Brown measure to streamline permits for charity wine auctions clears House committee

Today the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming endorsed Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to create a special permit to sell wine through an auction and allow wine tastings at auctions.

“Currently the state Liquor and Cannabis Board must cobble together all the permits that are required for each winery participating in a charitable wine auction,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “This requires hours of work on the part of the LCB. My bill would streamline the process, so the permits can be completed in several days instead of several months.”

Under Substitute Senate Bill 5560, the LCB would be authorized to issue a special permit allowing a nonprofit organization to sell wine through a private auction. The permit holder could conduct wine tastings at the auction, as long as the wine offered for tasting is the same as that being auctioned. The bill would also authorize the permit holder to sell wine sourced from multiple wineries, so long as each winery is identified on the permit application.

Josh McDonald, executive director of the Washington Wine Institute, supports the measure, which he says would provide a vital tool for charities in the Tri-Cities and across the state.

“Without this special permit, charity auctions have to go to each winery and have them individually apply for a permit – a process that can take many months. Under Senator Brown’s bill, the charity would hold the permit, and be able to complete it quickly. It’s an excellent way to streamline the process from the small business side and the LCB side. It’s a true win-win.

“In addition, the money goes to great causes. Three million dollars last year alone went to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. [Wine auctions] also provided a lot of money for the WSU Viticulture and Enology program in Richland, which is helping to train our next generation of grape growers and wine makers,” McDonald added.

“This is a wonderful bill, and we are glad that Senator Brown has been a champion for it.”

SB 5560 passed the Senate on Feb. 27 with broad bipartisan support, 48-1.