Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seated, speaks with senators during a floor debate on a bill to revamp the state’s alcohol laws on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. The bill was one of Micciche’s own, and Tuesday’s floor vote came after nine years of trying to pass a bill modernizing Alaska’s alcohol regulation. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seated, speaks with senators during a floor debate on a bill to revamp the state’s alcohol laws on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. The bill was one of Micciche’s own, and Tuesday’s floor vote came after nine years of trying to pass a bill modernizing Alaska’s alcohol regulation. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Bill aimed at refining state alcohol laws passes Senate

Years in the making, bill modernizes regulations advocates say

A bill overhauling Alaska’s alcohol laws passed out of the Senate Tuesday, heading to the House of Representatives where further amendments are expected.

Senate Bill 9 is the result of nine years of effort by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, the current Senate President. According to the bill’s advocates, SB 9 is an attempt to modernize the state’s regulations in a way that balances expansion of the alcohol industry while safeguarding protections for public health and substance misuse.

Because the Senate President cannot speak to legislation on the floor, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, carried the bill telling his colleagues SB 9 was a simple reorganizing and reordering of the state’s alcohol laws.

“This legislation is not a special interest bill, it’s a long effort from many stakeholders,” Stevens said. “This bill modernizes (state alcohol laws) without harming existing businesses.”

The bill creates new license types for businesses that sell alcohol such as breweries and wineries and extends the activities those businesses can engage in. Tasting rooms at alcohol manufacturing business could, if the bill passes, stay open two hours later, closing at 10 p.m. and can hold classes or fundraising events.

The bill limits manufacturer licenses to one per 12,000 people but gives municipalities the option to petition the Alcohol Beverage Control Board for additional licenses.

[‘Work, actual work’ is underway in the state Senate]

The bill also allows for permits to be issued, allowing catering companies to serve alcohol at a certain time and place.

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, offered an amendment that would lower that threshold to 7,500 people. Juneau and other larger municipalities would already be over the limit set forth in the bill were it to pass, Kiehl said on the floor. Juneau has a population of just over 32,000, according to state data, but is home to multiple breweries and a distillery.

“To go further than the status quo, to be more restrictive to the existing law, doesn’t make sense,” Kiehl said.

Kiehl withdrew his amendment, with a request that his amendment be taken up in the House.

Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, also objected to the population requirements, saying that within his districts there weren’t any villages with more than 4,000 people.

Olson said he wanted to make sure, “the next person out there that has a good idea is not inhibited by the regulation that you have 12,000 people.”

All 18 senators present Tuesday voted in favor of the bill. Sens. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, were excused.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, Micciche said the bill brought Alaska’s alcohol laws more in line with how the industry operates today.

Organizations that submitted letters of support for the bill include Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association; Brewers Guild of Alaska; Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and the Alaska Peace Officers Association.

“We know that (the bill) is designed to protect Alaskans from the adverse effects of alcohol,” Micciche said. It’s an extremely important segment of our economy and it continues to grow with tourism.”

The Senate President said over the years he’s worked with representatives from the alcohol industry, public safety and substance abuse and recovery experts to draft the bill.

“It’s not a special interest bill,” Micciche said. “It’s an everyone interest bill.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for t​​he Week of April 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Hubbard, the newest vessel in the Alaska Marine Highway System fleet, docks at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on April 18. It is generally scheduled to provide dayboat service between Juneau, Haines and Skagway. (Photo by Laurie Craig)
Ongoing Alaska Marine Highway woes are such that marketing to Lower 48 tourists is being scaled back

“We just disappoint people right now,” AMHS’ marine director says during online public forum Monday.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Senate considers plan that would allow teens to independently seek mental health care

Amendment by Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, would lower the age for behavioral health care to 16

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 28, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
House approves tougher route for environmental protections on Alaska rivers, lakes

HB95 would require lawmakers approve any “Tier III” labeling, the highest level of federal protection.

Rep. Andi Story (left, wearing gray), Rep. Sara Hannan (center, wearing purple) and Sen. Jesse Kiehl (wearing suit) talk with constituents following a legislative town hall on Thursday at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
All three members of Juneau’s legislative delegation seeking reelection

Reps. Andi Story and Sara Hannan, and Sen. Jesse Kiehl unopposed ahead of June 1 filing deadline

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The “Newtok Mothers” assembled as a panel at the Arctic Encounter Symposium on April 11 discuss the progress and challenges as village residents move from the eroding and thawing old site to a new village site called Mertarvik. Photographs showing deteriorating conditions in Newtok are displayed on a screen as the women speak at the event, held at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Relocation of eroding Alaska Native village seen as a test case for other threatened communities

Newtok-to-Mertarvik transformation has been decades in the making.

Bailey Woolfstead, right, and her companion Garrett Dunbar examine the selection of ceramic and wood dishes on display at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on behalf of the Glory Hall at Centennial Hall on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empty Bowls provides a full helping of fundraising for the Glory Hall

Annual soup event returns to Centennial Hall as need for homeless shelter’s services keeps growing.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and her husband Greg. (Photo courtesy of the City and Borough of Juneau)
Greg Weldon, husband of Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon, killed in motorcycle accident Sunday morning

Accident occurred in Arizona while auto parts store co-owner was on road trip with friend

Most Read