News

Alcohol border sales trouble brewing between Illinois and Indiana 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:52:00 AM

Source: Illinois News Network

June 25, 2017

Illinois is already losing out on alcohol sales, and changes to Indiana's alcohol sales regulations could add to the state's revenue woes.

With high alcohol taxes in Illinois and neighboring Indiana showing an interest in relaxing strict alcohol regulations, Illinois distributors fear alcohol sales could move out of state. 

In Indiana, cold beer can be sold only in liquor stores and no alcohol sales are allowed on Sundays except at restaurants. In a recent poll, though, 71 percent of Indiana supported allowing more cold beer sales and 65 percent approved of Sunday alcohol sales.

Bob Myers, president of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, emphasized that changes to Indiana's alcohol sales laws could bring tougher times to retailers in Illinois benefiting from patrons crossing the border. 

"When Indiana changes those laws, it's going to end, causing more competition for our Illinois retailers, and it could end up having a very adverse effect on sales," Myers said.  

Myers noted that while some Indiana residents might come to Illinois for alcohol on a Sunday or to stock up on cold beer, Illinois residents are just as often crossing the border to avoiding paying higher alcohol prices due to taxes. 

"In Illinois, the tax on beer is 23.1 cents per gallon; in Indiana it's like half that amount - around 11.5 cents per gallon," Myers said. "They're already at a competitive advantage because of the fact their taxes are so much cheaper."

According to Myers, a study revealed that Illinois is losing between $15 million and $30 million per year in cross-border alcohol sales. That number could go up If Indiana loosens its alcohol regulations and Illinois residents look for savings. 

"Not only does the state of Illinois charge a tax on beer wine and spirits, but so does the county of Cook, and so does the city of Chicago," Myers said. "So by time you pay all of your tax, somewhere in the neighborhood of about 48 to 49 percent of that beer that you just purchased was tax alone."

Myers has heard of retailers being caught going to Indiana, purchasing enough alcohol to fill up a trailer and bringing it back to Illinois to avoid paying the higher taxes. 

"When you have situations like that, Illinois not only loses what they call the 'gallonage' tax the tax distributors pay, but we also lose the sales tax, because once those retailers go over and they purchase products illegally and they bring it back to Illinois to sell it illegally, chances are they're not going to be applying the applicable sales tax to those drinks," Myers said.

 

Myers said if Indiana changes its alcohol regulations to expand sales, more money could be leaving Illinois

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WSWA President and CEO Statement on Ruling to Dismiss Lebamoff Enterprises v. Rauner 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:50:00 AM

Wholesaler Chief Says Ruling Again Demonstrates Courts' Long-Standing and Repeated Support for Primary State Authority and Three-Tier System

Source: WSWA

June 23rd

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf today issued the below statement following a recent Illinois court ruling that reinforced the constitutionality and important societal benefits of the three-tier system of beverage alcohol regulation. The Illinois decision is just one of numerous recent court decisions across multiple states each upholding these important principles.

The ruling was issued June 8 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Lebamoff Enterprises v. Rauner.  District Judge Der-Yeghiayan held that Illinois law prohibiting an out-of-state retailer from directly shipping beverage-alcohol to an in-state consumer, did not violate the Commerce Clause. 

"To allow Out-of-State Plaintiffs to operate outside the three-tier system in Illinois, while in-state retailers diligently operate within the regulatory system and help to limit the potential social problems connected with improper use of alcohol, would actually provide Out-of-State Plaintiffs with an unfair advantage over the in-state retailers rather than remove any self-perceived disadvantage to Plaintiffs.  Plaintiffs' Commerce Clause claims in this action thus seek to foster unfair advantages in commerce, which is ironically contrary to the Commerce Clause," the ruling noted.  It further stated that plaintiffs' claims of discriminatory treatment is an attempt to circumvent the Illinois statutory scheme designed to protect the Illinois public. 

"For over eight decades, primary state authority and a strong regulatory framework have been guiding principles of the three-tier system of beverage alcohol manufacture, distribution and sales.  The modern three-tier system enables American consumers to enjoy the widest selection of products available anywhere in the world, while guaranteeing appropriate regulatory oversight, efficient tax collection, as well as a commitment to social responsibility and opposition to underage access," said WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf.

A complete copy of Judge Der-Yeghiayan's ruling is here.  http://www.wswa.org/library/6-8-17_Opinion_MTD_Granted.pdf

"WSWA supports the rights of states to regulate alcohol within their borders as granted by the Twenty-first Amendment.  Judge Der-Yeghiayan's ruling includes strong language in support of a well-regulated three-tier system and the principle of primary state authority," Wolf added.  "This ruling is a powerful blow against those who seek to work around, not within, the nation's long-standing and consistently upheld beverage-alcohol laws."

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Legal pot and car crashes: Yes, there's a link 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:42:00 AM

 

By Ed LeefeldtMoneyWatch June 22, 2017, 12:01 AM

Does driving while high have any impact on auto accident rates? Legalized recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington correlates to about a 3 percent increase in auto collision claim frequencies compared to states without such legislation, according to a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) study. It's the first one the group has conducted since the drug went on sale legally.

"More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes," the study said.

The HLDI is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research organization that usually focuses on figuring out which cars are safest. The group is funded by auto insurance companies, which have a vested interest in not having to pay claims and -- of course -- hold a bias against impaired driving of any kind.

According to the HLDI, past researchers haven't been able to "definitively connect marijuana use with real-world crashes," and even a federal study failed to find such a link. "Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use have also been inconclusive," said the HLDI.

Instead, the group focused on three states -- Colorado, where legal marijuana retail sales started in 2014, as well as Oregon and Washington, where sales began in 2015 -- and compared them to the collision claims in neighboring states such as Nevada and Utah, parts of which now allow only medical marijuana. It also factored in statistics regarding the three states where recreational use is now legal from before it became available to the general public.

Colorado saw the largest estimated increase in claim frequency -- 14 percent more than its bordering states, while Washington state was 6 percent greater and Oregon had a 4 percent increase. Allowing for the total control group, "the combined effect for the three states was a smaller, but still significant at 3 percent," said HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

The group used collision claims because they are the most frequent kind insurers receive. Drivers file these claims for damage to their vehicle in a crash with an object or with another vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault, the HLDI said.

The HLDI said it's preparing for more of these studies and has already begun a "large-scale case-control study" in Oregon to find out if usage could be causing automotive injuries.

But the auto insurance industry's position on legalized marijuana is already crystal clear. "Worries that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates aren't misplaced," said David Zuby, chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "The HLDI's findings on the early experience in Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause."

 

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Illinois: Breakthru Beverage Group and Freixenet USA Expand Partnership in Illinois 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:35:00 AM

Source: Res Publica

June 22, 2017

 

Breakthru Beverage Group today announced that it is expanding its sales partnership with Freixenet USA. Beginning July 1, Breakthru will offer Freixenet USA's portfolio of premier wines in Illinois. The portfolio includes Freixenet, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Mia, René Barbier, Ferrer Family Wines, Deakin Estate, Finca Ferrer, and Katnook Estate.

 

"We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Breakthru in many markets, and we are excited to leverage their Illinois team's passion for selling fine wines on behalf of Freixenet USA. At Freixenet USA, we take great pride in our celebrated brands and heritage, and we look forward to strengthening our commitment to our partnership with Breakthru," said Tom Burnet, President of Freixenet USA.

 

Freixenet, a fifth-generation, family-run company founded in 1861, currently boasts the number one selling Cava in the world and the number two selling imported sparkling wine in the United States. In addition to the Illinois market, Breakthru currently distributes Freixenet USA's wines in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

 

"Breakthru is thrilled to expand our relationship with Freixenet USA and to bring their portfolio to one of the most important markets in the county," said Greg Baird, President and CEO of Breakthru Beverage Group. "As we continue to grow our portfolio in a strategic, meaningful way, we seek partners whose values are in line with those we hold at Breakthru. We have the highest respect for their commitment to produce high caliber wines and Cava at great value to consumers. We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with our partners at Freixenet."

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Op-ed: Founder of MADD says Utah's new drunk driving law is an unhelpful distraction 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

By Candace Lightner

Jun 17 2017

 

As the opioid crisis metastasizes and marijuana continues to be legalized across the country, drug use is on the rise. And as these substances become more common in everyday life, they also become more common on the road.

 

While drunk driving remains a serious concern, other threats are mounting on our roadways. According to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 43 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for some sort of drug, legal or illegal. And with the rise of smartphones and other gadgets, people are distracted more than ever while driving.

 

As the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) I can attest that there is a new kind of madness on the roads. And new approaches are needed to save lives.

 

Unfortunately, the necessary debate on how to solve these new challenges isn't happening in earnest. The traffic safety community is distracted by an issue that will do little to save lives: lowering the drunk driving arrest threshold from .08 to .05.

 

And they're distracting the public as well.

 

Back in the early years at MADD we focused on getting serious drunk drivers off the road. Believe it or not, back then someone who was pulled over for drunk driving might be sent on their way by an officer with little more than a casual "get home safe." As a result many lives were unnecessarily lost, including my daughter's. In the more than 35 years since MADD's founding, we have fought drunk driving ferociously and saved countless lives in the process.

 

But today, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction - with government agencies pushing states to arrest people for having little to drink before driving instead of pursuing strategies to tackle serious distraction and impairment. Anyone who works in traffic safety knows that most highway deaths are not caused by drivers with low blood alcohol content levels, but are the result of drivers with substance abuse disorders. Focusing finite resources on casual drinkers instead of drug and alcohol abusers is a miscalculation with deadly consequences.

 

Every dollar spent enforcing DUI laws against sober drivers is one not spent on getting the worst offenders off our roads. The effort that the Utah legislature is putting toward lowering the drunk driving arrest threshold - a "solution" without any real evidence to support its efficacy - would be better spent on meaningful solutions, like ensuring that serious drunks are installing ignition interlocks in their cars. According to a new report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation using government data, Utah has the second lowest ignition interlock compliance rate in the country. If the Utah Legislature focused on ensuring that more drunk drivers in the state were installing these devices as mandated, then Utah might really make some progress in its fight to make the roads safer.

 

I'm pleased that the organization I founded isn't one of the groups pursuing the new lower alcohol limit strategy. But that hasn't stopped states like Utah from passing legislation to arrest drivers who are at .05.

 

This has kicked off a national conversation about whether or not it makes sense to put someone in jail for not much more than a single drink (it doesn't). If we are getting into that level of impairment then we should logically be jailing people for cell phone use while driving. The debate needs to focus on how we're going to manage this new world of endlessly distracting gadgets and the legalization of marijuana. Nine states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and we don't have an agreed upon set of standards for how to gauge impairment or a reliable method for roadside testing for drugs in a person's system as we do with breathalyzers and alcohol. Developing these methods and creating more public awareness around drugged driving should be a top priority for our traffic safety officials.

 

I'm not suggesting that we lose our focus or commitment to fighting drunk driving. But we should be clear-eyed about the nature of today's problems.

 

Since 1980, when MADD was founded, drunk driving deaths have plummeted by more than 50 percent. The key to our success was public education. But it's a lot harder to get people's attention today than it was back then, which is all the more reason we shouldn't squander it on issues that don't maximize public safety impact.

 

The conversation on .05 is a distraction. And people are already distracted enough.

 

Candace Lightner is the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as well as founder and president of We Save Lives.

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Border businesses could see drop in sales 

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:27:00 PM

By: Aaron Eades

Posted: Jun 12, 2017 10:56 PM CDT

Updated: Jun 13, 2017 09:52 AM CDT

 

DANVILLE, Ill. and COVINGTON, Ind. (WCIA) -- Every day, people cross the border to escape Indiana's strict alcohol laws, but there's a chance they could change soon.

A poll taken last month revealed the majority of people in Indiana support relaxing the state's restrictions on beer, wine and liquor sales. But if that happens, businesses in Illinois could take a hit.

In Indiana, you can't buy alcohol on Sundays, and you can't buy cold beer in convenience stores. It's only sold warm.

Across the border in Illinois, you can buy cold beer seven days a week. Those in the Hoosier state say changing the rules is a matter of convenience, but for businesses at the border, it's a matter of profit.

At this convenience store on Lynch Road, clerk Kelly Gerling says she can barely keep enough cold beer on the shelves.

"We go through a lot of beer on Sundays," she says.

The store is right off I-74, right next to the border, and it's the right idea for a lot of Indiana drinkers.

"They don't even mess with the hot beer over there," says Gerling. "They will drive miles from Indiana to get here to get liquor."

A few miles away, the I & I State Line Tavern is only steps from the border. One of the bartenders says Indiana's laws give them plenty of business.

"I'd say people drive probably like an hour's drive to get here, just to buy beer on Sundays," says Tracie Matthias.

On a hot day, cold beer is a luxury on the Indiana side of the border, which is why many people are warming up to the idea of changing the law.

"I'm open to any kind of alcohol sales on Sunday," says Josh Rainey, of Covington.

A group of guys toasting the end of the workday say planning for the weekend can be tricky.

"Either have to plan ahead on Saturday if you want to drink or you have to go to the state line like we normally have to," says Rainey.

That's something they'd prefer not to do.

"It'd be a lot more convenient than running to Illinois to get it," says Roger Bowling. "If something comes up, you need alcohol, you got to run over there instead of running four miles the other way."

Not everyone thinks convenience should be the goal. Chuck Whitaker says he likes the status quo, pointing out the dangers of alcoholism and driving drunk.

"I don't think we need it," he says. "People can get all the alcohol they want and store it in their house if they want it."

The majority of people in Indiana may not want to have to stock up. It's an idea Illinois' border business owners won't necessarily drink to.

"I'm sure it concerns the owners quite a bit," says Matthias. "And it does concern me too, because that is a lot of the business that we get on Sundays."

The cold beer and Sunday alcohol sales debates have been heating up in Indiana this year. Several organizations are pressuring state lawmakers to make a change. Border business owners will have to wait to see what happens.

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Illinois Court Scores One for Three-Tier System 

Friday, June 16, 2017 4:40:00 PM

Source: Wine & Spirits Daily

June 13th

 Late last week a judge for the US District Court of Illinois sided with the state and its wholesalers in dismissing a case that challenged the state's direct-to-consumer shipping laws.

 Recall, Lebamoff Enterprises, a retailer in Indiana, filed suit against the state last year over the Illinois Liquor Control Act of '34 (ILCA), which among other things, prevents out-of-state retailers from selling and shipping wine directly to Illinois residents. Lebamoff argued the law is in violation of the Commerce Clause, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause because in-state retailers are allowed to ship DTC.

 According to the plaintiff, the case is based on the same principles as the Granholm case, which determined state direct-to-consumer wine shipping laws could not discriminate between in- and out-of-state producers.

 In his dismissal of the case, the judge claims Lebamoff's Commerce Clause argument "fails at the most basic starting point," because they cannot show that the ILCA "provides for differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests."

 The judge explained that the difference between Granholm and this case, is that in the Granholm case, allowing in-state suppliers to ship directly to consumers, while denying out-of-state retailers the same privilege did constitute preferential treatment. But in this case, Illinois law requires "all alcohol sold in Illinois by retailers directly to Illinois consumers must pass through the three-tier system," regardless of where the retailer is located, i.e., no discrimination.

 "Unlike in-state retailers who have obtained alcohol under the three-tier regulation system, certain out-of-state retailers...have not proceeded through the regulatory system in place to protect the Illinois public from harm," he continued. 

 

Now we wait to see if there will be an appeal.

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ABL Applauds Congress for Keeping Pro-Competitive Debit Card Swipe Fee Policy in Place 

Monday, June 12, 2017 12:49:00 PM

Source: ABL

June 9, 2017

 Bethesda, MD - American Beverage Licenses (ABL) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which keeps pro-competitive debit card swipe fee policies in place and aids retailers and consumers in the battle against excessive swipe fees.

 "On behalf of the nearly 15,000 independent bar, tavern and package store owners ABL represents, I would like to thank members of Congress for their determined efforts during the legislative process to listen to the concerns of the beverage retailer community and support a bill that maintains laws that have helped level the debit card routing market, and takes into account runaway swipe fees," said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

 The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10), sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was passed by the House on June 8, 2017 with a 233-186 vote.  The bill received widespread attention as the initial draft included language that would have repealed the consumer and small business measures included in the Durbin Amendment. Repealing or weakening the swipe fee law would have removed competition from the debit routing market, and eliminated other reforms that have benefitted consumers by making transactions not only less expensive, but also more secure. 

 ABL members and state affiliates played an important role in this spring's swipe fee debate, responding to ABL's call to action and opposing the repeal of the Durbin Amendment. Their grassroots advocacy amplified the chorus of American retail businesses that was heard loud and clear across Capitol Hill.

 "This is an important win for our members because it's a bottom line issue that affects their businesses and their customers," said Bodnovich.  "An effort like this is a good reminder that beverage licensees will stand up for their interests on Capitol Hill and continue to play an important role in policy debates that affect their businesses."

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ABL Applauds Congress for Keeping Pro-Competitive Debit Card Swipe Fee Policy in Place 

Monday, June 12, 2017 9:11:00 AM
Posted on June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017 – Bethesda, MD – American Beverage Licenses (ABL) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which keeps pro-competitive debit card swipe fee policies in place and aids retailers and consumers in the battle against excessive swipe fees.

“On behalf of the nearly 15,000 independent bar, tavern and package store owners ABL represents, I would like to thank members of Congress for their determined efforts during the legislative process to listen to the concerns of the beverage retailer community and support a bill that maintains laws that have helped level the debit card routing market, and takes into account runaway swipe fees,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10), sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was passed by the House on June 8, 2017 with a 233-186 vote. The bill received widespread attention as the initial draft included language that would have repealed the consumer and small business measures included in the Durbin Amendment. Repealing or weakening the swipe fee law would have removed competition from the debit routing market, and eliminated other reforms that have benefitted consumers by making transactions not only less expensive, but also more secure.

ABL members and state affiliates played an important role in this spring’s swipe fee debate, responding to ABL’s call to action and opposing the repeal of the Durbin Amendment. Their grassroots advocacy amplified the chorus of American retail businesses that was heard loud and clear across Capitol Hill.

“This is an important win for our members because it’s a bottom line issue that affects their businesses and their customers,” said Bodnovich. “An effort like this is a good reminder that beverage licensees will stand up for their interests on Capitol Hill and continue to play an important role in policy debates that affect their businesses.”

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2018 ABL Annual Meeting 

Monday, June 12, 2017 9:02:00 AM
Save-the-Date
Join ABL in New Orleans for the 
2018 ABL Annual Meeting

Additional information will be announced in the coming months. 
 
Be sure to visit www.ablusa.org for all the latest details!
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