As Wisconsin’s legislative session winds down, there is an attempt to sneak extremely substantial last minute changes to the alcohol laws of Wisconsin through newly introduced senate bill 801. (Available for download here)- These changes include legislation that creates a new alcohol enforcement department headed by a “liquor tsar” with extensive power to create new regulations at will. You may recall the legislature previously tried to do this as a budget amendment, but a public outcry against it caused supporters to back down. Currently, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue handles alcohol law enforcement. There is no enforcement problem in Wisconsin, the problem is with excessive regulations, and this bill adds to that.
In the other part of this bill, rather than working with Wisconsin’s craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries to update and modernize regulations, lobbyists for the alcohol wholesalers have evidently cut a deal with the Kohler corporation that creates a special “Resort Manufacturer License” for which only Kohler qualifies. This license allows only Kohler to distill alcohol while still holding liquor licenses for their restaurants and bars – something illegal for everyone else in the state.
What can you do to help? The Wisconsin state senate is trying to push this through quickly to minimize the push back from citizens. Please contact your state senator ASAP, and let them know you support Wisconsin’s craft beverage producers (breweries, wineries and distilleries) and request they do not support Senate Bill 801. Wisconsin senators contact info is available here: Also, email Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office at and/or call him at (608) 266-5660. Finally, contact the members of the Senate economic development committee listed here:, and let them know you oppose Senate Bill 801.
Wisconsin’s home grown craft beverage producers of beer, wine and spirits thank you for your support!

3 Responses

  1. The argument for why allowing retail capability for a small (craft) manufacturer does not violate tied-house provisions is in part due to the lack of economic power in the marketplace. How does this new license not run up against the federal tied-house provisions?

  2. As a bar owner, I strongly support removal of regulations that prevent competition, not this crazy backroom favoritism the WI republican legislature shows in every market area. They’ve hobbled bars and created monopolies with the liquor regs that create excessive cost for retailers and only help large producers and our ‘overlords’, the wholesalers.

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