The legislative session kicked off this week, with over 1,600 new laws and rule changes proposed by Oregon's representatives. I'll be doing roundups of the laws relevant to Portland on the blog all weekend and next week.

Remember the scandal last summer when the state fair had to cancel its 22nd-annual homebrew competition?

The legislature is considering three separate bills to nix the long-unenforced Oregon Liquor Control Commission laws requiring people who brew at home to get a license if they serve beer in public. Lax enforcement of that rule over the past decades has given rise to brewing competitions, public tasting events, and homebrew parties across the state.

"There are lots of homebrew competitions in Oregon," Chris Hummert, a member of homebrewing association the Oregon Brew Crew told the Mercury last summer. "I'm aware of 14 that will be affected by this." The OLCC taxes sales of Oregon craft breweries, many of which started as homebrewing operations.

The three bills (HB 2588, 2262, and 2913) are pretty similar, all of them exempting homebrew from the OLCC licensing rules if it's being shared (not sold) for any sort of competition.

On a related beverage-regulation note, public health advocate Mitch Greenlick (who raised a storm earlier this week with his "no babies on bikes" bill) is also pitching a soda tax. The soda tax would levy a .005 cent sales tax PER OUNCE (that's .08 cents on a regular Pepsi) on any drinks sweetened with sugar, which means soda, juices and energy drinks.

It would not apply to drinks that are 100 percent fruit of vegetable juice, drinks sweetened with "noncaloric" sweeteners (like a lot of diet drinks and, ugh, VitaminWater), and any dietary aid.