By Alexandria Osborne
Washington State Journal 

Bill allows underage workers to handle alcohol

 

Last updated 2/21/2023 at Noon



OLYMPIA — Interns and employees between the ages of 18- 23 in the alcoholic beverage industry will be able engage in handling liquor under House Bill 1299.

The measure introduced by Rep. Kelly Chambers, R-Puyallup, would allow interns and employees between 18 and 21 to transport, handle or possess liquor.

The bill would also permit a bar or restaurant to allow underage employees to stock and handle liquor if a person over the age of 21 is present and supervising.

The bill would also allow wineries to have interns or employees between 18-21 to engage in wine production-related work at a winery’s licensed location.

The intern or employee would need to be a student in a college or university, and an intern must be enrolled in a required course for programs involving wine and viticulture.

Washington State University has a wine program, and students who are older than 18 are able to work in wine production, Rep. Chambers said. But, if they complete the program before they turn 21, they would not be able to continue with their employment or participate in a higher education program.


“At the same time, wineries are already family friendly,” she said. “You can be under 21 and be in a winery, but you couldn’t go into the back where the barrels and the warehouse and the labs are.”

Chambers said employers facing worker shortages would benefit from younger employees helping with some of the behind-the-scenes production and in the manufacturing process.

“Everyone is needing labor and work,” she said. “It’s not a consumption piece, but it’s more of a workforce piece where they get to learn the trade and do a job and help the industry.”

The Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee passed the measure unanimously.

 

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