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Senate leadership wants "Alcohol Czar" to enforce Wisconsin liquor rules

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Junau, has created a bill that would create a new alcohol enforcement agency, with a leader appointed by the governor.

The leader, or so called "Alcohol Czar," would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.

Currently, alcohol regulations are handled by the Department of Revenue, but the new agency would be autonomous.

Lakefront Brewery owner Russ Klisch says creating an entire new alcohol enforcement agency would cost businesses like his money.

"It would be like somebody coming to you and saying, we're going to put another ten cops on your street in your subdivision so we can arrest everybody who rolls a stop sign or goes a mile over the speed limit. i think what this bill is - is a revenue generator."

Klisch will travel to Madison and testify against the proposal at the state senate hearing Thursday. Frank Lasusa owns Corvina Wine in West Allis and says the idea has created a stir in the industry.

"We heard a lot of the buzz today. i think it's a pretty regulated industry as it is."

Lasusa says law changes would impact distributors,wholesalers, distilleries and breweries, which all work together..

"All parties involved should have a say. that's why i think with the wholesale lobby, and the alliance that's been formed with the breweries, distilleries and wineries. i think that all parties should kind of voice their opinion on it."

Senate leadership says Wisconsin needs to enforce it's rules, but the assembly also needs to pass the bill, and Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, says he's not sure if that can happen.

"It could be a big lift. so i have to see where we are. I haven't talked about it with our caucus, but i think people were somewhat spectacle of it during the budget process, and i haven't seen many people change their minds."

MillerCoors sent a statement saying in part, "The Department of Revenue has been effectively and efficiently regulating alcohol in this state since prohibition and this change is unnecessary."

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