mark and without this legislation, it could lose its brewpub license.
SB259 would have limited off-premise sales to Monday Night Brewing’s brewpub customers to 64 ounces per customer per day. It also would have amended the state law to allow any brewery to have financial interest in one brewpub.
ALLOWING PRIVATE BUSINESSES TO BUY WHOLESALE ALCOHOL BEFORE STATE
Chances dimmed last week for legislation that would have given private alcohol licensees the first pick of wholesale alcohol inventory shipped to the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The bill died Wednesday.
Last week, the full Senate briefly considered SB289 by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, then carried it over. Whatley tried to bring it up again this week, but ended up asking it be indefinitely postponed.
The Alabama ABC Board is the state’s sole importer and wholesaler of liquor products for both state and private liquor businesses.
Whatley’s bill would have given private liquor licensees, those that sell on- or off-premise or both, a 30-day window to buy at the wholesale level from the ABC board before those products were released to state-run ABC stores. It also would have allocated 80% of the products to private businesses with 20% going to state stores.
“Restaurants, bars and package stores aren’t getting the product they need,” Brandon Owens, executive director of the Alabama Beverage Licensees Association told lawmakers.
Neil Graff, ABC’s chief operating officer for product management, said there is a global supply issue. He said the bill have would forced consumers into private alcohol stores, which sell alcohol at a much higher price than state stores.
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