Aug. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

A Boozy Battle Over Distribution

NBWA says the bill is targeted at protecting the status quo, which requires most alcohol to go from the supplier to the distributor to the retailer.

In addition to lobbying for the bill, the wholesaler trade group is also planning to “key vote” the legislation for its membership.

“The states need the help today,” said Mike Johnson, a lobbyist at NBWA. “We’ll fight this as long as necessary.”

While the wine wholesalers trade group is so far not key-voting the legislation, WSWA spokesman Jerry Brown said it is critically important.

To highlight the importance, the group ran an advertisement last week in an inside-the-Beltway publication urging Congress to “support your state alcohol laws.”

The Distilled Spirits Council and wine and beer companies are ramping up their efforts to oppose to the measure.

The council’s Frank Coleman said that lawmakers were told this proposal was not controversial.

“The producer tier are all adamantly opposed to the provisions in the legislation,” Coleman said. “It gives them the ultimate authority to regulate their distribution and puts in place a high burden of proof for legal challenges to states’ distribution laws.”

While a companion bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, the council pre-emptively sent a letter Thursday to all Senators saying the legislation would “strip away the protections of the Commerce Clause requiring even-handed, non-discriminatory treatment of business practices.”

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