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Just a Taste 

Editor:

Ryan Hurley's blurb in the April 3 issue about a bill I introduced, AB 1989, was cleverly written and entertaining to read ("#Buhneisback"). But I wonder if Ryan actually did his homework and read the bill, because his piece did not accurately characterize this legislation and sounded a little like sour grapes.

AB 1989 would allow students age 18 to 20, to taste, not drink, wine or beer if those students are taking a required course for a degree in wine or beer making at an accredited college or university. It doesn't include students from other majors taking electives in these programs. I introduced the bill at the request of the University of California, which offers these types of programs at several campuses. There are no wine or beer making programs at either Humboldt State University or at College of the Redwoods. However, there are accredited programs at Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College.

The change in the law is needed because students majoring in these fields who are under 21 are prohibited from participating in critical tasting and production courses until the end of their academic studies — or, in some cases, not at all. This delay significantly impacts their coursework and eliminates internship opportunities that require an understanding of making wine or beer that only tasting courses can provide.

Twelve states have already passed similar laws. California is a leader in wine production on a global scale — accounting for more than 90 percent of all wine produced in the United States and is also a leader in the craft brewing industry with 422 craft breweries accounting for $4 billion of the California economy.

This legislation will ensure that our students have the same educational opportunities that are currently offered by our neighbors and will guarantee that our graduates will remain competitive in California's thriving wine and beer industries. Cheers!

Wesley Chesbro, Arcata

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