I'm happy to field questions, and clarify NB's actions in regards to WI AB 290. I posted this response at the NB forum linked above, so pardon the repetition. I 100% echo what Gary has said here, and I'd like to add the following:
1. NB and the AHA heard about the public hearing only days before it actually took place. So, we heard roughly the same time everyone else did.
2. NB decided to remove our business concerns from the WIHBA efforts on homebrewers' concerns 6/7 months ago because we did not want to railroad the efforts, and felt that separating the two concerns (business and homebrewers rights) would have be stronger served if dealt with separately. Our two issues were:
A. Homebrew shops cannot currently brew on the premise of our shop - homebrew/wine can only be made in one's residence. We sought to overturn this will bill 290 to simply allow us to brew homebrewed beer and wine on premise for research, development and educational purposes.
B. We cannot serve samples of any kind on our premise. For the record, this was never "legal" and if homebrew shops were doing it they were operating in legally grey area at best. Through bill 290 we sought to get legal permission to serve samples for educational purpose.
3. Rep. Kooyenga approached us to help draft the bill and we moved on the effort as quickly as we could.
4. The bill was introduced to committee last week with strong support, and it was then proposed to add an amendment requiring shops to acquire Operator Licenses for those employees who'd be serving the samples. These are often refereed to as "Bartender" licenses, and that is essentially all they are. Very simple, very reasonable. It would cost us, in West Allis, $97 for a two year license per employee.
This is something we already do in MN when throwing events and beer is served of any kind. It is required for our liquor liability insurance to be valid. Anyone serving alcohol of any kind should be properly trained, in the eyes of the law, to check ID's, verify age, and recognize over-consumption. This license is merely a way of ensuring that serving of samples is done in a responsible way.
5. The AHA is only involved in this effort (AB 290) as much as the fact that I am a member of the Governing Committee and I have been in touch with Gary Glass the entire time, and have deferred to him on judgment and opinion when taking action. Gary has giving excellent support, guidance and advocacy for the homebrew shops in WI, and the homebrewers. Although the efforts of Gary and the AHA may not all be visible on the surface, be assured they are involved and engaged.
6. I, and NB, truly think this bill is strong, makes sense for all homebrew shops, and will put any question as to serving samples and brewing on premise in the past. I do not think this will adversely affect homebrewers/WIHBA efforts in anyway, in fact I think it will help.
The WI government sees the economic vitality of the the homebrewing industry and customer base right now. They do not want to get in the way of it, and are looking to help in over-turning these interpretations and making sure homebrewing is once again vibrant and uninhibited in Wisconsin.
Further, I think this legislation, much like the legislation in Oregon, can be a blueprint for other states looking to protect homebrewers, and homebrew shops.
We, as an industry and hobby, have been operating in some grey legal space for a long time. Some places are better the other to be sure, but the days of flying under the government's (Federal, State, county or municipal) are over. Homebrewing is just too big to go unnoticed. Being that, I think it is better to get proactive about working with these entities to find practical solutions.
7. NB is committed to helping the WIHBA in their respective efforts, and the efforts of homebrewwers across this country. Sometimes we get distracted, busy and perhaps lose connection with these efforts....AB 290 admittedly may suffer from this. Regardless, we had every single shop and every single homebrewer in mind this entire time, and we will continue to do so moving forward.