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Wedding barn owners sure over liquor law rewrite

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(The Center Square) – Some wedding barn owners in Wisconsin are taking the state’s new liquor law to court.

Two wedding barn owners, one from Berlin and the other from Blair, filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Revenue.

The owners say Wisconsin’s new liquor law that requires wedding barn owners to either limit their offerings or get a liquor license is unconstitutional.

“Hosting low-cost weddings in our barn allows us to pay for upgrades to our home and farm equipment to keep our farm up and running. This legislation was designed by special interests in Madison to limit competition, and that’s not right,” Farmview Event Barn owner Jean Bahn said. “We are strictly for private events, but this law has said ‘oh, you’re public.’”

Wisconsin lawmakers overhauled the state’s liquor laws last year. In addition to sweeping changes for how beer, liquor, and wine can be sold, the new law included a change aimed at wedding barns that had allowed people to bring their own beer and liquor to their parties.

Now, wedding barns must either get a no sale event venue permit and be limited to six events per year or get a liquor license like other venues that hold weddings and the like.

“Wisconsin small business owners trying to make a living are seeing their entire life’s work thrown away due to heavy-handed economic protectionism,” The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s Lucas Vebber said in a statement.

WILL said the liquor law rewrite is wrong because it was essentially written by lobbyists to benefit the state’s enshrined liquor powers that be.

“Special interests and their well-connected lobbyists shouldn’t be able to write laws to hurt their competition, and that’s why WILL is fighting back.”

“It is unfair that the State of Wisconsin has chosen to single out the few barn venues that are a destination only. We lease our space to couples wishing to have a country-style wedding,” Monarch Valley Wedding & Events owner Daniel Gallagher added. “Requiring us to be a liquor retailer in a dry township is causing our small, family-run business – which already pays state and local real estate taxes – to go out of business.”

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