On May 26, 2021, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed into law LB 274 which amended the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. Specifically, LB 274 made permanent several changes to alcohol service in Nebraska that had been temporarily allowed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020.
First, LB 274 allows retail licensees to sell “Ready-to-Drink” alcoholic beverages that may be taken for off-premises consumption. Previously, Nebraska law prohibited the sale of off-premises consumption at retail alcoholic beverages that were not in their original sealed container. However, under the temporary orders created for the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants were allowed to sell “To Go” alcoholic beverages, including cocktails that were mixed at a restaurant. The new law makes permanent that temporary accommodation. The holder of the most commonly issued retail licenses (Class C and Class I license) are now permitted to sell a “Ready-to-Drink” alcoholic beverages if:
- The alcoholic beverage is not partially consumed;
- The alcoholic beverage is in a labeled and sealed container with a tamper-evident lid, cap, or seal, as approved by the Commission;
- For alcoholic beverage transported in a motor vehicle, the alcoholic liquor is placed in the trunk of the motor vehicle or in the area behind the last upright seat of such motor vehicle if the area is not normally occupied by the driver or a passenger and the motor vehicle is not equipped with a trunk; and
- (For Class I Licensees only) The alcoholic beverage is purchased along with food.
Importantly, for Class I license holders, the new law allows them for the first time to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption. Before selling alcoholic liquor in this manner, both Class C and Class I license holders must provide notice to the Commission of their intent to do so.
Second, LB 274 also codifies rules with regard to the creation of a “promotional farmer’s market special designated license.” These new rules will allow craft breweries, micro-distilleries, and farm wineries to sell alcoholic beverages at open-air farmers’ markets, without the need of obtaining a special designated license for each individual farmer’s market date. The applicant must obtain the promotional farmer’s market special designated license from the Liquor Control Commission, with approval from the local governing body also required.
Robert W. Futhey
This article has been prepared for general information purposes and (1) does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Always seek professional counsel prior to taking action.