MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin lawmakers on Thursday passed a closely watched bill that would make crucial changes to how home-brew enthusiasts around the state share their suds.
Both houses passed the bill on the last day they could take up the issue before they adjourned the legislative session for the year. It now heads to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
The bill would allow brewers to make and share their beer and wine outside the home. As with current law, they cannot sell any beverage they make.
The bill was introduced after state officials realized last year that current state law prohibits home brewers from transporting any beer or wine they make. The law’s language has been ignored for decades, as homemade brewers say they didn’t know about the transport ban.
It technically makes tasting events and competitions illegal, a fact that’s thrown a wrench for event organizers. Some home-brewing groups have postponed annual events until the law is changed.
Home-brew groups around the state have said the current law is archaic and hurts their beloved hobby.
The bill would also exempt home brewers from permit requirements and taxes. They’re limited in how much they can brew every year, which would be 100 gallons for one person in a household or 200 gallons for two people in a household.
The bill gained early support from most lawmakers, but it hit a roadblock after several groups like the Tavern League of Wisconsin criticized its broad language. They said the bill ignored state regulations on alcohol distribution.
As a result, several amendments were added to the original bill on Thursday, including clarification that a state municipality can regulate a tasting event or competition.
Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, who helped introduce the bill, reiterated on the Assembly floor that the legislation is common sense.
The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Thursday.
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