Hughes said Monday in a phone interview that no opposition emerged to the bill as it made its way through the Ohio General Assembly. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law April 29 by Gov. John Kasich.
Existing restrictions and safeguards in the tasting laws, including limits to the amount of wine, beer and spirits served at a tasting, will protect against abuse of the new law, Hughes said. The Columbus legislator said the Ohio Grocers Association, the Ohio Spirits Association and the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association proposed and supported the proposal.
“The changes that we are seeking are to ensure that the state is able to responsibly generate revenue for job creation in Ohio — spirituous liquor profits are transferred to JobsOhio,” Jacob Evans, general counsel to the Ohio Spirits Association, said in testimony before the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee. “Tastings are essential to the successful sale of this product as it gives consumers the opportunity to try many of the brand or line extensions or products they may not be familiar.”
Joe Ewig, director of governmental relations for the Ohio Grocers Association, said the changes will boost sales, generate greater foot traffic in grocery stores and put more money in state coffers.
Beth Freyvogel, who manages Arrow Wine & Spirits’ Washington Twp. store, said Monday she is studying the law’s details to determine how her store will be affected, and is interested in expanding Arrow’s spirits tastings. Kroger Co. spokeswoman Rachael Betzler said company officials haven’t yet had a chance to review the new law.
Consumers shouldn’t assume all wine or beer samples will be free starting in July. Many wine tastings held in the region’s retail shops are hosted by representatives of wine distributors that act as wholesalers in Ohio’s alcohol system, and distributors are excluded from the new law, reinforcing the line of separation between wholesaler and retailer.
The Ohio Legislative Service Commission said the law will likely result in increases in sales tax revenue that goes to individual counties as well as to the state. Revenues from additional liquor-license applications also will benefit JobsOhio statewide economic development effort and the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control, LSC officials said in a fiscal analysis of the bill.