Two pieces of legislation proposed by Virginia ABC become effective January 15, 2018: House bill (HB) 2359 and Senate bill (SB) 1287. Changes provided in the legislation enables Virginia ABC to meet the intent of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority Act of 2015 by allowing the authority greater freedom to operate. The authority will seek to function more like a business by achieving efficiency in its operations in all arenas, particularly as it relates to the hearings, human resources and procurement functions.
HB 2359. This law changes the effective date for creation of the authority to January 15, 2018, and creates a transition period ending December 31, 2018, in order to facilitate an orderly and efficient transition and ensure the continuation of operations during the transition. The current Virginia ABC board will be three of the five members of the directors of the authority. Additionally, the law grants the ABC authority the ability to implement and maintain independent payroll and non-payroll disbursement systems and streamline the suspension and revocation process. It also exempts the authority from mandatory procurement provisions and authorizes the board of directors to delegate or assign to any officer or employee of the authority any duties or tasks required to be performed by the authority. Finally, the law permits employees in the Traditional Sick Leave plan to convert to the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP) and be immediately eligible for benefits under VSDP.
SB 1287. In addition to the stipulations captured in HB 2359, SB 1287 was modified by the legislature to include changes in Workforce Transition Act (WTA) eligibility for Virginia ABC employees by limiting eligibility to employees who are not offered a position with the authority, are offered a position for which the employee is not qualified or are offered a position that would require relocation or a reduction in salary.
Other legislation effective July 1, 2017, that impacts Virginia ABC and its stakeholders includes:
ABC Workforce Transition Act
HB 2247. This law changes Workforce Transition Act eligibility for Virginia ABC employees by limiting eligibility to employees who are not offered a position with the authority, are offered a position for which the employee is not qualified or are offered a position that would require relocation or a reduction in salary. This law clarifies that authority employees will be eligible for WTA if terminated without cause.
Central Office and Warehouse
HB 1500. As part of the final budget, Virginia ABC is to work with the Department of General Services to perform detailed planning for a new central office and warehouse location. A report is due to the General Assembly in November 2017.
Distillery Remote Privileges
HB 2029 & SB 1448. This law lets distillery stores participate in events or festivals throughout the state conducted for the purpose of featuring and educating the consuming public about spirits products without having to obtain a banquet license.
HB 1744 & SB 1469. The law permits the sale of beer in cans at licensed stadiums, amphitheaters exhibition halls and convention centers.
Virginia Cider Definition
HB 2433. This law adds the clarification that cider shall be treated as wine for all purposes of alcoholic beverage control law including the sale of cider in Virginia ABC retail stores.
HB 1842. This law raises the maximum proof of neutral grain spirits that may be sold through Virginia ABC retail stores without a permit. The previous limit was 101 proof. The new limit is 151 proof.
Bar Bystander Training
SB 1150. This law requires Virginia ABC to provide training for all retail licensees and employees who sell or serve alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption on how to recognize situations that may lead to sexual assault and utilize intervention strategies. This training is meant to help prevent situations from culminating in sexual assault.
SB 1578. This law requires individuals operating short-term rentals who wish to offer alcoholic beverages to their guests to obtain a bed and breakfast license.
Additional Mixed Beverage Licenses
HB 1987 & SB 1391. These laws create a new commercial lifestyle center license for mixed use commercial developments. They authorize consumption throughout the premises of the development, including plazas, seating areas, concourses, walkways and such other similar areas. It also includes non-retail licensee tenant premises, upon approval of such tenant. It excludes any parking areas.
HB 1926. This law creates a new municipal golf course license for the Holston Hills Community Golf Course in Marion, VA and waives any applicable monthly food sales requirements for the months when the weather reduces patronage.
Additional Wine and Beer Licenses
HB 1743. This law creates a new historic cinema house license which authorizes the licensee to sell wine and beer for on-premise consumption, either with or without meals, during any showing of a motion picture to patrons to whom alcoholic beverages may lawfully be sold.
SB 1587. This law adds Alleghany County to the list of permissible localities who may qualify for a retail on-premise beer and wine amphitheater license.
SB 1382. This law streamlines the alcoholic beverage license and delivery process by allowing Virginia ABC to issue an alcoholic beverage license to the establishment when the applicant provides proof of a pending food establishment license or health permit. The licensee may not sell alcoholic beverages until the food establishment license or health permit has been issued.
Retailer Delivery to Vehicles
HB 1801. This law permits off-premise wine and beer licensees to deliver closed containers of alcoholic beverages to a customer’s vehicle when: 1) that vehicle is parked in a designated space and 2) the online order of that wine or beer was placed in advance of the delivery.
HB 1694. This law expands the banquet license privilege to permit licensees who are nonprofit corporations or associations to sell closed containers of wine as part of any fundraising activity to persons whom wine may be lawfully sold for off-premise consumption.
SB 1216. This law clarifies that all mixed beverage licensees are required to have food, cooked or prepared on the licensed premises, available for on-premises consumption in all areas of the licensed premises in which spirits are sold or served until at least 30 minutes prior to an establishment’s closing.