Tobacco License Bill Heads to Governor

Assembly Bill 628/Senate Bill 528, authored Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) makes changes to the circumstances and procedures under which a local municipality can suspend retail tobacco licenses.

The legislation passed the Senate and the Assembly via voice votes and now heads to Governor Walker for a signature.

Under the amended bill, Milwaukee may suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a cigarette and tobacco products retailer license if the retailer does any of the following: 1) violates certain restrictions relating to the sale of cigarettes and tobacco; 2) keeps premises that are disorderly, riotous, indecent, or improper; 3) has knowingly permitted criminal behavior on the premises; 4) has been convicted of manufacturing, distributing, or delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver, a controlled substance; or 5) knowingly allows another person on the licensed premises to manufacture, distribute, or deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver, a controlled substance.

Additionally, the bill establishes a hearing procedure under which Milwaukee can suspend the license if enough evidence is found to do so. At a public hearing, supporters expressed that the legislation is needed to curb a small number of disorderly tobacco establishments in the Near West Side of Milwaukee that have received over 300 calls from police in three years. Those in favor of the legislation say that curbing this disruptive behavior of a few establishments, will help the area be open to better economic growth and development opportunities.

The bill would bring tobacco licensing procedures in line with alcohol licensing procedures in that it gives local municipalities the legal power to investigate and punish disruptive establishments.