Rep. Bill Jenkin: Continuing to keep our district the heart of Washington wine country through sound public policy
My goal, each and every session, is to ensure the policies we pass in the Legislature have a positive impact on our district. We know that some policies are more of a fight than others, and don't always end up the way we'd like them to. But, there are also policies that will help our district thrive and be successful.
Wine continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in Washington state. It is a major economic contributor to our communities and region. It fosters small business growth, enhances tourism, and supports thousands of jobs.
Our district is the heart of Washington wine country. From the larger wineries, to the small family businesses, the policies we ultimately pass have an impact to our way of life.
Last session, I passed a bill coupling my passion for our wine industry with the opportunity to help grow our next generation of world-class winemakers and growers.
Winemaking is becoming a popular educational area of interest. In our own backyard, Washington State University's Richland campus is home to the largest research winery in the Pacific Northwest.
An important challenge was brought to my attention. There is an inability for most students, those aged 18-20, to taste wine in the classroom as a component of their education. They are also not allowed to work in any wine production areas. If a student cannot taste the product as part of the learning environment, they cannot gain the full value of choosing viticulture or enology as a major course of study.
My House Bill 1563 solved this particular challenge by allowing colleges and technical schools to receive a Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) special permit allowing the tasting of alcohol by underage students enrolled in a specified program.
This year, another good bill was introduced to help the smaller wineries throughout our district.
Senate Bill 6392, co-sponsored by my seatmate Sen. Maureen Walsh, establishes the local wine industry association license. This would authorize eligible entities to receive purchased or donated wine for promotional or marketing purposes from domestic and certain out-of-state wineries.
The license may be issued to a nonprofit society or an organization created with the express purpose of educating consumers, or promoting the economic development of, the Washington wine industry.
The bill will provide local wine associations with a new, modern license to put on events and marketing programs to promote their wine. These events bring tourists and economic growth into rural communities, all while supporting local businesses.
The bill will help support wineries in the state by helping Washington state's nearly one thousand wineries create direct-to-consumer sales.
This bill is a definite win-win for our district, and for our small businesses and wineries.
Because of what this bill will do for our local small wineries, including the economic growth of our wine industry, I was a supporter of the proposal and voted for the policy.
This bill had bipartisan support through both the Senate and House chambers. It now moves on to Governor Inslee's desk for final signature. If he signs this bill into law, it will go into effect later this year.
I'm hopeful it will become law and am grateful the Legislature each session continues in a bipartisan fashion to foster sound public policy to help our small businesses and wineries thrive.