By Sean Hughes
The 2020 legislative session is already off to a fast start. The Connecticut Package Stores Association (CPSA) team in Hartford has been monitoring a number of bills in several committees, some of which do not typically propose legislation affecting the industry. While the list of bills to monitor continues to grow, I will highlight the most important proposals to watch so far for the alcohol beverage industry.
The first is Senate Bill 296, which created a study to review the minimum recycled glass content for glass wine and liquor bottles that are sold in New England states. The study would take a look into the feasibility of requiring a certain percentage of recycled glass to be used in the manufacture of all wine and liquor bottles sold in New England. There are obvious concerns in this bill, including the fact that a large percentage of wine and liquor bottles for sale are imported from all over the world.
The Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be the chairperson and person in charge of the study, and is responsible for submitting the final report from the study to the General Assembly.
Another bill of interest in the Environment Committee is House Bill 5340, which increases the type of containers included in the bottle bill, as well as the fee on those containers. It would increase the redemption on the bottles included from five to 10 cents when returned to a retailer or redemption center.
House Bill 5340 would also increase the handling fee for malt beverages from one to three cents, and increase the handling fee for water, soda juices, etc., from two to 3.5 cents. As it is currently written, the language in the bill does not include wine and liquor bottles. CPSA worked diligently last session to keep wine and liquor bottles out of the bottle bill, and has continued that effort this session.
One big issue this session has to do with the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association’s concern over last year’s big liquor bill, Senate Bill 647. The farm wineries held a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to address the provision in SB 647, which created a new type of wine manufacturer with all of the same rights and privileges as farm wineries without having to grow any grapes. They are concerned that this will open the door for larger, national wineries to come in and claim the title of a “Connecticut wine” and create an unfair marketplace.
While these remain the biggest issues to date, CPSA is always monitoring for developments affecting the industry within and outside of the legislative session. Our association in Connecticut is fighting every day for the rights of locally owned package stores across Connecticut. Support these efforts by joining CPSA today at CTPSA.com/join-cpsa/.