Several business-friendly legislative proposals by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) will go into effect today. House bills (HB) 1796 and 2119, which seek to grow the Virginia spirits industry and improve ABC customer service, were both passed by the General Assembly earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Effective July 1, HB 1796 will allow any distillery to open a store in Virginia. The bill removes conditions and other restrictions that previously impeded a distillery from opening a store and selling its spirits on the licensed premises. A Senate bill (SB 1269) allows distilleries to offer tastings of beer, wine and spirits on their licensed premises if the products are produced there. ABC anticipates these changes in the law will help grow Virginia’s spirits industry and encourage sales and tourism.
A second Virginia ABC-sponsored bill (HB 2119) will allow the agency to better meet stakeholder expectations and improve customer service. Provisions in the bill include promoting the use of electronic communication with the agency’s various stakeholders. It also offers flexibility and other incentives to licensees, including the option of a multi-year license.
Other successful legislation that impacts ABC and its stakeholders include:
HB 1439 (Infusion): Allows the ABC Board to adopt regulations for the infusion of spirits in a container up to a maximum of 20 liters. It also allows for the creation of a new license for a mixed-beverage restaurant and caterer, advertisement of happy hour products and more. ABC has set up a regulatory process to implement changes in connection with this bill.
HB 1440 & SB 899 (Pricing): Allows products sold in Virginia ABC stores to have a price that ends in a nine (9).
HB 1634 (Farm Winery): Raises the alcohol by volume limit for farm wine from 18 to 21 percent.
HB 1645 (Bed & Breakfast): Allows the consumption of lawfully acquired alcoholic beverages by persons to whom overnight lodging is being provided in bedrooms or private guest rooms or other designated areas of the bed and breakfast establishment. This means guests are allowed to “BYOB” on the B&B premises.
HB 1908 & SB 1034 (Palcohol): Expands the definition of alcoholic beverages to include powdered or crystalline alcohol commonly referred to as “palcohol,” and bans the possession and sale of this product in Virginia.
SB 1165 (Higher Ed Winery): Allows the issuance of a license to an accredited institution of higher learning in Virginia to establish and operate a non-commercial farm winery for strictly educational purposes.
SB 1272 (Distillery Licenses): Creates a new license for distilleries that annually manufacture between 5,000 and 36,000 gallons of spirits in Virginia.
SB 1287 (Mixed Beverage License Extensions): Creates an additional mixed beverage license for certain facilities in Abingdon, Emory, St. Paul, Coeburn and multiple locations between Route 11 and Interstate 81 throughout the Shenandoah Valley without requiring a local referendum. It also allows for tastings to be held at a studio instructional session.
HB 1776 & SB 1032 (ABC Authority): Provides that Virginia ABC will become an authority with all subsequent requirements and stipulations in 2018.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 352 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. ABC is committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Legislation Proposed by Virginia ABC Takes Effect Today