UBRA had a highly successful legislative session in early 2019. UBRA members and its lobbying team worked to pass the association's primary piece of legislation, HB1500, that raises the population permit cap.
We also worked to kill two bad bills that would have allowed high alcohol content beer to be sold in big box and grocery stores and a bill that would have allowed for the direct shipment of wine by out of state manufacturers.
Act 571 sponsored by Representative Doug House and Senator Keith Ingram raised the county population permit cap from 5,000 to 7,500 persons and shortened the time a permit may stay on inactive status from 18 months to 12 months. All existing retail liquor permits were grandfathered in.
The purpose of the bill was to limit the number of retail liquor permits over time, which in turn will increase the value of those stores choosing to stay in the business.
HB1774 would have allowed high alcohol content (exceeding 5%) beer to be sold in big box and grocery stores. UBRA legislative chair, John Crow, testified against the bill in Rules committee. The bill did not advance.
HB1819 would allow direct shipment of wine into Arkansas by out of state manufacturers. The bill did not advance out of House Rules committee. UBRA president John Akins testified against the bill.
SB348/Act661 Established a hard cider manufacturing permit and allows hard cider to be sold on premise at the manufacturing facility. Under the Wine In Grocery Store law, hard cider was already sold in big box and grocery stores. This law created a new manufacturing permit and clarified where cider could be sold.
HB1385 Sponsored by Representative Mayberry defines what a schoolhouse is for retail setback purposes. It adds licensed day care facilities to list of criteria (schools, churches, day cares). The bill explicitly states that a home school is not a criteria for set back purposes. HB1385 passed on the last day of the session and is expected to be signed into law.
HB1852/Act 681 Sponsored by Representative Hawks, this bill will allow a microbrewery to operate in a dry county as a private club with approval from the local governing body.
SB265 Dubbed the “Barling bill” this legislation would have allowed a city in a dry county to vote to go wet even after the county had voted to be dry. The bill was withdrawn after UBRA members raised concerns.
HB1760 was another bill that would have liberalized the wet/dry law. Representative Cavanaugh’s bill would have allowed a local governing body to call a wet/dry election in a dry county. It allowed for bypassing the 38% signature gathering requirement. The bill died in House committee.