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Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

Category archives for “Alcohol Legislation”

Tennessee House of Representatives Overwhelmingly Passes Wine in Grocery Stores Bill

February 24th, 2014

Last Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed House Bill 610 by a vote of 71-15, voting to allow the issue of the sale of wine in grocery stores to be submitted to voters in local referendums, and creating a permit for the sale of wine by grocery stores. On January 30, the Senate had approved Senate Bill 837 by a vote of 23-8. The Bill will now be returned to the Senate to review the remaining differences between the two bills, before it goes to the Governor for signature. If signed by the Governor, it is anticipated that the issue could be on local November ballots for consumers to weigh in on local approval of grocery store wine sales.

One of the key differences between the two bills was fixed by the House in its new version, with the reduction of minimum size for grocery and convenience stores from 2,000 to 1,200 square feet, allowing about 500 more convenience stores to qualify. The House also reduced the fee for a grocery store wine license to $1,250 from $2,000, bringing it closer to the $850 in the Senate Bill. Already, following the House vote, Sen. Bill Ketron, the Republican who sponsored the Senate Bill, indicated to reporters that he planned to accept the House version and could ask for a vote as soon as March 3.

Even if approved, wine sales won’t be possible in grocery locations until summer 2016 due to an agreement reached with lobbies for liquor stores and wholesalers that had opposed the proposals. In another concession to liquor stores, both bills open up opportunities for traditional liquor stores to sell items other than alcohol and to do so as soon as this summer, two years before any grocery store wine sales could begin. Liquor stores are currently allowed to sell only wine and distilled spirits and a few minor accessories like corkscrews. Additionally, grocery stores would be subject to a minimum 20% markup on wines sold, in an attempt to address volume discounting, and would be prevented from offering combined deals of wine and other grocery items. To encourage wholesaler support, the Senate Bill allows for wholesalers to be located outside the four major cities in the state which they are currently restricted to, and the House Bill would extend that even further to any county which currently permits bars or liquor stores to operate. Blue laws, preventing Sunday sales of alcohol, will not be affected by any new legislation, and such sales will continue to be prohibited.

The debate in Tennessee has been ongoing since 2006. It is not the only state which has been discussing this issue as we previously blogged here. Currently, thirty-five states do not restrict the sale of wine in grocery stores. No state has managed to pass legislation changing the status quo since Iowa permitted grocery store sales in 1985. Factions in New York, now the second largest wine-producing state by volume, have attempted to pass wine in grocery store bills on numerous occasions, including a significant push in 2011. The Kansas House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee held a hearing Wednesday on House Bill 2556 which would allow the sale of full strength beer and wine in grocery stores, inducing vigorous debate. A bill introduced to the Oklahoma Legislature this month, which would permit wine to be sold in grocery stores and nonalcoholic beverages and refrigerated beer and wine to be sold in liquor stores, died in Committee. And last month, a federal appeals court in Kentucky ruled that the state’s ban on grocery store sales of wine and liquor was constitutional. The court said that the state had every right to ban such sales, “just as a parent can reduce a child’s access to liquor.” The grocers who filed the original challenge to the law are reviewing rehearing and appeal options now.

If you have any questions about where wine can be sold, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved ·

Clarifications from the ABC on Sweepstakes and Contests in California

October 17th, 2013

On June 13, 2013, guests attending ShipCompliant’s “Direct 2013” conference heard from Matthew Botting, General Counsel to the California ABC, on supplier participation in sweepstakes and contests under California’s new law.  We’ve previously blogged about the new law here and here.

California Code of Regulations Title 4, Section 106 (“Rule 106”) has always allowed suppliers to “sponsor” a contest, meaning suppliers could give money or otherwise participate when the contest was organized by “bona fide amateur or professional organizations.”  Previously, the privilege was limited.  Now, the privileges are broader:  suppliers (including wineries) can now “conduct” a contest under recently enacted Business and Professions Code Section 25600.1, and conduct or sponsor a sweepstakes under 25600.2.  Mr. Botting discussed the different available privileges and their limitations:

*   “Conduct” means the promotion is managed and organized by the supplier.
*   “Sponsor” means it is someone else’s sweepstakes or contest and the supplier is providing a prize or other sponsorship of the promotion.
*    For the time being, suppliers can only sponsor a contest in accordance with the existing Rule 106, which means sponsorship is limited to a contest conducted by bona fide amateur or professional organizations.
*    Sponsoring a sweepstakes and conducting a sweepstakes or contest is now covered by Business and Professions Code Section 25600.1 and 25600.2.  Sweepstakes or contests cannot require a visit to a licensed premises of any kind, so there must be an alternate method of entry (“AMOE”) if entry forms are available at a licensee.
*     Sweepstakes and contests cannot be conducted on retail premises (e.g., a grocery store, liquor store, bar or restaurant).  A “retail premise” includes some locations you might not think of, such as: an unlicensed premises if a licensed caterer is present, or at an event held by a nonprofit under a one-day permit. The ABC considers events held with a caterer’s license or a nonprofit one-day permit to occur “at the premises of a retail licensee,” and therefore a supplier may only provide a means of entry at either of these types of events.
*     While suppliers may provide a means of entry for the contest or sweepstakes, the contest or sweepstakes may not be conducted at a winery or brewery’s duplicate tasting room.
*     A contest or sweepstakes can only be advertised at a retailer if it is advertised at a minimum of three different retailers, and winners shouldn’t be picked at a licensed retail event nor in a tasting room.

The full presentation by Mr. Botting can be seen here (starting at the 5:00 minute mark).

Before conducting or sponsoring any contest or sweepstakes, be sure to consult the relevant laws, Business & Professions Code Sections 25600.1, 25600.2, and, if applicable, Rule 106 (regarding contests), and pay particular attention to whether the supplier involved holds a license that allows it to participate.

Contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel if you have questions about contests and sweepstakes in California or other states.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

California On Sale General Public Premises (Type 48) Licensees Must Post Human Trafficking Notification

September 24th, 2013

To raise awareness and provide resources to potential victims of human trafficking, California Civil Code Section 52.6 now mandates that, as of April 1, 2013, all On Sale General Public Premises (Type 48) retail licensees, along with certain other types of businesses, must post a notice about human trafficking.  The United States Department of State estimates that 14,500-17,500 victims are trafficked into the United States each year, with California as one of the country’s top four destination states.

The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place (near the public entrance or in clear view of the public and employees), measure at least 8.5 inches by 11 inches, and the following message must appear in at least size 16 font:

“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave — whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, construction, factory, retail, or restaurant work, or any other activity — call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or the California Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) at 1-888-KEY-2-FRE(EDOM) or 1-888-539-2373 to access help and services. Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and California law.

The hotlines are:

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Toll-free.
Operated by nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations.
Anonymous and confidential.
Accessible in more than 160 languages.
Able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information.”

This notice must be in English and Spanish, and a model notice is available here. Depending on the county, the notice may also be required in another language.  A list of those counties is available here.

For more information on this posting requirement, call the Victim Services Unit at the California Attorney General’s Office toll free: (877) 433-9069.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

California Senate Bill Could Extend the Last Call for Alcohol

March 20th, 2013

On March 11th, Senator Mark Leno introduced Senate Bill 635 which would allow California businesses to serve alcohol between the hours of 2 and 4 am. These extended hours would apply solely to on-sale premises such as restaurants, entertainment venues and nightclubs, and not to off-sale premises such as liquor stores or gas stations. SB 635 would allow California cities to join the ranks of other major U.S. cities such as New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami and Washington D.C., as well as numerous international cities and countries which permit late or continuous beverage service. At least nine other states have similar legislation in place.

Supporters of the bill argue the extended hours will increase tourism, tax revenue and jobs, and provide relief to law enforcement agencies and public transportation systems currently burdened by uniform closing times. Critics cite noise and various other public safety concerns that may arise from an additional two hours of boozing.

If SB 635 passes, cities and counties that want to extend their hours will be required to apply to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) for approval.  Under the bill, the ABC is required to conduct a “thorough investigation into whether the additional hours would serve the public convenience or necessity.” Similar to the process of obtaining an alcoholic beverage license, the city or county would be required to notify residents, law enforcement agencies and other interested parties of their application. Interested parties would then have a 30-day period from the date of notice to file protests. The ABC would reject protests it deems unreasonable.  For those with protests deemed acceptable, the ABC would provide an opportunity to address their concerns in a hearing.

Even if the bill becomes law, our experience with “public convenience or necessity” determinations and neighbor protests tends to suggest an uphill battle for many licensees who would like to obtain a 4 a.m. closing time. We will see how the bill fairs in policy committee hearings this spring.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

New Rules for Party Buses

January 3rd, 2013

Assembly Bill 45 became law January 1, 2013, and closes a loophole that held limousine operators, but not charter buses, responsible for underage drinking. The law requires chaperones and ID checks on party buses that carry both alcohol and underage passengers.

The law is also known as “the Studebaker Law,” named after Brett Studebaker, of Burlingame, who died in 2010 when he was 19 years old. Studebaker died in a collision on Highway 101 near San Mateo on his way home from San Francisco, when  his car crashed into a barrier and then into another car. He had been drinking for several hours on a party bus, after which he was attempting to drive himself and another man home when the crash occurred. The passenger sustained serious injuries, but survived. Studebaker’s blood alcohol level was reportedly more than three times the legal limit for drivers over the age of 21.

Another incident which may have played a part in getting the bill signed occurred last summer and involved a party bus and a physical altercation between two young women, one of whom was underage. The bus was traveling from a concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View to Santa Cruz on Highway 17. During the fight, the women fell out of the bus, which was traveling at 45 mph, and one of the women was run over and died.

The new law will require party bus companies to ask customers during booking whether there will be any passengers under 21 years of age and if there will be alcohol served. If so, the customer must designate a chaperone who is at least 25 years old to be present throughout the trip. The chaperone is responsible for making sure the underage passengers aren’t drinking. If at any time a minor is found drinking alcohol, the chaperone must inform the bus driver, and the trip must be terminated. The chaperone is then responsible for making sure the minors that were drinking alcohol get home or safely into the care of their parents.

The law also holds drivers accountable for verifying the age of passengers they suspect to be under 21. If there are underage passengers and there isn’t supposed to be alcohol onboard, the driver must check for alcohol if it is suspected. If the driver finds alcohol, then the trip must be terminated unless the alcohol is locked under the bus.

If party bus companies do not comply with the new law, they could face up to $2,000 in fines and their permits may be suspended for up to 30 days or revoked. Bus drivers and chaperones could face misdemeanor charges for noncompliance.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

New North Carolina Beer Franchise Act Now Effective

June 5th, 2012

Revisions to the North Carolina malt beverages franchise act became effective yesterday when the Governor signed Senate Bill 745. Last year’s similar bill was stalled after brewers took issues with some of the terms. Senate Bill 745 is a compromise bill that passed the legislature with wide margins. Among the changes, the new law explicitly states that the meaning of “good cause” for termination purposes cannot be modified from the definition set forth in North Carolina law; however, there is a provision in the law that allows brewers that obtain self-distribution approval from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to terminate a wholesaler franchise relationship without good cause if “fair market value for the distribution rights for the affected brand” is paid to the wholesaler. Fair market value is determined not as an average price, but must be “highest dollar amount at which a seller would be willing to sell and a buyer willing to buy.” See Senate Bill 745, § 18B-1305(a1). The bill also revises what constitutes good cause, what factors a supplier may consider when approving an assignment, transfer or merger of a wholesaler, treatment of brand extensions, and prohibited acts by suppliers.

The new law also introduces a mandatory mediation requirement. If a dispute arises among a supplier and a wholesaler that is likely to lead to litigation, then the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission can require the parties to submit to mediation in an effort to resolve the dispute. This requirement may arise solely by the initiative of the Commission, or either party to the dispute may request that the Commission mandate the mediation. See Senate Bill 745, § 18B-1309. This new provision makes North Carolina one of the few states with laws on mediation for resolution of conflicts between beer suppliers and wholesalers. California and Maryland are the only other two states that discuss mediation in their beer franchise acts. See Cal. Bus & Prof. Code § 25000.2; Md. Code Ann. § 21-103.

It remains imperative for suppliers to review a state’s laws and regulations when entering into a distribution agreement and also to give oneself enough time for review and negotiation of the agreement, especially in light of the fact that states like North Carolina are further restricting the ability of suppliers and wholesalers to contract around franchise act laws. For more information about distribution agreements and franchise acts, please see our prior post available here or feel free to contact an attorney at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·

Apply Now! Direct Wine Shipping Opens in New Jersey

May 7th, 2012

At long last, as of May 1, 2012, applications for Out-of-State Winery licenses are being accepted in New Jersey, which will permit out-of-state wineries to ship wine directly to New Jersey consumers.  As discussed in earlier posts, including here, New Jersey’s law was passed early in 2012, and makes New Jersey the 39th state to allow winery direct shipping.  The law permits wineries producing no more than 250,000 gallons of wine per year to ship wine directly to consumers in the state.  License holders may ship no more than 12 cases of wine each year per consumer for personal use.  The license also includes limited privileges for holders to sell wine directly to retailers, and for tasting room privileges within New Jersey.

No regulations were promulgated to go along with the direct shipping statute, but earlier this week, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control released instructions and application forms for Out-of-State Winery licenses that provide more information about direct shipping, and which can be found here.  First, the Out-of-State Winery license will be the most expensive direct shipping license in the county, with tiered pricing depending on the amount of wine produced, but costing $938 annually for wineries producing between 50,000 and 250,000 each year.   Additionally, the instructions clarify that wine shipped must be manufactured by the Out-of-State Winery license holder.  Other details of interest to potential applicants include: a) all applicants must register with the Secretary of state; b) a bond is required; c) all applicants must register with the Division of Taxation; and d) all brands must be registered before they can be shipped into the state. Each of these requirements comes with additional fees, so wineries should make sure the anticipated sales volumes warrant the costs of getting set-up.

Please feel free to contact one of our attorneys if you are interested in more information about direct winery shipping in New Jersey.

New Jersey Moves One Step Closer to Direct Wine Shipping

January 11th, 2012

Late Monday night, on the last day of New Jersey’s legislative session, the state Assembly voted 51-18-4 in favor of Bill A-4336, New Jersey’s wine direct shipping bill.  The companion bill, S-3172, passed the New Jersey Senate last month, and now only the governor’s approval stands in the way of New Jersey becoming the 39th state to allow some form of direct shipping.  Under the bill, New Jersey Farm Wineries, New Jersey Plenary Wineries that produce 250,000 gallons or less of wine a year, and out-of-state wineries that produce 250,000 gallons of wine or less each year and that obtain an out-of-state shipping license will be able to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to any New Jersey consumer.  If the bill is signed by New Jersey Governor Christie as expected, the law will go into effect in May, 2012.  To see our earlier posts on this topic, check here and here.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·

California Grocers Association Challenges ABC Advisory on New Self-Checkout Ban

December 29th, 2011

On January 1, 2012, California Business and Professions Code Section 23394.7 goes into effect, which aims to regulate alcohol sales at self-checkout terminals.  The controversial law provides that “no privileges under an off-sale license shall be exercised by the licensee at any customer-operated checkout stand located on the licensee’s physical premises.”  The law has been opposed since its inception by grocery stores with self-checkout and has been supported by retail clerks labor unions, among other entities.

The California Alcoholic Beverage Control issued an Industry Advisory to explain the new law last week, and the California Grocers Association (“CGA”) just filed a petition contesting the terms of the Advisory.  For example, the Industry Advisory provides in part, “it is clear that ‘customer-operated checkout stand’ means a checkout stand or station that is designated for operation by the customer.”  In its petition in the California Third District Court of Appeal, the CGA argues that the ABC overstepped its regulatory authority by defining one of the law’s key provisions in the Advisory, rather than going through the formal rule-making process required by the California Administrative Procedure Act.  The CGA also argues that the definition put forth by the ABC is inconsistent with the statute.  The CGA has asked that the Advisory be set aside, or that its effect at least be delayed until the issue has been resolved.  Check back for updates!

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2011 · All Rights Reserved ·

UPDATE: New Jersey Senate Passes Direct Shipping Bill

December 19th, 2011

Updating our post of late last week, the New Jersey Senate last Thursday voted 23 to 13 in favor of Bill S-3172, permitting wineries to ship directly to New Jersey consumers.  Now that it has passed the Senate, the New Jersey Assembly has to vote on the bill by January 9, 2012, the last day of the legislative session.  Under the bill, New Jersey Farm Wineries, New Jersey Plenary Wineries that produce 250,000 gallons or less of wine a year, and out-of-state wineries that produce 250,000 gallons of wine or less each year and that obtain an out-of-state shipping license would be able to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to any New Jersey consumer.  If passed, New Jersey would become the 39th state to allow direct shipping.  Check back in early 2012 for an update!

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2011 · All Rights Reserved ·