MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is planning to file a challenge to Wisconsin’s newly-passed liquor law that overhauls state regulations. The conservative legal group is working with wedding barn owners on the lawsuit.
WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber told WTMJ he believes wedding barns are unfairly targeted by the new law.
“What this bill does is it makes that particular party now unlawful. You need to get a license from the state in order for those barns to operate going forward,” Vedder said. “It’s the first time they’ve been required to get a license from the state. The practical reality of what will happen now is that many of these barns are going to shut down.”
The law defines private event spaces as public places, bringing them under the liquor law requirement, although there is a two year grace period before the license is required. There is an opportunity to get a “no-sale event permit” instead of a license, but the barns then cannot sell alcohol and are limited to six total events per year.
Vebber said he doesn’t believe this is something that government should be involved in in the first place.
“There’s no real problem here that’s being solved,” he said.
In addition, what Vebber calls the “broad wording” of the liquor law could make other types of parties illegal, including a simple gathering at a vacation rental home. Rentals are also now covered under this definition of public spaces.
Vebber said there is one rather amusing way to get an exemption.
“If there are enough beds for every adult guest to sleep, that’s how it’s worded,” he said. “So essentially if you rent a cottage up north and you want to have friends over for dinner and you plan to serve a bottle of wine, you better count how many beds you have because you could be violating state law. It’s silly.”
Vebber said that WILL is still working with a number of wedding barn owners and couldn’t get into specifics about the argument they will put forth in court, but he does believe there is a simple reason the liquor law was passed in its current form.
“This is just all about eliminating competition. That’s what the bill’s always been about.”
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