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Amid scandal, OLCC Board votes to limit employee access to rare liquor products


PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission Board approved a policy Thursday restricting agency employee access to rare and hard-to-find liquor products to prevent a repeat of a recent scandal involving the agency.

During its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the board also heard more public testimony on a proposal to increase the per-bottle cost of liquor.

In addition, the commissioners took action on two administrative violation cases, provided beer, wine and cider manufacturers a break on privilege tax penalties, selected a new small business operator for a liquor store on the central coast, and approved stipulated settlements affecting alcohol and recreational marijuana licensees.

In the wake of the disclosure over former OLCC employees gaining preferred access to manufacturer allocated distilled spirits (e.g. Pappy Van Winkle’s), the agency is creating a series of new policies that clearly spell out how rare and hard-to-find products will be distributed.

The first policy applies to OLCC employees and specifies that employees are not allowed to set aside liquor for their own purchase. Additional policies are being developed to address how manufacturer allocated products could be provided to non-profits and charities, and how rare and hard-to-find products should be sold to consumers once they reach retailers.

In considering an increase to the price of individual bottles of liquor, Commissioners said they must strike a balance between fostering responsible access to and consumption of alcohol through the controlled sale of liquor, and supporting Oregon businesses that produce and serve distilled spirits to consumers.

Both the public health and hospitality industries weighed in on the 50-cent surcharge proposed for bottles of liquor sold at Oregon retailers. The feedback comes ahead of a vote on the proposal, slated for the board’s meeting next month. If approved the surcharge is projected to raise an additional $45 million during the 2023-2025 biennium (or about $22.5 million per fiscal year), that will go to the state’s general fund.

“We are a very (substance) abusive state,” said OLCC Chair Marvin Révoal. “As we move forward, your comments will be well received and accepted. We are not trying to convince one another as to what to do. We’re going to continue this (public) process, because it’s very important.”

In other matters, the board voted to waive privilege tax interest and penalties that some beer, wine and cider producers and importers accumulated during the agency’s transition from a paper to online tax reporting system. The OLCC had earlier acknowledged to those taxpayers that the transition had not been smooth and that the agency bore responsibility not to penalize them for the agency’s actions.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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