Proposed Wisconsin alcohol legislation upsets wedding barn owners
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Republican state lawmakers held a public hearing at the capitol Tuesday over proposed legislation attempting to overhaul the state’s alcohol laws.
The changes would impact craft brewers, wineries, and distributors, who are speaking out in support. But there’s also opposition from wedding barn owners.
At Homestead Meadows, owner Steve Nagy has been hosting weddings in Outagamie County for more than 40 years, but says if a bill introduced last week by state Republicans becomes law, it would crush his business model. He was among the many to speak out during a committee hearing on the matter Tuesday afternoon in Madison.
“I’m telling you this bill has some great stuff in it, and I support some of it, but as it relates to wedding barns don’t support it and I think if you really look at it, you won’t either,” Steve Nagy said.
Nagy says the part of the bill he’s against requires wedding barn owners to obtain a Class B liquor license and if they don’t, they can only host six events a year, and no more than one per month.
Right now, it’s up to the wedding party to contract with an approved vendor to provide alcohol they pay to be on the site.
“Wedding barns don’t want to sell alcohol. We’re not looking to sell alcohol,” said Nagy. “What viable business can be in business six days a year and one day a month? That’s ridiculous […] If you do pass this, this is an extermination bill.”
Those supporting the legislation say it’s about better oversight.
“They serve, and they’re not serving with a licensed server. These are the wedding owners which, and I’m not calling anybody out, but I mean this is what happens and there is going to be an accident and somebody is going to get killed,” said Rep. Micheal Schraa, (R) Oshkosh.
Other provisions of the bill would create a special division in the Department of Revenue to better enforce laws, regarding alcohol sales and consumption. It would also allow craft brewers to sell their product without having a tap room, and wineries would be able to stay open as late as bars, leveling the playing field.
The governor has been involved in the negotiations, but hasn’t said publicly, whether it’s something he would sign into law, if it hits his desk.
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