The 2013 Montana Legislature has made it to the halfway point, known as the transmittal date when most bills must be passed by one branch and sent to the other for further consideration. Those that fail to meet this date are dead in all but the rarest situations . Revenue bills and a couple other types have a bit longer to be introduced and transmitted.
HB 58, the Dept. of Revenue's attempt to create a brew-on-premise license, passed the House, but stalled out in the Senate. Comments on the Senate floor suggested a general desire to avoid adding yet another licensing layer for something that was indirectly regulated by existing laws. Frankly, the brew-on-premise license appeared to be a reasonable method to add clarity to the business model, but it won't be enacted this session.
HB 204, which would create a new license for boutique beer and wine stores, was tabled in the committee at the Sponsor's request. The Sponsor later introduced a bill to eliminate the grocery store/pharmacy requirement for off-premise retail licenses instead, thus eliminating the need to create a new category of license.
HB 405 would prohibit "a restaurant that does not have a beer and wine license from allowing any person to consume beer or wine or any other alcoholic beverage on the premises." Thus, the bill would eliminate BYOB to restaurants that do not have on-premise licenses. Not surprisingly, the bill is sponsored by one of the same Representatives behind the tap-room killing bill. The practice is already illegal according to the Dept. of Revenue, but the current statutory language is less than clear. This bill passed out of committee, but no floor votes have taken place. Because it has a new fine for violations, it is considered a revenue bill and remains alive.
HB 524, to eliminate the grocery store/pharmacy requirement for off-premise retail licenses passed out of committee with amendments. Because this bill anticipates generating revenue from additional license
applications, it is considered a revenue bill and remains alive despite not meeting the transmittal deadline. We'll have more on this bill soon.
LC0653, to allow breweries to also own retail licenses, has not been introduced.
The so called "90/10" bill, to prohibit breweries from selling more than 10% of their annual production from on-premise tap rooms was quickly shelved, but has been reincarnated as a rumored "60/40" bill by a different sponsor. It is now known as LC1429. We've not written about it because neither the title nor the text of the bill has been made available. Nevertheless, it has been the subject of numerous discussions and meetings around the legislature.
Word has it, the "60/40" bill is being characterized as a "revenue" bill which means it was not required to be transmitted from one chamber to the other by the half-way point. Thus, it could still be introduced. According to the Legislature's rules, a "revenue bill is one that either increases or decreases
revenue by enacting, eliminating, increasing, or decreasing taxes, fees,
or fines or by suspending or otherwise changing the allocation of
revenues." Not having the text to review makes it impossible to determine how this bill fits into the revenue category, but the legislature has historically had a pretty loose interpretation of the rule.
In the wine aisle, HB 425 and HB 425 were both tabled in committee. These bills would have allowed limited tasting events and allowed the sale of fortified wine in wine shops. They were heavily opposed by the Montana Tavern Association.
For all our articles pertaining to the 2013 Montana Legislature, click here.