The Alaska Legislature is considering a bill that its supporters say will increase tourism and add jobs.
House Bill 309 proposes an amendment to the current Alaska statute on alcohol creation and sales. If passed, the bill would allow local distilleries to give tours, hold tastings, and keep inventory on site for direct sales.
In his sponsor statement, Representative Chris Tuck outlined the importance of Alaskan-made beer and spirits products and their impact on Alaska's economy by creating jobs, bringing the product directly to the customer, and stimulating a healthy atmosphere of competition with larger national beer and wine makers.
"This legislation will help us foster a more positive, personal relationship with our consumers that is more in line with what the "Alaska Dream" is all about", said Ursa Major Distillery owner Rob Borland in his support letter. "This legislation will put us on par with the existing brewery and winery statutes, and will substantially promote growth in our fledgling industry... which means growth in many other Alaskan industries such as agriculture and tourism."
Local farmers and farming groups have thrown in their support for the bill, noting the use of locally grown product by micro-breweries.
"The distillery industry is a growing in Alaska and is another use for Alaska’s agricultural crops," said Jane Hamilton, executive director of the Alaska Farm Bureau, in a support letter. "Agriculture benefits greatly from farm tours and providing samples of vegetables, berries and value added products to those who visit our farms and ranches. We can understand the desire and advantages of distilleries being able to serve samples of their products to potential customers visiting their distillery as well."
Other supporters of the bill range from local distillery owners to community commerce and tourism councils from all over the state.
The bill has advanced from the House Labor and Commerce Committee, and is awaiting review and debate on the House floor, along with the numerous support letters and news articles collected by Tuck as evidence of the benefits of the bill.