Ohio Beer Legislation Update
Ohio Beer Counsel is monitoring two bills recently introduced in the Ohio General Assembly: HB 37 (which would permit open containers under limited circumstances); and, HB 68 (designed to increase the allowable alcohol content in beer from 12% to 21%). Here are the details:
HB 37 -- Introduced by State Reps Stinziano and Duffey
Current Ohio law prohibits open container possession of alcohol in any public place. HB 37 attempts to carve out an exception for those purchasing the beer or liquor on the premises of a market if the alcohol has been purchased from a D liquor permit holder (which generally allows sales of beer or liquor for on-premises consumption) that is located in a “market.”
The bill defines “market” as establishments that:
- Lease space in the market to vendors, not less than 50% of which are retail food establishments or food service operations;
- Have indoor sales floor not less than 22,000 square feet;
- Host a farmer’s market on each Saturday from April to December; and,
- Is owned by a political subdivision.
In other words, the exception carved out for this purpose is very limited. Think North Market in Columbus. The bill’s sponsors have specifically named North Market as the intended beneficiary of this new bill, but it could be broad enough to open the door to other similar markets. It has been referred to Committee for study.
HB 68 – Introduced by Representative Ramos and co-sponsored by Henne, Becker, Antonio, Retherford, Driehaus, Lepore-Hagan, Phillips, Blessing, Sheehy, Roegner, Reece, and Brenner
Very simply put, this bill seeks to “raise the proof” in beer from 12% to 21%. It also seeks to prohibit the addition of stimulants such as caffeine, guarana, ginseng, and taurine to beer containing more than 12% of alcohol by volume.