A couple of lawmakers have a new bill that would exempt micro-breweries from the beer distribution changes made in the 2011-13 state budget. Representative Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) says the new regulations are harmful to small beer makers — they hurt competition, limit trade and discourage investment. “Basically losing the ability to wholesale their product is one of the major issues for them.”
This proposal would exempt craft brewers that manufacture less than 300,000 barrels per year from the new law. Ringhand says strong opposition from consumers and small businesses — including calls from Deb Carey, the founder of New Glarus Brewing Company located in Ringhand’s district — prompted her to do something. She’s hopeful the measure will go through the Rural Economic Development Committee, of which she is a member.
“It certainly does affect economic development in rural areas because these brewers are usually in smaller communities; they bring in tourism; they hire people.”
There was no public input on the subject before it became law. Ringhand hopes to have a public hearing this time around. She says it’s important to support the entrepreneurs and small business owners that help to grow the economy.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers had asked Governor Scott Walker to veto a portion of the budget pertaining to micro-breweries that was added by the Joint Committee on Finance, but he opted against that request.
There are about 60 small craft brewers in Wisconsin. Rep. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) began circulating the legislation Monday.