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Sen. Riley confesses cider conflict of interest

Cider bills have consistently received unanimous support in the House and Senate.

PARIS ACHEN/CAPITAL BUREAU - A cider ad for Jabolcni Tat, 4.5 percent alcohol content, in Ljubljana, SloveniaCider, one of Oregon's beloved fermented beverages, evoked some bias when a bill to increase its allowable alcohol content came to the Senate floor Tuesday.

The bill is intended to update Oregon's law to mirror federal law, which recently increased the allowable alcohol content in cider from 7 percent to 8.5 percent.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill April 19. The Senate unanimously passed the legislation May 23.

Before senators cast their votes, Sen. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro, stood up to declare a conflict of interest.

Seconds of silence suspended the proceedings.

Then, Riley spoke: "I like cider."

The bill also exempts cider makers from winery licensee requirements. State law defines cider with greater than 7 percent alcohol as wine.

Coincidentally on the same day the bill passed the Senate, Salem Brewery Association and Travel Salem launched a beer and cider "passport" that offers a guide to three cideries and nine breweries in the Salem area.

The passport includes information on the establishments and provides space for tasting notes and special offers.

The House and Senate also passed a cider bill that would make it easier to establish cider businesses.

During his introduction of the bill on the House floor Thursday, Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, vocally fantasized how nice it would be to have a cider on a beautiful day when legislators are stuck making policy in the poorly-lit Capitol.