OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 386 (File 348, as amended by Senate “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING ALCOHOLIC LIQUOR.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes several unrelated changes to the Liquor Control Act by:

1. banning powdered alcohol;

2. expanding the hours a bowling establishment permittee may sell alcohol outside of its bar area by allowing alcohol sales in the bowling alley area after 11:00 a.m., rather than after 2:00 p.m.;

3. generally allowing those age 16 and 17, rather than age 18, to be employed by businesses holding an alcoholic permit;

4. (a) limiting licensed farm wineries that offer tastings of free wine or brandy samples to dispensing such samples out of bottles or containers that hold up to two gallons and (b) allowing wineries to sell on their premises brandy manufactured from Connecticut-harvested fruit and distilled in-state but off the premises;

5. (a) allowing manufacturer permittees who produce less than 25,000 gallons to sell alcoholic liquor at retail, (b) limiting wholesale distribution to manufacturer permittees who sells less than 10,000 gallons a year, (c) eliminating a manufacturer permittee's ability to obtain a wholesaler permit, and (d) changing certain tasting requirements;

6. allowing cider manufacturer permittees to offer free samples of cider and apple wine;

7. requiring certain manufacturer permittees to offer nonalcoholic beverages;

8. allowing package stores to sell cigars; and

9. creates a farmers' market beer sales permit.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) eliminates a manufacturer permittee's ability to (a) obtain a wholesaler permit under current law and (b) charge for a tasting under the original bill; (2) reduces the free nonalcoholic drink amount requirement from 12 ounces to six; and (3) creates a farmers' market beer sales permit.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage; except July 1, 2015 for the bowling alley, farm winery dispensing, and nonalcoholic drink provisions; and October 1, 2015 for the powdered alcohol provision.

BANNING POWDERED ALCOHOL

The bill bans anyone from knowingly purchasing, possessing, or selling powdered alcohol. Powdered alcohol means molecularly encapsulated alcohol in powdered form that may be used in such form or reconstituted as an alcoholic beverage.

Anyone who knowingly (1) purchases or possesses powdered alcohol is subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses or (2) sells powdered alcohol is subject to a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

AGE 16 AND 17 TO WORK IN BUSINESSES WITH ALCOHOLIC PERMITS

The bill generally allows those age 16 and 17 to be employed by businesses holding an alcoholic permit. Under current law, employees must be over age 18 to work at businesses with an alcoholic permit, except those over age 15 may work at businesses with a grocery store beer permit. The bill also prohibits those under age 18, including those under the grocery store beer permit, from serving or selling alcoholic liquor.

ALCOHOLIC MANUFACTURER LICENSE

Retail Sales for Off-premises Consumption

The bill allows manufacturer permittees that produce less than 25,000 gallons of alcoholic liquor a calendar year to sell alcoholic liquor they manufacture at retail from their premises, in sealed bottles or other containers for off-premises consumption. Permittees must not sell to any individual more than (1) 1.5 liters of alcoholic liquor per day or (2) five gallons in a two month period. (The bill does not specify how the permittees must keep track of such sales.)

Retail sales are only allowed during the allowable hours of alcohol sales for off-premises consumption. By law, off-premises sale and dispensing of alcohol are only allowed from Monday to Saturday between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and Sundays between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  The law also prohibits permittees from selling or dispensing alcohol on Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Day, and Christmas Day.

Wholesale Distribution

Under current law, manufacturer permittees may wholesale distribute their own product to retailers. The bill limits this ability to manufacturers, either alone or in combination with any parent or subsidiary business or related or affiliated party that sells less than 10,000 gallons in a calendar year, who can continue to wholesale distribute their own product in the state.

The bill eliminates manufacturer permittees' ability to apply for and obtain a wholesaler permit, which allows them to distribute other alcohol permittees' products.

Tastings

Current law allows manufacturer permits to offer free tastings of up to 0.5 ounces. The bill allows manufacturers to charge for the tastings and increases the tasting amount to two ounces, but it limits such tastings to a once daily basis per person.

CIDER TASTING

The bill allows manufacturer permittees for cider to offer free on-premises samples of cider and apple wine that is manufactured on-premises. The cider manufacturers may limit these tastings to visitors who have taken a tour of the premises.

The tastings must not be more than two ounces per patron and only be conducted on the premises between (1) 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and (2) 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. Permittees must not offer or allow tasting consumption by any minor or intoxicated person. By law, any permittee that sells or delivers alcoholic liquor to a minor or drunkard may be subject to a maximum civil fine of $1,000 and a criminal penalty of up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year imprisonment, or both.

NONALCOHOLIC DRINKS

The bill requires manufacturer permittees for beer, cider, apple brandy and eau-de-vie, farm wineries, brewpubs, and beer and brew pubs to offer either (1) free potable water to anyone who requests it or (2) nonalcoholic beverages for sale.

Permittees are only required to provide these nonalcoholic beverages during hours alcoholic liquor may be sold for on-premises consumption. By law, these activities are allowed between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the next morning on Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. the next morning for Friday and Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the next morning on Sunday.

The potable water must meet all federal and state requirements for drinking water purity and be served in a container that holds at least six ounces. The Department of Consumer Protection may suspend, revoke, or refuse to grant or renew an alcoholic permit if the department has reasonable cause to believe the permittee has violated any portion of the bill's nonalcoholic drink requirements.

FARMERS' MARKET BEER SALES PERMIT

The bill creates a farmers' market beer sales permit that allows manufacturer permittees for beer, brewpubs, and beer and brewpubs, to sell beer they manufacture at up to three farmers' market locations a year for an unlimited number of appearances. The bill requires the DCP commissioner to issue such manufacturer permittees a farmers' market beer sales permit. The permit is valid for one year and requires a $250 annual fee, with a $100 nonrefundable filing fee.

In order to sell at a farmers' market, the permittee must (1) have an invitation from the farmers' market; (2) sell only sealed bottles of beer for off-premises consumption; and (3) be present, or have an authorized representative present, anytime beer is sold. The permittee may only sell up to five liters of beer per day to any one person.

Any town or municipality may, by ordinance or zoning regulation, prohibit a farmers' market beer sales permittee from selling beer at a farmers' market held in such town or municipality.

COMMENT

Holding Two Liquor Permits

The law generally prohibits holders of one class of permit from also holding another class of permit, unless they are specifically allowed by statute to do so (CGS 30-48(a)).

For example, the holder of a manufacturing class permit cannot also hold a retail class permit. Thus, the bill should specifically allow manufacturers of beer, brewpubs, and beer and brewpubs to also hold the farmers' market beer sales permit.

COMMITTEE ACTION

General Law Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

18

Nay

0

(03/12/2015)