Case Name: Farmview Event Barn, LLC v. Tony Evers

Type of Case: Economic Liberty

Court: Dunn County Circuit Court

Case Number: 2019-CV-9 (Circuit Court)

Filed On: January 14, 2019

Current Status: Case dismissed; Pending appeal

For years, wedding barns have been legally operating in Wisconsin without needing to obtain alcohol licenses. This makes sense; unlike bars, wedding barns do not sell alcohol and are not public places. Nevertheless, special interests have targeted wedding barns in hopes of subjecting them to the same government red tape as bars and restaurants.

The legislature twice considered proposals in 2018 targeting wedding barns for increased regulation. But WILL’s legal analyses helped sink both proposals when it was revealed they could ban tailgating or alcohol consumption at vacation homes.

In November 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Justice issued an opinion that state law subjects event venues available for private rental, such as wedding barns, to alcohol retail permitting requirements. WILL issued a release explaining why that conclusion is wrong. The result was a cloud of uncertainty about how the law will be enforced.

In January 2019, we sued in state court on behalf of two wedding barns, seeking a declaratory judgment that wedding barns (and other venues that permit guests to bring their own alcohol) do not need their own liquor licenses.  When the Department of Revenue agreed with our interpretation of the case, the judge dismissed the case as moot.  However, he also ruled that we couldn’t name the Governor and Attorney General as parties.  We are considering an appeal.

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