After coming up short last year, it looks like the "Four Firkins" bill will pass into law in 2012.
The legislation, which would allow liquor stores to sell store-branded T-shirts and other merchandise, was included in an omnibus liquor package passed by the Minnesota House on Friday afternoon. It was also included in the Senate's bill that passed on Wednesday, meaning Gov. Mark Dayton's signature on a final omnibus bill will make the legislation law.
The Four Firkins bill first came forward during the 2011 session when Jason Alvey, owner of St. Louis Park craft beer store , approached Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-District 44A) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) with his desire to sell store-branded gear. It was included in last year's House omnibus package, but in the Senate, ultimately killing the bill.
After last year's failure, Simon said he was during the 2012 session, though he expressed some concern that a potential might have hampered the chances of an omnibus liquor bill being heard.
"Our provision is meant to unshackle liquor store owners from a strange and unnecessary restriction," the legislator said in a previous email interview. "The bill is a reasonable expansion of free market principles in support of small businesses."
For Alvey, being able to sell t-shirts is something that has been a long time coming. Shortly after opening his store in 2008, he learned about the law preventing him from selling Four Firkins gear, forcing him to give away a bunch of shirts he had planned on selling. Alvey waited a few years for his business to grow, then approached the local legislators with his proposal.
“We have lots of regular customers who would be proud to wear a Four Firkins T-shirt,” Alvey said last year. “We want to be able to sell to them.”
Now, it looks like he'll be able to do just that.