>The long story short Northern Brewer has pursued their agenda to serve beer at their store in Milwaukee. Great! but this bill will torpedo home brewers.
I cannot see any way in which AB 290 torpedoes homebrewers. The bill language simply allows homebrew shops to make beer and wine on their premises for educational purposes, and to serve free samples of such beer and wine to their customers. You can see the bill for yourself here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/AB-290.pdf
After a committee hearing, the bill was amended to require an "Operators License", which as I understand it is simply a municipally issued bartenders license. The example I've seen for this license runs around $100 for a two year license. Of course, in my opinion, no license is better, but the license requirement seems consistent with other areas of the code addressing the serving of alcohol in businesses. Including the amendment likely avoids opposition from other small business groups that have to comply with license requirements.
The bill language that we've been working with on the Wisconsin Homebrewers Alliance is all about homebrewers rights, but it does not address serving homebrew at homebrew supply shops, so I think AB 290 fulfills a separate need. If AB 290 passes, I think that probably bodes well for passage of the homebrewer bill. AB 290 is a pro-business bill with bypartisan support that has now brought the issue of homebrewing before the Wisconsin legislature. In my mind that dramatically improves the chances for success of a grassroots homebrewers' rights bill, since educating legislators and getting them to care about a hobbyist bill is often the biggest challenge in getting homebrewer bills going.
Right now, I am optimistic for the chances of passage of the bill the WIHA has been working on. Hopefully the bill will be filed soon so we can move on to pushing it through the legislative process.