DES MOINES - Last week, Governor Terry Branstad signed House File 617 into law. The bill allows gas stations and convenience stores to sell spirits without previous restrictions such as a separate room and cash register. License fees will vary from $3,500 to $7,500 depending on population, location and square footage.
The role of the legislature and governor is to make decisions regarding public policy for the state. The Iowa ABD helps both legislators and stakeholders draft language to ensure the legislation is aligned with the desired outcome. However, the primary responsibility of the Iowa ABD in the legislative process is to provide credible information regarding the fiscal impact of legislation through the fiscal note process.
Currently, 54 Iowa convenience stores sell spirits with premises restrictions. The Iowa ABD estimates, over the next two years, 200 additional convenience stores will obtain liquor licenses. The new stores could generate up to $2.5 million annually in additional revenue for the State.
Numerous other amendments were added to HF 617 by Iowa lawmakers as the bill moved through the legislative committee process. The final version modifies the definition of high alcohol content beer to prohibit the addition of caffeine and other stimulants, effectively banning high-proof alcoholic energy drinks in Iowa.
Previously, only one member of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission was allowed to be a member of the alcohol industry. This bill allows the Governor to appoint up to two industry members to the five-person commission. The revised legislation also authorizes alternating proprietorship for native wineries.
The bill passed the House with no debate and passed in the Senate by a wide margin with bipartisan approval. The ban on high-proof alcoholic energy drinks is effective immediately; the other provisions will take effect on July 1, 2011.