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Baird Holm Lobby Efforts Lead to Legislative Victory for Nebraska Alcohol Producers 

on Friday, 21 April 2023 in Environmental Pulse: Vanessa A. Silke, Editor

LB 376 enacts key benefits for craft breweries and microdistilleries. Vanessa Silke and Hannes Zetzsche helped usher the bill into law.

Under the first bill adopted in 2023 by the Nebraska Legislature, and the first bill signed into law by Governor Jim Pillen, a group of measures largely benefitting the alcohol industry’s small producers have gone into immediate effect. LB376 was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support, and no opposition. This is a particularly important feat given ongoing conflicts and filibuster efforts in this year’s first-of-its-kind Legislative session. Baird Holm attorneys have developed strong relationships with legislators and key stakeholders to ensure passage of common-sense legislation to grow the craft beer and microdistillery markets.

Key provisions of LB376 (linked here) include:

Self-Distribution Rights for Microdistilleries: Nebraska-licensed microdistilleries, for the first time, have the right to sell up to 500 gallons of their products per year directly to licensed retailers. This is a significant step in expanding market access for small producers. Prior to LB376, microdistilleries could only reach the other retailers by engaging a licensed distributor. This meant that if a distributor declined to serve a microdistillery, that microdistillery was barred from all retail markets off its licensed premises. This provision of LB376 is yet another a win for microdistilleries and consumers throughout Nebraska, and follows last year’s passage of game-changing measures for canned cocktails and increased production capacity. Baird Holm is proud to represent the largest microdistilleries in the state.

Increased Rights for the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild: LB376 also doubles the number of Special Designated Licenses (“SDLs”) the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild, and all other non-profit entities, may obtain for fundraising events each year. SDLs are limited for non-profit entities by statute, and the increase from six to twelve provided by LB376 will bolster the Guild’s efforts to grow and support the craft beer industry in Nebraska.  Baird Holm is proud to represent the Guild and the craft beer industry.  

Other Industry Wins: In addition, LB376 allows farm wineries to obtain retail licenses.  This is a long-awaited change, which enables farm wineries to permanently expand the types of alcoholic beverages they offer for sale on their licensed premises. Other measures requested by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, and supported by Baird Holm clients, include brand registration authority, and channel pricing and sponsorship clarification.  Each of these measures benefits the highly-regulated alcohol industry, and will facilitate better outcomes for producers, retailers, and consumers.

Attorneys at Baird Holm LLP specialize in liquor law, and both Vanessa Silke and Hannes Zetzsche are registered lobbyists. Please contact them if you have questions about LB376 or lobbying efforts.

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