The Assembly Room Inc., a nonprofit social club, is seeking local zoning approvals to operate in a number of communities that include Port Washington.
The non-alcoholic club is an alternative for people who don’t want to go to taverns. Members pay dues for the use of pool tables, dartboards, air hockey, foosball and more.
The Menomonee Falls based club's roll-your-own cigarette (RYO) machines are causing a stir from state tax collectors, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A number of smoke shops have faced some obstacles due to a law that requires smoke shops to pay the same taxes and obtain the same permits as big-name tobacco manufacturers to continue allowing customers to use rolling machines on the premises.
Under that law RYO cigarette shops are classified the same as big-name tobacco manufacturers.
Port's Smoke Shack owner Corey Judson thought he won a legal battle last year when a pending legal action allowed him to operate without a manufacturers' license — a requirement created under a law passed in July as part of the federal transportation bill.
However, Judson later learned that the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a different case from 2010 that again classified RYO cigarette shops as manufacturers, and that he would have to stop operating his machines without that license.
Cheryl Peters, founder and president of The Assembly Room, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the social club should be allowed to include RYO machines without being classified as a cigarette manufacturer and paying the same taxes. The club doesn't sell tobacco. The club's members are the ones who operate the machines using tobacco and paper bought elsewhere.
The state Department of Revenue ordered The Assembly Room to stop operating its two RYO machines without manufacturing and distribution permits. However, Peters obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the department from taking further action.
Wisconsin state tax collectors are ensuring cigarette shops either pay the higher taxes on roll-your-own machines or removing the machines from their shops, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Assembly Room is also looking for local zoning approval to operate in West Allis and Slinger as well as Port Washington. The Watertown Plan Commission this month rejected a proposed downtown location, repored the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.