Sen. Peter Micciche’s efforts to modernize how Alaska regulates alcohol were formally considered on Monday.
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Micciche, R-Kenai/Soldotna, has been nine years in the making and would overhaul Title 4 of Alaska State Statute, which is the section of state law that addresses alcoholic beverages. The bill was heard before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday morning.
In all, Micciche estimates that more than 120 stakeholders and staff have put more than 16,000 hours of work into the creation of the bill, which was first introduced in 2012.
Micciche said that while not every individual bar owner, brewer and public safety official supports the legislation, many of the organizations that represent them do, including the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR), the Brewers Guild of Alaska, Recover Alaska, the Alaska State Troopers and the Public Safety Employees Association.
“At this time of COVID recovery, this is very important for the industry,” Micciche said. “Although alcohol is … the number one substance abuse problem in our state, it’s also a very important industry. [We’ve] struck a balance that improves the public safety aspect, yet provides some tools for the industry to be successful as well.”
Among the priorities identified by stakeholders that are reflected in the legislation are alcohol licensing, the role and function of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board and youth access to alcohol, Anna Brawley, Agnew Beck Consulting Title Review coordinator, said during a presentation to the committee Monday.
Micciche said Monday that Brawley has been working stakeholders on the legislation for years.
Specifically, the legislation proposes more retail options for alcohol manufacturers, adding endorsements to existing licenses, limiting free samples for package stores, a seasonal restaurant license, more collaboration between the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and regulation of internet alcohol sales.
Alaska is currently one of the only states with no rules for the internet sales of alcohol. Brawley said that makes it difficult to know how much alcohol is coming into the state via internet sales, which jumped over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People in Alaska who order alcohol online also do not pay state excise tax on online purchases, but do pay it on other products sold and purchased in the state.
The final legislation will ultimately need to pass in the Alaska House of Representatives and in the Alaska Senate before it can become law.
The full Senate Finance Committee meeting can be viewed at akleg.gov.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.