Alcohol wholesalers lobby gets new rules slipped into bill after secret Asheville rendezvous

Longleaf Politics | A recent memo sent by the N.C. Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association to its members this week provides us a revealing glimpse of how politics works in real life.

The new deal with state lawmakers that the memo discloses is a little in the weeds. The bill in question is House Bill 500, currently under consideration. It’s an omnibus ABC bill, meaning that it makes a lot of little adjustments to the state’s alcohol laws. It passed the House last April and is now in Senate committees.

The bill got a few new amendments in a Senate committee. One enables wholesale business owners to transfer control of the company to a family member. Previously, this could only be done upon the business owner’s death.

A second new provision ends a practice where big brewers were able to determine who a wholesaler could sell his business to.

Another new provision ends a mechanism where “suppliers” — meaning beer brewers — could own part of a wholesale business for eight years and make business loans to help other companies acquire wholesale businesses.

In all three cases, the changes make North Carolina’s alcohol laws just a little bit more wholesaler friendly. In the third part, that comes at the expense of beer brewers.

The bill passed committee as amended, but must first go to the full Senate and then back to the House now.

All that’s not the interesting part, though. The bill as a whole makes sense. Why should a big beer brewer be able to dictate how a wholesaler sells his business?

The interesting part is how the changes came about.

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June 11th, 2018 by
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