Three of MacEwen’s bills signed into law by Gov. Inslee

Three bills sponsored by Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, have been signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee following the adjournment of the 2019 legislative session.

House Bills 1430 and 1557 are designed to transform the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) into a more business-friendly agency focused on excellent customer service.

House Bill 1430 will extend the expiration date of the Licensing and Enforcement Systems Modernization Project Account to September 2023. Revenue for the account, which was created in 2015, comes from a fee applied to certain liquor licenses and the licenses of marijuana producers, processors, and retailers. It is dedicated for expenses associated with the replacement and modernization of the LCB's computer system. That work is already underway, but was not going to be completed by the time the account was scheduled to expire in June.

“Extending the expiration date of this account will allow the LCB to complete the much-needed modernization of its 40-year-old system,” said MacEwen. “These updates will ensure license processing time is reduced, while also providing other benefits such as online payment options. It's a good bill for the LCB and for our small businesses, which will see a return on their investment into the account.”

House Bill 1557 will update the licensing process for businesses applying for an annual liquor license. Currently, business owners pay up front and then go through a review process to get final approval for their liquor license. However, if the review takes longer than expected, they may find themselves paying for a liquor license they aren't able to use. To mitigate this, House Bill 1557 will require the expiration date of a liquor license to be set 12 months from the date of approval.

The bill also addresses a provision in current law that requires an applicant to have control of the premises to be qualified for a liquor license. Under HB 1557, a business owner will be allowed to apply for a liquor license for a physical location without first signing a lease or buying the property.

“House Bill 1557 will help mitigate some of the upfront cash flow concerns associated with opening a new business and obtaining a liquor license,” said MacEwen. “We want to make sure the system is fair for our small business owners, and the provisions in this bill will help in that effort.”

House Bill 1146 will extend the state's Christmas tree grower licensure program by 10 years. The program, which was created in 2007, requires Christmas tree growers to obtain a grower license from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). The annual fee for a license is $40, plus an acreage assessment of $3 per acre. Fees are deposited into a dedicated Christmas tree subaccount within the WSDA, which are then allocated for a number of ongoing research and preservation efforts.

“This bill will ensure the Christmas tree industry in our state, which ranks fourth in production nationwide, remains compliant with the USDA and is able to continue exporting trees here in the United States and around the world,” said MacEwen. “Without this bill, the roughly 250 Christmas tree growers across the state would be at a significant competitive disadvantage. In 2013, I ran the bill to extend this program. I'm honored to have played a role this session in extending it yet again through House Bill 1146.”

The 2019 session ended April 28. MacEwen's three bills will become effective later this year.


Washington State House Republican Communications