A bill that would allow hard alcohol samples in grocery stores was approved by the Assembly Thursday.

This bill would allow any retailer with a liquor license to give out samples of hard alcohol. Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, said the bill will level the playing field for distilleries. Breweries and wineries are currently allowed to offer samples. Zamarripa said businesses like Great Lakes Distillery, which is in her district, will benefit from this bill.

“These guys [at Great Lakes Distillery] have worked hard and this bill would mean a lot for them and their business,” Zamarripa said.

This bill would allow patrons one liquor sample per day, so they would not be able to abuse the samples. Sampling for hard liquor would be allowed from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., which is the same as beer and wine sampling. Mike VanDenHeuvel, staff member for Zamarripa, said it would be the business’s responsibility to decide whether it would use a scanning device to track IDs or for the worker to remember who already has had a sample.

The bill was previously proposed in 2011. The original bill faced opposition due to the initial sample size proposed, Zamarripa said. She said they compromised on the bill by reducing the amount a sample would contain. Now, each patron will only be allowed a 0.5 fluid ounce sample of hard alcohol, rather than a 1.5 fluid ounce sample. A 0.5 fluid ounce of hard alcohol is equivalent to a third of a shot.

Zamarripa said grocery stores are allowed to offer up to six ounce samples of wine and beer. While wine and beer have various alcohol content levels, Zamarripa said they tried to write the bill so the samples between the different types of alcohol would be comparable in alcohol content.

Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, said he did not approve of the original bill, but is not opposed to the bill currently after they lowered the amount of alcohol that would be sampled. He said bars could benefit from the bill if people enjoy the samples.

“If someone goes to a grocery store and samples a certain product and they like it, then they will go down to the local bar and order it,” Madland said.

Madland said while it was possible, he was not worried about people abusing the hard liquor samples, due to the one sample limit.

Zamarripa said her focus for the bill was to help the owners of small distilleries and liquor sellers, who have to compete against breweries and wineries.

“This helps small business owners and it will help them grow,” Zamarripa said. “This is truly a small business bill.”