Omnibus liquor law bill passed

Lawmakers approved a number of changes to Nebraska liquor laws May 20.

Sen. John Lowe
Sen. John Lowe

LB274, introduced by Sen. John Lowe of Kearney, creates a new promotional farmers market special designated license. Under the bill, farm wineries, craft breweries and microdistilleries that currently are licensed to manufacture alcoholic beverages may apply for the SDL, which allows sales at any farmers market for one year, subject to local approval.

Previously, such entities were required to apply for an SDL for each event at which they sold alcohol.

LB274 also increases the maximum number of gallons that a Nebraska microdistillery may produce annually from 10,000 to 100,000.

The bill includes provisions of LB578, introduced by Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas, which authorizes ready-to-drink cocktails as a new category of alcoholic beverage — defined as spirits in an original container with up to 12.5 percent alcohol — and sets the excise tax at 95 cents a gallon.

Also included are provisions of LB72, sponsored by Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, which allow the holder of a Class C, I or Y liquor license to sell alcohol not in the original package — such as a mixed drink, cocktail or wine slushy — for consumption off premises.

The holder of a Class B, C, D, L, Y or Z retail liquor license may sell alcohol to an individual 21 or older who is in a motor vehicle if the alcohol is sold along with food. Alcohol must be placed in the vehicle’s trunk or in an area behind the last upright seat.

Senators passed LB274 on a 45-0 vote. It takes effect immediately.

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