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 Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Officials warn residents about the dangers of thin ice on Mendenhall Lake

Experts outline what to do in the situation that someone falls through ice

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

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

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)


2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.


3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

Most Read