WWI 2024 Legislative Session Preview

The Washington Wine Institute (WWI) is preparing for the legislative session beginning January 2024, paying close attention to current pain-points and issues that Washington wineries are facing.

.05 BAC Bill: A bill to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving from .08 to .05 (SB 5002) was introduced during the 2023 legislative session and died in the Senate, however, we expect a .05 BAC bill to be considered during the 2024 session. We are currently working with the Washington Hospitality Association and Brewers Guild to create messaging around this bill and the harms it could cause to the wine, beer and other hospitality industries. We need the support of Washington wineries and are asking for your membership to help ensure all of our voices are heard in advocating for the industry and focus on creative solutions to address drunk driving in a way that would not harm hospitality businesses around the state. We also ask for our members’ continued support and appreciate their input on this bill and its potential impacts to small businesses during the 2024 legislative session.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Known in Olympia as the WRAP Act, this legislation would require all businesses that sell (almost) anything in Washington State to be responsible for the end-use of their packaging material used. For WA wineries, the focus is on what happens to our glass and to a lesser extent cardboard.

If our state is going to overhaul our entire waste system and ask all industries to pay for these massive changes, we need a system proven to work vs. one created for us by Ecology. WWI is focused on an approach similar to Oregon’s current bottle deposit program tailored to work for Washington State. Ideally, a system that aligns with both CA and OR’s approaches so any cost and labeling needs do not require changes just for WA.

California Bottle Bill education: A change in wine bottle labeling requirements is impacting wineries that sell wine to California, starting July 1, 2025. The California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act, known as the California bottle bill, adds wine bottles to the Beverage Container Recycling Program, requiring recycle value messaging and some sort of state identification on labels. This means that a Washington State winery that ships any amount of wine to California, whether it be wholesale or through wine club/online wine shop/similar DTC, must comply with the new California bottle bill law when the requirements go into effect. WWI is paying close attention to these upcoming changes to help Washington wineries feel prepared throughout this process as the program is quickly approaching with a start date of January 1, 2024, though the deadline for updated labels is July 1, 2025. WWI will continue to share any educational resources with members and feature any relevant speakers on this topic during our 2024 Annual Membership Meeting.

Outdoor seating modernization/MAST 13 Permit Allowances: WWI is actively engaged in rulemaking to recommend updates to outdoor seating allowances for wineries after SB 5448 was signed into law following the 2023 legislative session. These recommendations to the LCB are part of the larger rulemaking effort to implement SB 5448, focus on changes to WAC 314-03-205 that currently allows on-premise licensees to have access to demarcations instead of permanent barriers if seating is located in a public space. Recommendations include:

Рimprovements and changes to the rules that will ensure all on premise licensees are clearly authorized to utilize modern, barrier-free outdoor alcohol service 

– simplification of rules to allow both privately and publicly owned spaces the use of demarcations instead of permanent barriers

The other part of this rulemaking involves incorporating new MAST 13 permit holders (18-20 year olds) allowances temporarily provided by the LCB during COVID-era operations, specifically in regards to allowing these employees to pre pour flights and glasses of wine away from the table. Many WWI members encouraged us to pursue a permanent solution, and we are happyto report the LCB is actively working with us on this solution. If successful, these new allowances will be in place in early 2024. Stay tuned!

We will continue to keep WWI members informed on the work being done in regard to these issues and opportunities to provide feedback. A huge thanks to all of our members for their ongoing support. We look forward to hearing from you in preparation for the 2024 legislative session and encourage any Washington wineries that would like their voice heard to sign up for WWI membership and add to our unified industry voice and strength in Olympia.