A bipartisan group of lawmakers agree with small beer makers.
Seven state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are asking Governor Scott Walker to veto a portion of the state budget that would affect microbreweries. “I’ve always considered myself an ally of the small craft brewers,” says state Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend). He adds, “They’re upset because the legislation, as drafted, could strip their ability to open up a tavern as well as restrict their ability to wholesale each other’s beer.”
Grothman joined six other lawmakers, two of whom are Democrats, saying this legislation would “punish” small entrepreneurs which help to “define the very culture of this state.” This is not something that was in Walker’s original budget proposal. The measure was inserted into the two-year spending plan by the Joint Finance Committee during the budget-writing process.
Grothman says this subject was barely discussed. “No; when you have a 1,400-page budget … there’s not time for a lot of debate.” He says such changes should be fully debated so people understand what’s going on.
The measure would prohibit breweries from buying the wholesalers that distribute products to taverns and liquor stores under the state’s so-called “three-tier” system, pitting small breweries against the big boys. There are about 60 small craft brewers in Wisconsin. The Beer Distributors Association supports the measure.
Lawmakers signing on to the letter include Republicans Glenn Grothman, Pam Galloway, Steve Nass, Joe Knilans, and Evan Wynn; and Democrats Bob Jauch and Brett Hulsey.