News

New Lenox Village Board close to vote on video gaming 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012 10:54:39 AM

By Barbara Dargis Special to the Tribune Wednesday at 3:57 p.m.

New Lenox trustees on May 29 discussed  whether or not the village should opt out of the state’s Video Gaming Act, making it illegal for bar and restaurant owners to have video poker machines in their businesses.

A final vote is expected at the June 11 regular meeting.

As of mid-May, more than 250 communities in the state either already have ordinances banning the gaming terminals or have opted out of the state’s Video Gaming Act, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s website. The program was approved by lawmakers in 2009 to raise funds for infrastructure projects throughout the state. The state’s gaming board began accepting applications for video poker licenses from businesses last month.

Of the seven-member New Lenox Village Board, three trustees—including the mayor—expressed opposition to video gaming, one trustee remains undecided, and three voiced no opinion at all. 

Trustee Ray Tuminello characterized the state’s involvement with video poker games as a “scam” to take money from residents.

The games are powered with software that reports all games and winnings to the state, and the state is responsible for turning winnings back to the liquor-serving business and to the municipality.                                                                            

Mayor Tim Baldermann and Trustee Nancy Dye focused their attention on the state’s ability to actually follow through on its obligation to turn 30 percent of the profits back to the business owners and five percent of the profits back to the hosting municipality.  “The state of Illinois cannot be trusted on what it promises,” Baldermann said.

Dye accused the state of extending “false hope” and went on to predict that any business that would expect to receive money from the state under these circumstances “will never get exactly as they are promised.”

While there were several village residents—including a spokeswoman from the New Lenox United Methodist Church—who spoke against allowing video poker machines, there were an equal number who spoke to support it.  Mary Goines, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, joined Jim Potter, owner of the local White Horse, who reminded board members that business stand to gain money and customers with the machines.

 In the event that New Lenox decides to ban video gambling, the bars and restaurants that currently have electronic poker games that are not considered gambling will be banned as well.  That is not a pleasant prospect for the New Lenox VFW, according to Bill Walter.

He said that organization stands to lose on both counts.  “We will lose a considerable amount of money and clients,” Walter said.

But several residents urged the board to opt out of the program.  “It is wrong to get money from gambling,” said Aija Bjorklund, a member of the United Methodist Church. 

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Moving Towards Zero Tolerance: DADSS and Other Anti-Alcohol Policies 

Thursday, May 31, 2012 11:26:36 AM

Source: ABI

May 30th

During a two-day forum hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this month, activists including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Institute for Behavior and Health urged the NTSB to recommend several anti-alcohol policies, including a lower legal limit, alcohol advertising restrictions, sobriety checkpoints, elimination of "drink responsibly, drive responsibly" messaging, and interlocks for first-time offenders. The NTSB will use the information heard at the forum when it makes its recommendations to federal and state lawmakers later this year.

These activists repeatedly called for the NTSB to recommend dramatic increases to funding for the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program, either by including the same funding level ($24 million over two years) in the Senate highway bill, or by adopting the ROADS SAFE bills currently pending in the House and Senate.

Phase I of the DADSS program was completed as researchers hoped; prototype testing indicated that there are potential technologies that ultimately could function non-invasively in a vehicle environment to measure a driver's BAC. The presentation detailed the two prototypes that passed Phase I earlier this year and are currently being pursued in Phase II:

Breath-Based Technology (Autoliv): uses carbon dioxide to measure breath dilution of alcohol;

Touch-Based Technology (Takata-TruTouch): uses a touchpad interface and infrared light to determine alcohol concentration.

Right now, both prototypes are unable to meet the DADSS stated standards of time, accuracy, and precision. However, researchers have identified the technological modifications needed to meet the DADSS standards.

The DADSS program is on track to develop research vehicles to demonstrate the technologies in-car by the second half of 2013. The representative from DADSS developers indicated that if the $24 million in funding is granted, it would greatly accelerate the development timeline.

Activists Move Towards Zero Tolerance

In addition to providing an update on the DADSS program's progress, the NTSB forum revealed another disturbing trend: the activist push to lower the legal BAC level for driving. NTSB panelists repeatedly stated that the only safe BAC level for driving is zero percent. The NTSB also heard presentations from international traffic officials who stressed the supposed impact a 0.05 percent legal limit has had on reducing traffic fatalities outside the United States. (The deaths cannot be directly attributed to a lower legal limit; falls in fatalities coincided with overall declines in traffic fatalities and other anti-drunk driving policies.)

Disturbingly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) claimed that 7,082 lives could be saved each year by lowering the legal limit below 0.08 percent and 10,600 lives could be saved by enacting a zero tolerance policy. Somehow, IIHS predicts that more drivers will be deterred from drunk driving by a 0.0 percent legal limit than an alcohol detector installed on every vehicle. (IIHS projects that installing alcohol detection devices in all cars would save 8,000 lives per year.)

During the forum, activists urged adoption of several other anti-drinking policies:

Increase use of sobriety checkpoints-PIRE, MADD, IIHS, and international representatives reiterated the importance of checkpoints. They stated that even if zero drunk drivers are caught, checkpoints are still effective.

Require ignition interlocks for ALL drunk drivers-activists frequently stated that ignition interlocks should be required for all drunk drivers, stating that the hard-core drunk drivers (whom data show cause the majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities) are only a "small fraction" of the drunk driving problem.

Eliminate of "drink responsibly, drive responsibly"-activists urged beverage companies to change messaging to "drive drug and alcohol free."

Adopt additional restrictions and bans on alcohol advertisements-panelists urge regulation of where and how many alcohol advertisements can be shown.

Impose automatic penalties for drunk driving-to reduce the burden on the courts, international panelists recommended taking judicial discretion out of sentencing and instead imposing automatic sanctions based on breath test results.

Utilize random breath testing-Australian and European representatives credited their countries' policy of randomly testing drivers' BAC levels (without cause) and lowering the legal BAC limit with reducing the countries' drunk driving fatalities. Australia's representative touted that 30 percent of Australians surveyed had been subject to a random breathalyzer test within the last six months. Finland reported stopping 42 percent of its population each year, finding only 0.9 percent above the 0.05 percent legal limit.

Eliminate breath test refusals-panelist recommended imposing heavy penalties on individuals who refuse a breathalyzer test and making it easier to obtain blood test warrants.

Increase server training-panelists emphasized the importance of educating servers to successfully identify intoxicated individuals and refuse additional service.

ABI's Pushback

In addition to our continued efforts to keep DADSS funding out of the highway bill, ABI will send our own list of recommendations to the NTSB:

Target interlocks at the hard-core drunk drivers (>0.15 BAC and repeat offenders)-the best way to utilize interlocks is to focus their use on those who cause the majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and benefit the most from the harshest punishment.

Maintain the 0.08 legal limit-alcohol impacts every individual differently and state laws already allow police to arrest drivers with BACs under 0.08 who appear too intoxicated to drive safely. Charging all drivers at 0.05 with a crime is unreasonable.

Increase use of saturation patrols-instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on costly and ineffective sobriety checkpoints, increased saturation patrols catch drunk, drowsy, distracted, and speeding drivers.

Eliminate funding for the DADSS program-instead of spending millions forcing drivers to prove their sobriety, dedicate funding to treatment programs for the chronic alcohol abusers who create and comprise the real drunk driving problem.

Focus on reducing driver distraction-many studies show that driving while talking on a hands-free cellphone, texting, or drowsy is more dangerous than driving with a 0.08 BAC. Focusing on distracted driving rather than lowering the legal limit is a more effective way of reducing traffic fatalities.

 

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Debit Card Transaction Fees: Sen. Durbin Supports Merchants' Suit Against Fed 

Friday, May 25, 2012 5:09:06 PM

 


by Staff Reporter

 

WASHINGTON-- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) has filed an amicus curiae brief that supports a lawsuit brought by the National Restaurant Association and other merchant groups against the Fed Board of Governors' debit card transaction-fee regulations.

The Illinois senator authored an amendment to the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that gave the Federal Reserve System's board the task of establishing "reasonable and proportional" debit card interchange price controls, which apply to card issuers with more than $10 billion in assets. The lawsuit, filed last fall, accuses the Fed of failing to follow the law in carrying out this task. It asks the U.S. District Court here for a declaratory judgment requiring the Fed to revisit and rectify its rulemaking. | SEE STORY

In Durbin's friend-of-the-court brief, which NRA describes as "scathing," he agreed with the plaintiffs that the present regulation does not reflect Congress's intent in enacting a law whose purpose was to make sure that debit-card "swipe fees" are reasonable and proportional to the cost of processing debit transactions. It sought also to promote competition among payment card networks and banks that issue debit cards.

Sen. Durbin's brief "highlights bad behavior by payment card networks, and the negative impact on small-ticket debit transactions," NRA reported.

The Fed's rule, as written, restricts large banks to a swipe fee of 21¢ per transaction, plus a portion of the transaction amount. The association pointed out that, although the new cap is less than the 44¢ average fee merchants paid before the law took effect, it has had a "perverse effect" on a segment of merchants. For example, quick-service restaurant operators with low average ticket prices have seen their rates increase, because Visa and MasterCard raised their rates to the new cap.

Last year, the National Automatic Merchandising Association warned that the Dodd-Frank legislation's new rules on debit card fees will deliver a damaging blow to the vending industry, which almost always processes small-ticket transactions when cashless payment services are available. | SEE STORY

NRA quoted Durbin as describing as "absurd" a situation in which card networks can charge a 22¢ interchange fee for processing a debit-card purchase of a 10¢ pencil.

The Fed's initial proposal for a 12¢ debit swipe-fee cap was more consistent with what Congress intended, Durbin said. But the financial services industry influenced the Fed's board to issue a final rule that deviated from Congress's intent, he charged. Congress never intended to allow bankcard companies to include fraud losses, network processing fees and other costs in their standard, as the rule allows, he explained. He thus is joining the plaintiffs in arguing that the Fed must adjust its rule.

The Federal Reserve has until June 1 to submit its response, after which a court date will be scheduled.

In addition to the National Restaurant Association, the suit was brought by Boscov's Department Store, the Food Marketing Institute, Miller Oil Co., NACS (formerly the National Association of Convenience Stores) and the National Retail Federation.

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Beverage association invites communication before gaming machines' arrival 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:54:09 AM

Craig Sterrett
Editor

As the state moves toward rolling out casino-style gaming machines for bars and other establishments in communities that don’t ban them, an organized group of business operators are having a series of meetings with local officials.
Some members of Illinois Licensed Beverage Association chapter 76 met last week at Spring Creek Golf Course with a group including Spring Valley police chief Kevin Sangston, Spring Valley Mayor Cliff Banks, Bureau County sheriff John Thompson, one Granville official, Princeton police chief Tom Root, Princeton commissioner and Community Partners Against Substance Abuse Coalition representative Terry Madsen and CPASA chairman Dawn Conerton.
ILBA chapter president Norm Clark, who currently is not operating a tavern or restaurant, said the group is reaching out to public officials so the parties have open lines of communications.
Here’s one topic of discussion: For years, the ILBA has been providing Beverage Alcohol Seller and Server Education and Training for a fee that is paid either by the tavern owner, package liquor store or by bartenders and employees themselves. CPASA recently started providing training for free, benefiting from state grants, and Clark believes the ILBA has lost some members in the Princeton area because of that.
Madsen said CPASA has the goal of bringing about “environmental and systemic change” and training people who work around alcohol helps meet that goal.
Clark said while CPASA and the Illinois Liquor Commission can provide the training by using grant funds, the ILBA does not benefit from such funds. Clark said he alerted state ILBA leaders about the discrepancy so they can try to find a solution.
“It’s not like we’re in competition … they’re way more than willing to work with us and us to work with them,” Clark said, adding that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the ILBA to continue providing the training — even though ILBA has people trained to do the training — if state or community organizations will do it at no cost to trainees. “The whole goal is just to get people trained, and I think that’s pretty much how CPASA feels about it as well.”
He said the ILBA also wants to “open up communications with police and local officials. Madsen said no owners of establishments that are in his jurisdiction as a Princeton commissioner were at the meeting last week.
Madsen said he learned during the meeting more about the state allowing new casino-style electronic gambling in taverns and other establishments.
Late in the Spring Valley meeting, Clark said the electronic gaming in Illinois has “been a long time coming. The wrinkles still have not been ironed out.”
Later he said it’s his understanding the state should have a computerized “central server” operating to monitor casino-style games in August. He also said he believes once the machines linked to the state are brought into a place, owners will have to remove the video poker machines currently in many bars “for amusement purposes only” or face felony charges.
Thompson, Bureau County sheriff, said another theme he heard from the ILBA was concern about government overreaching at times and effects of that on local businesses. He said he “didn’t sense” that the beverage sellers were trying to get officials to make commitments to them but rather to open lines of communication.
The association chapter stretches from Mendota and Compton on the north to Ottawa and Marseilles on the east and Princeton on the west. Clark said the group is looking at getting the Streator area more involved. He also said sellers and servers of any beverages, not just alcoholic beverages, can join.
The meeting scheduled a June 12 meeting at Ladd Lanes and planned to invite officials from northeastern Bureau County.

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State closer to ruling on Busch's stake in local distributor 

Monday, May 14, 2012 10:26:42 AM

Source: Chicago Tribune

By Emily Bryson York

May 11, 2012

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission came one step closer to a decision as to whether Anheuser-Busch may continue to hold a stake in City Beverage, its largest local distributor.

According to 12 "findings" made by the commission Wednesday and released in writing Friday, the group said or reiterated, among other things: that it determined in 2010 that the company may not own an Illinois distributor, the company owned all or parts of state distributorships until 2009 through the reissuance of licenses, that the company has received conflicting information from the ILCC over the years, and that commission does have authority to sanction the company and issue or revoke a license in this matter.

These findings could be used to decide whether Anheuser-Busch may keep, or be forced to sell, its stake in City Beverage. The decision may come as soon as this summer, an ILCC spokeswoman said.

"Anheuser-Busch maintains its 30 percent interest in City Beverage," Gary Rutledge, the firm's North American general counsel, said in a statement. "Our ownership has helped bring competition to the beer market in Chicago and has supported expanded choices in beer."

The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, a lobbying group for distributors, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the end of Prohibition, the alcohol industry has been divided into three groups: manufacturers who make products, distributors who collect taxes and deliver products to stores and retailers who sell it. State governments and distributors argue the so-called "three-tier system" guards against unsafe products and sales to minors. Some manufacturers argue that the system is inefficient and antiquated.

The world's largest beer company, owned by Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-BuschInBev, has been working to purchase distributorships, or sell directly to retailers, in a number of areas throughout the country. Illinois became a battleground in 2010 when City Beverage went up for sale.

When Anheuser-Busch sought to buy the distributorship outright, the liquor commission forbade the sale. BDT Capital, an investment firm founded owned by Byron Trott, bought the company instead.

A lawsuit and a battle in the state legislature followed, based on the assertion that Anheuser-Busch should be allowed to self-distribute in Illinois because small craft brewers are often allowed to do so. Last summer the General Assembly responded with limits for self-distribution in Illinois.

 

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Wirtz Beverage Illinois  

Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:36:43 PM

Wirtz Beverage Illinois Opens the Doors to State-of-the-Art Office, Training, Warehouse and Distribution Center in Cicero, IL

Source: Respublica

May 3rd

Wirtz Beverage Illinois, a leading distributor of fine wine and spirits, opened the doors of a 605,000 square foot, multi-use training and distribution center. The state-of-the-art facility includes corporate offices, conference centers, training facilities and 500,000 square feet of warehouse space.

"The new facility serves as more than warehouse and office space," said Julian Burzynski, Senior Vice President, Wirtz Beverage Illinois. "It's taking everything we do and bringing it together under one roof. Very few distributors in the country have been able to put the best of everything - sales, marketing, operations, logistics, technology and training - together in this way. Plus, it's close to the airport and close to the city. Collectively, we think it's a real point of differentiation and advantage for Wirtz Beverage and its partners."

The facility's new warehouse has the capacity to hold 2.5 million cases of wine and spirits and includes a 25,000 square foot temperature-controlled wine storage facility, the largest in the country. The advanced conveyor system sorts and moves up to 10,000 cases per hour to 39 shipping and receiving bays. The building will serve as the central headquarters for nearly 1,000 Wirtz Beverage Illinois employees and 1,500 premier beverage products.

Two stories of corporate offices, a full gym with locker rooms for employees and a company-cafeteria, emphasizing healthy fare, also complement the facility. The Alchemy Room, designed by chefs, sommeliers and mixologists, features a commercial kitchen and demonstration bar with high-definition video screens for training, education and beverage development. The facility was developed by Wirtz Realty Corporation, a subsidiary of Wirtz Corporation, in thirteen months. A public plaza, pedestrian path and commercial outlots join the facility on 66 acres of land formally known as Sportsman's Park Race Track.

"From a development standpoint, this was a significant project," said Anthony Iatarola, Senior Vice President, Wirtz Realty Corporation, project developer. "We were fortunate to have the cooperation and support of everyone from the Town of Cicero, Cook County and the State of Illinois. Because of that, we were able to complete it on budget and ahead of schedule. "

To celebrate the grand opening, Wirtz Beverage Illinois and Wirtz Realty co-hosted an evening reception for approximately 400 guests, ranging from supplier partners from around the world, local dignitaries and sports and media executives, to government officials and Chicago Blackhawk Ambassadors.

The festivities included tours of the 605,000 square foot facility as well as cooking and cocktail demonstrations in The Alchemy Room. A special time capsule ceremony was also in honor of the company's past, present and future.

Among the items placed into the capsule to be opened in 2045, marking the 100th year Anniversary of the Wirtz family's entrance to the beverage business, were:

· Family and historic photos from 1945-current day

· Commemorative items from wine and spirits suppliers, including one-of-a-kind etched bottles

· A Chicago Blackhawk Hockey Team jersey signed by the 2011-2012 team

· A proclamation from the State of Illinois declaring May 2, 2012 Wirtz Beverage Group Day

· A DVD and brief summary chronicling the project from inception to the opening

Wirtz Beverage Illinois is a member of the Wirtz Corporation family of companies. Wirtz Corporation has diversified holdings in real estate, insurance, banking, entertainment and sports, including the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Wirtz Corporation will maintain its corporate headquarters at 680 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

 

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Beer battle between wholesalers, brewers 

Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:34:32 PM

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

BY TIM LOGAN

May 6, 2012

There's a rumble brewing over how you get your beer. And the newest front has opened right in the backyard of America's biggest brewer.

Beer wholesalers - the people who truck the suds from brewery to store shelf - are pushing a bill in the Missouri Legislature that would protect their role as middlemen, by banning brewers from owning wholesalers and codifying the industry's vaunted three-tier distribution system into state law.

It's a pre-emptive strike against Anheuser-Busch InBev, which wants to streamline its complex distribution network, and a sign of increased tension between the big brewer and the people who deliver its product. The fallout from that dispute could eventually affect everything from the price of beer to what brands are on the shelf.

While state laws vary, the three-tier system - in which separate companies make beer, ship it, and sell it to consumers - has been in place since the end of Prohibition, when it was designed to rein in aggressive sales tactics and streamline regulation. The system is in sharp contrast to other consumer goods - Procter & Gamble, for instance, sells toothpaste and detergent straight to Walmart - and unique in the global beer industry.

Anheuser-Busch has more than 500 distributors across the country - five in the St. Louis area - nearly all of which are independent companies with an exclusive contract to sell A-B beer in a certain geographical area. It's a lucrative franchise; distributors typically take about $4 per case, according to calculations by Beer Business Daily. And in recent years, the so-called "red network" of A-B wholesalers has won extra profits by shedding exclusivity agreements and carrying more craft beer, with higher margins and few extra costs.

But Anheuser-Busch InBev has started to push back, encouraging wholesalers to consolidate, urging tighter "alignment" with the brewery and blasting those who sell non-A-B products against A-B in neighboring markets.

"I'm loyal to my wholesalers," A-B InBev North American president Luiz Edmond told the Wall Street Journal in March. "Why would I not expect the same loyalty to me?"

At stake is a lot of money.

Matter of efficiency

Wall Street analysts say more efficient distribution could play a big role in A-B InBev's target of $1 billion in U.S. cost savings. By buying out the middleman and self-distributing, the brewery could tap wholesaler profits estimated at about $1 a case, and centralize functions such as phone operations and truck maintenance.

"It's a good way to squeeze out costs," said Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily.

These kind of acquisitions are legal in about 20 states, and A-B InBev already owns 14 distributorships - which it calls "branches" - including some in big, if not especially profitable, markets such as New York and Los Angeles. It has bought two just since December, with a third deal pending in Seattle.

A-B InBev is likely to keep buying wholesalers where it can, and to encourage consolidation where it can't, wrote Tony Bucalo, an analyst with the Spanish bank Santander, in a research note last month. All in a bid to drive down costs.

"We estimate that ABI could hypothetically control nearly 50 percent of its distribution, compared to 8 percent today," Bucalo wrote. "We believe it will continue to move in that direction."

But A-B's "costs" are distributors' profits, and distributors are pushing back.

Even as the brewer has talked of consolidation, wholesaler groups are resisting. They warn of job cuts and short-term profit-taking. They argue that the big brewer could restrict sales of other brands at its branches, making it harder for craft beers and imports to find a market.

Those arguments have gained traction in state legislatures. In the past two years, laws banning self-distribution have been passed in Louisiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois - where lawmakers acted after A-B InBev's attempt to buy a majority stake in its Chicago distributorship prompted a federal lawsuit.

In Missouri, though, the idea has been a tougher sell. The big brewer's clout in Jefferson City has long been the stuff of legend. Even today it wields considerable influence, employing nine lobbyists and doling out more than $340,000 in political donations statewide in 2011, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Last year, a bill blocking brewery ownership of distributors went nowhere. So far this spring, it has received a hearing and the blessing of a committee in the Senate, but not in the House.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, did not return calls seeking comment, nor did local Anheuser-Busch distributors, who have been silent on the matter. But Brian Gelner, vice president of Premium Beverage, a MillerCoors distributor in Springfield, and legislative chairman of the Missouri Beer Wholesalers Association, said he was hopeful that the bill would at least get to a full floor vote.

"The three-tier system has been a really good system," Gelner said. "Anything that changes that by taking one tier out hurts the whole industry."

Flexing muscles

A-B says it agrees on the value of three tiers, and insists it has no plans to buy Missouri wholesalers. But the brewery says it wants the option to do so if necessary, and is lobbying against the bill.

"We support keeping the existing system in place because it works and fosters competition," said Mark Bordas, A-B's regional vice president for state affairs, in a statement. "This system for many years has allowed for brewers to own a wholesaler in Missouri. If a wholesaler decides to sell, and if it makes sense for us to buy, our ability to own a wholesaler assures that our products are able to strongly compete."

Some say this is a lot of fuss about very little.

Joe Thompson is president of Georgia-based Independent Beverage Group, which helps broker wholesaler acquisitions. When the owner of an A-B house wants to sell, he said, A-B is always a potential buyer - in the states where it's allowed - but just one of many. And while the big brewer usually has right of first refusal in its network, distributors are free to take the best offer.

The real reason for all this push-back, Thompson said, is that many wholesalers don't want to go up against the deep pockets of the brewery, which could easily undercut them on price.

"They'd rather compete against you or me than Anheuser-Busch," said Thompson, who is representing Seattle-based K&L Distributors in its sale to A-B. "Fundamentally, it's just that they don't want a giant in their neighborhood."

But others who have been watching this unfold say the distributors' worries are well-founded.

From Chief Executive Carlos Brito on down, A-B InBev executives have made clear they have plans to save money on wholesaling, said John Conlin, a distribution consultant in Denver. And the more states where A-B owns wholesalers, the less leverage the stand-alone outfits will have.

Whatever happens in Jefferson City and elsewhere, Conlin said, the long-cozy relationship between the people who make Budweiser and the people who ship it is changing, perhaps for good.

"A-B has been flexing its muscles lately," he said. "And there's a lot of fear out there right now."

 

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America's Beer Distributors Celebrate May as Tavern Month 

Monday, May 07, 2012 10:01:06 AM

America's Independent, Licensed Beer Distributors Celebrate Independent, Licensed Taverns

Source: NBWA

Apr 30th

Throughout the month of May, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) will recognize Tavern Month, a celebration of the many licensed bars and taverns that provide hundreds of thousands of jobs to hardworking men and women and enrich America's social culture.

Bar and tavern owners work together with beer distributors in communities in every state across the country to provide responsible service and sales. Beer distributors and tavern owners support server training programs, ID checks and the effective state-based system of alcohol regulation.

"It's a great American tradition for adults to gather with friends or colleagues to enjoy a beer in their local bar or tavern," said NBWA President Craig Purser. "America's licensed beer distributors are proud to work hand-in-hand with licensed retailers, like bars and taverns, to safely provide consumers from coast to coast with an unparalleled choice and variety of beer - more than 13,000 different labels. Beer distributors are excited to partner with bar and tavern owners as part of a system that helps new brands get to market and offers consumers their choice of the largest international brands and the smallest local brews all on the same menu and bar tap."

Beer distributors and taverns are key components of the state-based system for alcohol control in the United States, which works to ensure that only consumers of legal drinking age receive fresh, safe beer and are served in moderation.

"Just like beer distributors, America's taverns and bars are local businesses providing tens of thousands of jobs in every state across the country," said John Bodnovich, Executive Director of American Beverage Licensees, the nation's largest bar and tavern trade association. "Licensed beverage retailers are proud to work with NBWA and its members to highlight the cultural and economic importance of our industry by celebrating Tavern Month this May."

 

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Nanny Staters want alcohol-detection devices in all cars 

Friday, April 27, 2012 4:54:57 PM

Source: LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

By SARAH LONGWELL

Apr. 25, 2012

Given all of the recent discussion of federal deficits, you might be surprised to learn that advocates of the Nanny State now want to spend 24 million of your taxpayer dollars in an effort to stop you from having a glass of wine with dinner before you get behind the wheel.

The recently passed Senate highway bill contains provisions heavily supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving that would spend your money on the further development of an alcohol-detection device that would eventually become standard in all cars. Known as DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detector System for Safety), the technology uses a variety of sensors to determine the blood alcohol content of drivers through their skin and breath.

While some officials are denying their intention to put this intrusive technology in all cars, the Department of Transportation is on record as stating that "the goal over time is to equip all passenger vehicles in the United States with the technology." MADD's president admits that the organization wants to see the devices as standard in vehicles as seat belts or air bags.

Once installed, proponents claim these devices will ensure those with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08 percent can't drive - if that were case, our industry could happily support the technology.

Unfortunately, these devices will be calibrated to be set well below the legal limit. Why? Basic physiology. It can take a couple of hours for a person to reach peak blood alcohol content after he stops drinking. This means that you could have five drinks and still have a blood alcohol content below 0.08 when you started your car. But your blood alcohol level would continue to rise and you could cross the 0.08 legal threshold while you were driving and rise to levels well beyond the legal limit.

Should that driver then get into an automobile accident, DADSS manufacturers and car companies could both be held legally liable in civil cases, at the very least. To avoid such litigation, the alcohol detection devices will have to be calibrated well below the legal limit and could be set as low as 0.02, the blood alcohol content level most individuals reach after only one drink.

The political effort to put alcohol sensing technology in all cars is part of a larger campaign to quash social drinking. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both pushed for lowering the legal limit to 0.05.

Leaving biology aside, let's consider mechanics for a second: Even if these devices meet Six Sigma standards - i.e., they meet the necessary requirements for widespread installation by working properly 99.999966 percent of the time - there will still be 4,000 misreadings per day. That's thousands of people stranded on a daily basis, unable to start their cars - or worse, drunken drivers who are able to get behind the wheel.

Given that our country is more than $15.5 trillion in debt, we shouldn't be using government money - our tax dollars - on the development of a device that will make cars more expensive to buy and maintain, increase the unreliability of our automobiles and make it impossible to enjoy a single drink before driving.

Sarah Longwell is the managing director of the American Beverage Institute, an association of restaurants committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages.

 

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Illinois Governor Backs $1-per-Pack Cigarette Tax Hike 

Monday, April 23, 2012 10:04:03 AM
May not have support of General Assembly

CSP Daily News |

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --A $1-per-pack increase in Illinois’ cigarette tax, combined with extensive program cuts and a major reduction in Medicaid payments to medical providers, anchor Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close a $2.7 billion gap in the program, according to a report in the State Journal Register.

Quinn outlined his proposal Thursday, after a working group of state lawmakers failed to come up with a plan that covers the entire $2.7 billion.

Quinn wants to raise the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack. Coupled with federal matching funds, that would produce $675 million for Medicaid, according to the report.

Illinois Gov. Pat QuinnQuinn said the state’s 96-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes is 32nd in the country. Raising the tax, he said, will encourage people either to quit smoking or not start.

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said he doesn’t think the cigarette tax hike will pass the General Assembly.

“The governor is waving the white flag and saying we’re really not going to change the system much and we’re going to go ahead and raise taxes,” Righter said.

If the $2.7 billion hole isn’t plugged one way or another, Quinn said, the difference will have to come out of other state spending, like schools or public safety.

“Members of the General Assembly may not be wildly excited about this plan, but it is necessary,” he said. “I think the folks who are saying no to that ought to rethink their position.”

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