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Monday, April 7, 2008

Bill makes charity wine auctions legal

Organizers of last fall's Lake Geneva Wine Festival were apparently breaking the law with their charity wine auction, but a bill signed this week by Gov. Jim Doyle fixes the problem.

Under current law, anyone who sells alcohol is required to hold a license, according to State Sen. Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn.

However, there are exceptions to this requirement, such as, breweries furnishing beer to visitors on premises, municipalities selling beer in a public park, or raffles awarding alcohol beverages in unopened containers as prizes.

The new law creates an additional exception for charitable organizations that auction off sealed bottles of wine or liquor as a part of their fund-raising efforts.

"Charities that wish to raise money by auctioning off unopened bottles of wine or liquor can now do so without worrying if they're violating state law," said Kedzie.

Kedzie and Rep. Tom Lothian of Williams Bay co-sponsored the bill.

The issue was brought to Kedzie's attention by constituents associated with the Lake Geneva Wine Festival, which raised over $55,000 for charity last year.

Festival officials were surprised to learn their charity wine auction conflicted with state law.

The new law corrects this situation, not only for the Lake Geneva Wine Festival, but any other Wisconsin charity that chooses to auction wine or other alcoholic beverages to raise money for their organization.

"The Lake Geneva Wine Festival supports three local, non-profit organizations that help our youth and families," Kedzie said. "In a small way, this new law will help such charities raise the money they need to help those who are truly in need."

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