The Montana Department of Revenue's effort to create a new brew-on-premise license was moving along with little trouble until it hit the Senate floor for its second reading on Friday, Feb. 8. The department sought to enact a licensing scheme for businesses which rent equipment to persons who want to brew up their own homebrew, but lack the equipment or space to do so.
House Bill 58 easily passed through the House Business and Labor Committee (19-1 vote) followed by the full House of Representatives (70-29 vote). Even the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee passed it out of committee on a 7-3 vote.
When the bill came up for second reading on the Senate floor, comments from several legislators appeared to indicate some confusion regarding what the bill would regulate. The chief complaint, however, was the sense that the bill would regulate something that needed no further regulation: the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol was already covered under other laws, so why add more?
In the end, the vote on second reading failed 20-30 and was followed by a successful motion to indefinitely postpone it. Thus, HB 58 is not technically dead (since it did not fail on Third Reading), but it is highly unlikely the bill will get further consideration and has been put into the "probably dead" category.
As the sponsor noted at the first committee meeting in the House, declining to adopt the new license does not prohibit brew-on-premises businesses. It merely means they may move forward without any specific Montana regulations governing the operations.
For all our articles pertaining to the 2013 Montana Legislature, click here.