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Lawmaker: Unlicensed wedding barns currently operating illegally

Mitch Reynolds

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As far as one lawmaker is concerned, the whole dispute that’s suddenly emerged over wedding barns and liquor licenses in Wisconsin is pretty much settled.

Republican legislator Rob Swearingen, who heads an alcohol oversight committee in Madison, said the state attorney general’s new finding that the barns need liquor licenses to have booze for events, puts a lid on any need to make new rules for those venues.

“In light of attorney general Brad Schimel’s opinion, it’s my thought that we should just continue to operate in what he would agree is current law,” Swearingen said, adding he’ll check with the state revenue department to make sure they’re putting in place new rules.

“Via his informal opinion that wedding barns do need to be licensed,” Swearingen said.

The push for licensing comes from the state’s Tavern League, which claims the private venues have an unfair advantage if they’re allowing booze to be served without a liquor license.
Swearingen is the former Tavern League state president.

The issue surfaced after Swearingen asked for Schimel’s opinion on the licensing question.