Omnibus liquor bill approved

A bill that makes a variety of changes to the state’s Liquor Control Act passed April 12.

LB1105, introduced by O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, establishes the Nebraska Craft Brewery Board. The board will include seven governor-appointed members who have been involved in the beer industry.

The bill also creates the Nebraska Beer Industry Promotional Fund to advance, market and promote the beer brewing process in Nebraska and the agricultural products grown and produced in the state for use in the beer industry. The fund will consist of money credited from beer manufacturer shipping licenses and a $250 annual fee for craft brewery licensees.

In addition, the bill makes the following changes to the Liquor Control Act:
• removes the requirement that a club must have a kitchen;
• harmonizes the excise tax rate and makes the statute applicable to wholesale and manufacturing licensees, not just retail licensees;
• removes the prohibition on “other fruit product nor any artificial product which imparts a fruit flavor other than apple” in the hard cider definition;
• establishes a liquor license class for small boutiques to sell a limited amount of alcohol;
• eliminates the requirement that a licensee must reapply for a license if the licensee’s location is annexed by an adjacent municipality;
• increases the penalty for the illegal manufacturing of spirits;
• repeals the prohibition on pull tab or pull tops on soda and beer cans;
• clarifies that a craft brewery licensee, who has held the license for a minimum of three years and operates a brewpub or microbrewery, must obtain a manufacturer’s license once the licensee exceeds 20,000 barrels; and
• allows an employee who is at least 16 years old to ring up tickets that include alcohol purchases as long as the employee does not handle alcohol.

The bill incorporated provisions of two additional bills.

LB748, originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom, allows an individual to import alcohol—up to 108 liters per calendar year—for personal use from a holder of a retail direct sales shipping license or its equivalent.

LB1046, originally introduced by Crete Sen. Laura Ebke, allows a Nebraska resident who is legally able to work in the state to be eligible for a liquor license regardless of U.S. citizenship.

The bill passed on a vote of 45-2.

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