There was an interesting piece published in Mutineer Magazine yesterday about the a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would give states more authority to regulate alcohol. Purportedly, the bill would potentially block the interstate sales of beer and wine. This would put an end to out of state ordering of beer and wine on the internet, by phone and directly from your beverage purveyor.
According to the report, the “Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010” would declare congressional policy giving states the right to regulate alcohol sales in their borders. Right now, there are 125 co-sponsors in the House and no companion bill in the Senate.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association is lobbying heavily in favor of the bill and has already contributed to the coffers of bill cosponsors. The NBWA claims they’re only trying to ensure states have better control in defending their alcohol laws, but bill critics claim that the NBWA is only trying to limit competition. Jonathan Yarowsky, lobbyist for the Beer Institute, states that brewers believe the bill “would lead to a protectionist and anti-competitive system that would hurt consumers.”
The beer industry isn’t the only one up in arms about this bill. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), who head the Congressional Wine Caucus, wrote to their colleagues that the House bill would “devastate California’s and other states’ wine industries, stunt economic growth and harm consumers by allowing discriminatory law and regulation to be passed and go unchallenged.”
Again, we are dealing with legislation being pushed by distributors to protect their right to control alcohol. It appears that there is a lot of this going around, perhaps trying to save distributors in a time when most consumers and craft purveyors are trying to loosen restraints that make it too difficult to obtain, and afford, alcohol.
Of course, you cannot blame distributors for trying to keep a stranglehold on the industry. But, the fight over this bill is similar to the battle over Initiative 1100 in Washington. We’ll keep a close eye on this legislation as it makes its way through committee.