A bill that will allow small Iowa distilleries, including the Mississippi River Distilling Co. in LeClaire, to sell drinks by the glass cleared the Iowa Senate on Monday and was sent to Gov. Terry Branstad.
The legislation has been in the works for years and represents a compromise among beer, wine and spirits producers, as well as beer wholesalers.
The Senate passed it, 50-0. Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, was the floor manager for the legislation. The House had already approved it.
“This is a bill we have been working hard on for almost four years now,” said Garrett Burchett, owner of Mississippi River Distilling Co. “We are so pleased that the Legislature was able to reach across the aisle and put together a solution that everyone could come together on.”
In addition to allowing distilleries to sell, by the glass, the spirits they make on site, the legislation will increase the number of bottles that can be sold, as well as the amount a distillery can produce.
The bill also includes other updates to Iowa's regulations on alcohol.
After sailing through the House, the bill had stalled in the Senate because of an issue over the three-tier system — the separation of alcohol producers, distributors and retailers — but that hurdle was removed, and the bill won approval.
“We will see economic growth from this bill, but we also will not hurt existing jobs,” said Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo.
Small distilleries have argued they needed the legislation to put them on an even footing with craft beer makers and wineries.
The LeClaire distillery has even hosted Branstad to discuss the matter with him.
(The Gazette in Cedar Rapids contributed to this report.)