Key GOP legislator says proposal to crack down on tap rooms is d - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Key GOP legislator says proposal to crack down on tap rooms is dead

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A key Republican legislator says local craft breweries, distilleries and wineries can breathe easy, because a controversial proposal that could prevent them from serving their products directly to customers will not be part of the final state budget.

Next Door Brewing Co. is one of several area businesses that sells and serves alcoholic products at the same site it produces them.
    
Next Door Brewer Bryan Kreiter was worried when an anonymous memo was circulating at the Capitol earlier this year, that proposed creating an Office of Alcohol Beverage Enforcement.

According to that memo, the new office would be set up to crack down on enforcement of the state's three-tier liquor industry, taking regulatory control away from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

While no organization has claimed responsibility for the proposal, small alcohol producers feared it came from the Tavern League of Wisconsin or the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association in an attempt to stifle competition from tap rooms like the one Next Door operates at its Atwood Avenue location.

Americans for Prosperity of Wisconsin - a conservative lobbying group - immediately looked to publicize and condemn the proposal as an attack on free enterprise, warning it could be slipped into the budget at the last minute through something known as a 999 motion.

That prompted blow back from small brewers, distillers, and winemakers who organized to make their voices heard.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) told 27 News Tuesday, there is no appetite among Republicans who sit on the Joint Finance Committee to create an agency that kills entrepreneurship.

"I think it's very unlikely, in fact, I know it's not gonna happen that there will be changes of those nature in the budget," said Rep. Kooyenga. "I really have to credit the wineries and the distilleries and the breweries, because what they've done is they got organized and they got their voice heard. And they did it - not by hiring a bunch of lobbyists - they did it by contacting legislators and having their customers contact legislators."

Kreiter is just happy to hear all of that effort paid off.

"I think the way that we're approaching our lawmakers is more professional, perhaps than in the past, and more organized," said Kreiter.

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