House committee passes two liquor bills; including home brew measure

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House Judiciary Committee passed two liquor-related bills Tuesday and sent them to the full House for consideration.

Tom Fast, R-Fayette

The committee approved HB 4524 on a 16-8 vote. It would make the entire state “wet” when it comes to the retail sale of liquor and wine. The bill provides counties an option to go “dry” through a countywide vote. The county commission would have to call for the vote.

There are currently 13 “dry” areas in the state where there’s no retail sale of liquor or wine.. Some of those areas are counties, others are towns or even magisterial districts. The bill says if a county votes to go “dry” those towns or magisterial districts that are currently “dry” would be grandfathered in.

Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, voted against the bill. He said the bill is “another step in the wrong direction.”

“(Alcohol) results in the deaths of battered wives, battered husbands and battered children. Are we going to take a blind eye to that?” Fast asked.

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, voted in favor of the bill. He said it’s about choice.

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha

“I don’t particularly like the substance. I don’t touch it. I think it’s poison but I don’t want to push my beliefs on you. Do what you want. Vote for this bill,” Pushkin said.

A second bill, HB 4158, would decriminalize the making of alcohol at home. The bill says a person has to be at least 21 to manufacture liquor. The bill prohibits the homemade brew from retail sale.

The judiciary committee amended the bill Tuesday in connection with the amount of liquor allowed to be manufactured during a year. The bill now says it cannot exceed 100 gallons per calendar year if there are two adults in the house or 50 gallons if there is only one person over the age of 21.

Delegate Larry Kump, R-Berkeley, said his support of the bill was based on personal freedoms.

“What we do in our home should be our own business….even if it’s stupid,” Kump said.

Both bills now head to the full House of Delegates for consideration.

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