Proposed Federal Legislation Could Stop Interstate Beer Sales

Distributors brought us out of Prohibition. Now, they are fighting to avoid extinction.

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.

From the article:

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.

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BeerBlotter.com: The Big Battle Over Initiative 1100 & 1105

Are BevMo and Binnys on the way to Washington? Who knows, but the chips are starting to stack against Initiative 1100.

***This post was originally published on BeerBlotter.com, a seattle beer blog, to which I regularly offer commentary.***

Well, its getting even more interesting. The battle over Washington State Initiatives 1100 & 1105 is heating up, more and more, each and every day.

In case you don’t know, Initiative 1100 was introduced back in June 2010 to privatize liquor sales in Washington and to deregulate much of the industry, allowing alcohol to be sold more freely. Initiative 1105 is very similar, but institutes price controls for liquor permits based upon the volume sold. There is much more on these initiatives here on Wikipedia, here on Beer Blotter, and here on Washington Beer Blog.

But recently, the government stuck its head in to the fight – providing a bounty of scary statistics. The Office of Financial Management purportedly performed a study, finding that the State stands to lose between $277 – 730 Million (depending on the measure that passes) if the Initiatives become law.

Opponents of the statistics say that the State is failing to run the numbers on the increase in alcohol taxes that will be raised by private sales of liquor. Furthermore, the State failed to measure the expected increase in alcohol sales in general, due to deregulation of the distribution and sales system.

But now, we have a purported beverage industry blogger bringing a fresh perspective to the Initiatives. Yes 1100–No 1105 is a blog written by an anonymous source, urging consumer to say Yes to 1100 and No to 1105. According to the blogger, the problem with 1105 is that its backed by enormous out of state distributors, hoping to gain a monopoly on the sale of alcohol.

The blogger has even pointed out that Young’s Columbia (one of the great beer distributors we have here in Washington) has contributed a hefty sum to the NO to 1100/1105 campaign put on by Washington Beer & Wine Wholesales PAC. This comes just after Young’s committed $1 Million to the campaign to pass 1105.

Apparently, its 1105 or nothing at all for the distributor. The blogger also has a sneaking suspicion that 1105 was a smokescreen to drag down 1100, all with the intention of supporting a NO campaign in the end. We will never know, and we aren’t speculating either way.

Here is the blogger’s short statement:

Washington State will vote on two liquor privatization initiatives this November– Initiative 1100 and Initiative 1105. I-1100 will provide a fair marketplace for consumers, while improving the Liquor Control Board’s ability to enforce important alcohol safety laws. I-1105 would only guarantee monopoly privileges to the large out-of-state wholesalers who put 1105 on the ballot, with no benefits for consumers and no improvements in public health and safety.

Anyways, we at Beer Blotter have vowed to stay out of the fight and reserve our opinions for vote day. But, we are committed to providing readers with all the resources they can grab, so that you can make an informed decision – come vote day.

Check out the Yes 1100 — No 1105 blog, as well as the vast assortment of other resources and make your own call. Leave comments below if you have something to say.

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WA Brewers Guild Sour on Initiative 1100 – But Is It Just Fear?

The voice of Washington brewers has spoken: No on Initiative 1100

***This article was originally published on BeerBlotter.com, a Seattle based beer blog where I regularly provide commentary on beer law.***

 

I want to take a quick moment and point to Seattle Beer News‘ latest article on Initiative 1100, the proposed bill to privatize liquor sales and deregulate alcohol sales in the State of Washington. We briefly discussed this in the past, posting an article from BreweryLaw.com.

The author at Seattle Beer News, Geoff Kaiser, wrote a think piece about the new proposition, considering the Washington Brewers Guild. The Guild recently released a presser openly opposing the proposed legislation, citing concerns that I-1100 is the greatest threat the Washington craft brewing industry has experienced in a decade.”

I first want to applaud Geoff for his very honest portrayal of the tug and pull he is experiencing on the issue. Truly, he is correct to say that there are many arguments to be made in support of, and in opposition to, Initiative 1100.

Similarly, Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog wrote an article - supporting the Guild. Kendall was very clear to state that there are a lot of reasons to support and to oppose the bill, but that his heart is with the Guild. His summary: educate yourself and then you can make a good decision when you vote.

Chiefly, Washington brewers are focusing on the fear that an open marketplace allows massive beer sellers (Costco, Binnys, MillerCoors, etc.) free reign to cause disruption to the beer market in Washington.

Of course, the Guild is correct to state that passage of deregulation opens up the market and can cause disruption. But, as an open market fan, you certainly hope that opens opportunities to all people and businesses. New businesses develop, new jobs are created, more buyers are available, and consumerism grows.

The key in deregulation is to find your niche, become innovative and be more efficient. California has been very successful in scaling back regulation and letting brewers brew and sell. The California beer industry continues to grow and prosper.

I am not going to tell anyone how to vote. But, please read the Brewers Guild position, because you should see both the good and the bad of I-1100 before you decide to vote. Brewers know the business and their opinion should resonate well in the beer community. But, fear can be blinding.

For more information on the proposed legislation, please visit Modernize Washington. For full disclosure, this is the organization who is backing the initiative.

 

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