Governor signs Chambers’ winery workforce development bill into law

A bill sponsored by Rep. Kelly Chambers seeking to grow the workforce in Washington’s wine industry has been signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Under current law, individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from working full-time at Washington state wineries unless enrolled in a post-secondary school program. If still under the age of 21 upon graduating, the law states they may not continue to engage in wine production-related work at a winery.

Chambers’ House Bill 1289 will allow 18- to 20-year-old employees to work in the manufacturing and production side of a winery as long as an adult 21 years of age or older is on duty supervising. The bill will not allow employees under the age of 21 to sell, serve or consume alcohol.

Chambers, who serves as the ranking Republican on the House College and Workforce Development Committee, says House Bill 1289 offers a common-sense fix to existing law that will generate interest in viticulture programs at Washington State University and other post-secondary institutions, while also opening up career pathways for 18- to 20-year-olds across the state. Additionally, she says she hopes to expand the law to Washington’s entire beverage alcohol industry next year, which is what another one of her bills, House Bill 1483, would do.

“Although I originally anticipated House Bill 1483 would advance to the governor’s desk this year, House Bill 1289 is a good starting point,” said Chambers, R-Puyallup. “As a result of this bill becoming law, we will be able to strengthen important university programs and help connect prospective employees with companies in an industry that plays a critical role in our state’s economy. I want to thank the members of both chambers for their strong support of House Bill 1289 throughout the legislative process. I also want to thank the distillers and brewers for being gracious in their support of this bill moving forward this year. I look forward to working with them next session to make this policy change apply to the entire beverage alcohol industry.”

Facts about Washington’s wine industry (source):

  • Number of wineries: 1,050+
  • Number of wine grape growers: 400+
  • Wine grape acreage: 60,000+ acres
  • Wine production: Approx. 17.7 million cases
  • Varieties produced: 70+
  • Total economic impact: $8.4 billion

House Bill 1289 will go into effect on July 25.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov