JUNEAU- Tuesday, the Alaska Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 9 modernizing laws governing Alaska’s alcohol industry. The total Title 4 rewrite bill allows the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regulate the alcoholic beverage industry in a manner that promotes public safety and health while supporting the industry’s continued growth and economic viability.
“Although Alaskans focus on opioids and other drugs, alcohol remains the number one most abused substance in Alaska. However, it is also a very important industry for those with a healthy relationship with alcohol,” said Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, who sponsored SB 9. “This bill is not a special interest bill, but is an every interest bill with input and support from legislators, public health and safety, the alcohol industry, municipalities and the tourism industry. As a great example for the legislature, factions that started this process 180 degrees out from each other worked diligently for years to get to this point and have repeatedly provided formal support, on the record.”
SB 9 is the product of a nine-year, unprecedented collaboration of more than 100 stakeholders from a diverse group of representatives from the alcohol industry, public health and safety, local governments, and advocates for youth. The legislation is based on more than 16,000 hours of stakeholder meetings and legislative time that established many shared goals including:
- Promoting a fair business climate and protecting public health and safety.
- Creating rational regulation for all 3 tiers of the state’s alcohol industry.
- Limiting youth access to alcohol, promoting responsible alcohol use and reducing overconsumption.
- Implementing without negative impacts on businesses and responsible operators.
- Innovative fit-for-purpose licensure to match today’s alcohol operations: restructuring and reorganizing the licensing system to include clearly defined categories of licenses, permits, and a new concept of endorsements
- First of its kind, creative expansion of the rights of municipalities to petition for additional licenses within their boundaries.
Senate Bill 9 also modernizes and reorganizes the 40-year-old hodge-podge of Alaska’s alcohol laws into a comprehensive and effective set of statutes. The bill retains the three-tier licensing system but creates more flexibility for small manufacturers and creates a new endorsement system to expand the boundaries of licensed businesses and accommodate special events. A more effective penalty structure is included to ensure greater compliance with Title 4.
“SB 9 updates antiquated, burdensome alcohol laws with a common-sense rewrite that supports Alaska’s ever-changing alcohol, tourism and restaurant industries, while remaining focused on supporting those that struggle with the adverse effects of alcohol,” said Senator Micciche. “This reset of Title 4, Alaska’s alcohol statutes, will more closely align with how the alcohol industry operates today. However, make no mistake, this bill is about the free market. It is over 100 pages with the lion share related to cutting bureaucratic red tape in support of public safety, competition, and success for all concerned with the alcohol industry in Alaska.