Fast-food chains have discovered what will bring customers back: alcohol 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 1:05:00 PM

Source: Quartz

Chase Purdy

May 16, 2017


Burger King wants to serve booze alongside its Whopper cheeseburgers at another of its locations in New York City-a bold move for the burger chain and a clear sign that your favorite fast food joints are increasingly looking to add alcohol to their menus.


Fast food companies are trying to reinvent themselves in order to compete more effectively against fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread Company, which generally offer more choices and customization in ordering. Same-store sales at McDonald's, in particular, have been shrinking for several quarters in a row now.


But aside from Chipotle Mexican Grill and their margaritas, most fast food is a dry affair. The industry needs new ideas to stay competitive, and alcohol offers a unique opportunity to stay ahead of the curve.


More and more, fast food giants such as Burger King and Taco Bell are testing how consumers respond to the option of buying beer with their burgers. Burger King already offers beer at one of its downtown Manhattan locations, and in a few in the United Kingdom.


Burger King isn't the only fast food chain flirting with putting alcohol on its menu. Several new Taco Bell restaurants in Canada will offer beer this summer when they open as a way to test consumer interest in the sudsy beverage. The concept is akin to the few "cantina" style Taco Bells in the United States, which already offer alcoholic drinks. The hope is that adding booze to the menu will encourage people to sit in the restaurants longer and, of course, spend more money. There's even been talk of serving margaritas at a Canadian location.


Adding liquor to the menu is no easy task, due to the many legal restrictions. No underage employees are allowed to handle the alcohol, creating an extra layer of in-store regulation that managers are responsible for. Such drinks also must be consumed on the premise of the restaurants and in clear cups only. Customers are not permitted to take the drinks to-go. (Though there are some areas of the US, including New Orleans, where customers can take open alcohol containers onto the street.)


Even if individual restaurants are prepared to oversee and manage the complications of having a liquor license, obtaining one remains a hurdle. In New York City, for instance, Burger King's request will fall to a state liquor authority board, which processes many requests at any given time.


Whether the new Burger King request will be approved remains to be seen. But if booze is added to more fast food menus, expect your favorite quick-serve burger joint to become a new happy hour contender.

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Impaired lawmaking 

Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:49:00 AM

Common sense goes tipsy with a new Utah drunken-driving statute


Source: The Washington Times

By Richard Berman

May 8, 2017




The federal government is coming after your right to have a couple of beers at a ball game or split a bottle of wine at dinner. The first state to fall: Utah.


To recount, a major dust-up over drunk driving took place in the Utah state legislature several weeks ago. The instigator was the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).


One sympathetic side included the governor and a junior House member, Rep. Norman Thurston, who endorsed arresting and ruining the lives of people for driving with low amounts of alcohol - just a .05 blood alcohol content (BAC). Many people can reach that level after a little more than one standard glass of wine.


Why should you care about what happens in Utah with their known bias against alcohol consumption? Because in 1983, Utah became the first state to lower its BAC arrest level to .08. After many years and contentious fights surrounding drinking and relative impairment, all 49 other states followed suit. Admittedly, this copycat phenomenon was helped by the threat of losing federal money for a law that was aimed at the wrong people. As is often the case in politics, the desire to say "me too" - not informed judgment - was the impetus behind the momentum. That's why it's important to pay attention, even if it's to Utah's weird alcohol laws. (The state just repealed the ban on watching a bartender mix your drink.)


The NTSB - which has been looking to justify its budget since there are fewer train and airline disasters to investigate - spoke of dangerous impairment levels at the new .05 BAC arrest threshold.


For the uninitiated in the arcane world of blood alcohol levels, impairment is a term too loosely defined. Research indicates a .05 BAC while driving is considered less dangerous than talking on a hands-free cellphone or speeding. Research also shows .05 causes less impairment than being over the age of 65 - aka DWO (driving while older). Seniors beware. In the real world where most of us live, driving with a .05 BAC is not drunk driving at all.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017 8:54:00 AM

But health experts warn to drink moderately

Source: The Independent


April 28, 2017

Your head is pounding, the room's spinning and your stomach is lurching - when you're hungover, reaching for painkillers can often seem like a good idea.

But according to a new study, hair of the dog really could do the trick.

And not just for dealing with a hangover - according to new research, drinking two beers is more effective at relieving pain than taking painkillers.

Over the course of 18 studies, researchers from the University of Greenwich found that consuming two pints of beer can cut discomfort by a quarter.

By elevating your blood alcohol content to approximately 0.08 per cent, you'll give your body "a small elevation of pain threshold" and thus a "moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings".

The researchers explained: "Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain, despite its potential consequences for long-term health."

It's not clear, however, whether alcohol reduces feelings of pain because it affects brain receptors or because it just lowers anxiety, which then makes us think the pain isn't as bad.

Dr Trevor Thompson, who led the study at London's Greenwich University, told The Sun: "[Alcohol] can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol.

"If we can make a drug without the harmful side-effects, then we could have something that is potentially better than what is out there at the moment."

However experts are also speaking out to clarify that the results of the new study don't mean alcohol is good for us.

Rosanna O'Connor, director of Alcohol and Drugs at Public Health England, said: "Drinking too much will cause you more problems in the long run. It's better to see your GP."

Government guidelines recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women, which equates to six pints of beer, or six 175ml glasses of wine.

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FDA delays menu labeling rule 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 8:52:00 AM

The regulation was set to go into effect on May 5


Source: NRN

Dan Orlando

Apr 27, 2017


The Food and Drug Administration is pushing back the deadline in implementing menu labeling regulations.


The FDA submitted an interim final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday that signals a delay in the agency's final menu labeling rule, set to take effect on May 5, according to a release issued by The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS).


The move comes after NACS and the National Grocers Association formally requested that the FDA intervene prior to the deadline.


The impending regulation had been headed toward next week's scheduled launch since Nov. 25, 2014, when a ruling was released that outlined updated menu-labeling requirements for restaurant chains and "similar retail food establishments."


Those falling under the new law's jurisdiction would be required to post calorie counts for food items on standard menus or menu boards. Other transparency measures also would apply should the law come into effect unhindered.


NACS said in a statement that "the menu-labeling regulations established by the FDA do not account for the varying approaches to foodservice between big-chain restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and delivery operations such as pizza chains."


But the National Restaurant Association disagrees with the delay.


"The National Restaurant Association strongly cautions against any actions that would delay implementation of the menu labeling law," Cicely Simpson, the NRA's executive vice president of government affairs and policy, said in a statement.


Menu labeling laws had previously been passed at the city, state and sometimes county levels.


"If the federal standard is repealed, we will once again return to this patchwork approach that will be even more burdensome for restaurants to implement and will not have the legal safeguards included in the federal law," Simpson said.

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Drugged Driving on Rise, Passes Alcohol Alone in Fatal Crashes, Study Finds 

Monday, May 01, 2017 5:08:00 PM


Source: NBC News


April 26, 2017


The number of American drivers killed in car crashes in which drugs were detected has eclipsed those killed in crashes where only alcohol was found, according to a new study released Wednesday.


The report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit funded by alcohol distillers, found drugs of all types - illegal and prescription - were present in 43 percent of fatal crashes in 2015 in which test results were available, compared to around 37 percent who tested positive for alcohol.


Carol Akers' son Jacob, 22, was killed by a driver high on opiods in Tennessee in 2014.


"The physical pain you eventually heal from, but the emotional pain, just never," Akers told The Tennessean newspaper last year.


The governors association calls for increased training for law enforcement to detect drugged drivers. Unlike a Breathalyzer test to detect drunk driving, police say there is no standard roadside test to detect most drugs.


The California Highway Patrol has increased training and by the end of the year expects all its officers to be trained to detect drugs other than alcohol when stopping suspected impaired drivers, CHP Sgt. Tony Garrett said.


"When it comes to driving under the influence of some type of drugs, there's a huge difference" from alcohol, he said. In the past marijuana was easily detectable by smell, but some cannabis-infused products no longer depend on smoking the drug, he said.


"It can be extremely difficult if you don't know what you're looking for," he said.


The data in the report has limitations. The foundation only collected what states report, and states vary in how often tests are used and what substances are tested, the report says. Nine states tested 85 percent or more of fatally-injured drivers in 2015, while two states tested 15 percent or less, the report says.


And the data only records the presence of drugs, not the amount of the drug that could be used to compare to an equivalent blood-alcohol level, the report cautioned. Many impaired drivers are combining substances, which can be especially dangerous, Ralph. S. Blackman, President and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, said.


"Drugged driving is a complicated issue. The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what's going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it," study author Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former National Highway Transportation Safety Administration official, said.


The effect of marijuana laws allowing medicinal or recreational use is unclear. The study released this week cites a 2013 study that found increases in marijuana use in fatal crashes in only three of 14 states that passed medical marijuana laws before 2010.


It also cited a 2016 study from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area that said traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose from 10 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2015, but those numbers include any time marijuana is detected, and other substances could be involved. Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana in 2012.


Mary Gaston's 23-year-old son, Blake, was killed in a crash in Washington state in 2013 after his motorcycle was hit by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana. "I can still hear the impact," she said.


"There's a perception that marijuana does not impair you like alcohol does. That you can smoke a couple joints, eat a couple of brownies and go out and drive. That's not true, you are impaired."


The driver in the crash, Caleb Floyd , was sentenced to 34 months in prison in October of 2015, with credit for the around 17 months he'd already served, the Seattle Times reported.

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May Is National Tavern Month 

Monday, May 01, 2017 5:14:00 AM

          May Is National Tavern Month 

Join ABL in Recognizing Bar & Tavern

Owners by Celebrating the 64th Annual Tavern Month


April 28, 2017 - Bethesda, MD - Since 1953, Tavern Month has served as an opportunity to support local hospitality businesses, promote the responsible service and enjoyment of beverage alcohol, and educate the public about the economic engine formed by the hundreds of thousands of on-premise beverage licensees throughout the United States. Which is why this May, ABL and America's Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers encourage everyone to recognize their local bars and taverns by celebrating Tavern Month. 


Long known as the "Friendliest Place in Town," the American bar and tavern represent the epitome of community spirit and social culture - both of which are at the core of this nation's civic fabric. Be it the corner pub, a trendy lounge, a wine bar, or a family-owned and operated tavern, they all have the same essential function: serving as a place where people come together for meetings, celebrations, and remembrances. Simply put, they are places where people come to share.


Bars and taverns have played an integral role in the development and formation of this nation for nearly 250 years: in 1773, the Sons of Liberty planned the Boston Tea Party at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston; in 1787, 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention celebrated at Philadelphia's City Tavern two days prior to the signing of the Constitution; and in 1833, Abraham Lincoln and associate William Berry opened three stores that doubled as bars, selling brandies, gin, wine, rum and whiskey.


"The important role played by bars and taverns in the history of this nation should not be overlooked," noted ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. "Whether it's serving as a location for like-minded individuals to meet and discuss the pressing issues of the day, the sponsoring of local youth athletics programs, or working with local civic organizations to promote and support community initiatives, on-premise beverage retailers are there - and often times, they are leading the way."


According to the 2016 Economic Impact Study of America's Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers , direct retail alcohol sales for on-premise, licensed establishments account for as many as 1.41 million jobs; $35.9 billion in wages and benefits; and more than $76 billion in economic impact annually.  When including all sales by on-premise, full-service restaurants and drinking places, those numbers climb to 5.66 million jobs; $136.7 billion in wages and benefits; and over $275 billion in economic impact . 


As the retail tier within the Three-Tier System, bar and tavern owners also work with elected officials and state regulators on an on-going and continual basis to support sensible beverage alcohol policy. These owners also place a strong emphasis on providing the public with responsible service, as evidenced through various employee training programs and the implementation of programs and initiatives designed to both discourage and prevent drunk driving and underage access to alcohol.




This May, join ABL and its state and local bar and tavern association affiliates in embracing the historic and modern roles of the American bar and tavern, the hardworking individuals who strive to keep the doors of their businesses open, and the good jobs they provide to those in their communities. Celebrate Tavern Month this May by raising a glass to the American tavern - the friendliest place in town. To learn more about Tavern Month, click here

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Restaurant group tells Idahoans: Don't vacation in Utah 

Thursday, April 27, 2017 8:43:00 AM

Source: Idaho Statesman


April 24th


A new Utah law lowering the maximum blood-alcohol limit doesn't take effect until the end of 2018. But a restaurant trade association isn't waiting to begin an assault on it.


The American Beverage Institute took out a full-page ad in Tuesday's Idaho Statesman with the headline "Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation."


The ad shows a mock police mugshot of a woman holding a card saying she was arrested in Salt Lake County for the crime of having "one drink with dinner."


The law lowers the limit from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent, the lowest level in the United States, though it matches the limit in some European nations.


The ad is designed to put pressure on the Utah Legislature to reconsider.


Idaho sends more vacationers to Utah than any state except California, said Sarah Longwell, the beverage institute's managing director. Nevada is No. 3.


"We're sending a message that maybe Colorado or Montana are better places to go for a ski vacation. Or stay home in Idaho," said Longwell, who works in the institute's headquarters in Washington, D.C.


The ad says that having just one drink with dinner "could possibly land you in jail."


That might not be true for men, who generally weigh more than women, Longwell said. "But if you're a 120-pound woman, one 6-ounce glass of wine could put you in that range," she said.


The National Transportation Safety Board has advocated lowering the limit to 0.05 percent to reduce fatalities caused by impaired drivers. Since 1995, the proportion of traffic fatalities associated with alcohol-impaired drivers has remained between 30 percent and 32 percent, the board said.


Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill last month, but the ink was barely dry when he said he plans to call the Legislature into special session late this summer to consider changing it. He said he is open to a suggestion that Utah wait until three or four other states enact similar laws to lessen the possible negative impact on tourism.


Herbert said he would also consider supporting lesser penalties for drivers with alcohol levels of between 0.05 percent and 0.08 percent.


"Everything is on the table," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.


Longwell said Utah lawmakers hurried the bill. "There was so little discussion, and people didn't have time to weigh in," she said.


France, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Germany all enforce a 0.05 percent level. In Bosnia and Herzegovina it's 0.031 percent.


Utah and Oregon were the first states to lower the maximum alcohol level for drivers from 0.10 percent to 0.08, in 1983. Idaho did it in 1997.


Dan Howard, director of communications for Visit Park City, said his ski-resort town is well-equipped to handle visitors who have been drinking and shouldn't be on the road driving. The city provides free shuttle buses, as do many hotels and resorts. Park City also has robust Uber and Lyft ride services.


Park City, he said, isn't worried about a loss in business.


"I just hope whether the limit is .08 percent or .05, they don't drive impaired," he said.

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Monday, April 17, 2017 4:11:00 PM

Majority of Americans Favor Legalization, Few Fear the Police

Source: Prproann

Ann T. Willets

April 14, 2017

 Just in time for 4/20 or World Cannabis Day, DIG Insights, a leading global research firm, has released its Cannabis Culture Report, an extensive research initiative on marijuana use in North America encompassing public attitudes on usage, legalization and much more. 

"Our goal was to create a custom research report that would serve as a benchmark for the growing Cannabis industry, legislators and other interested parties," said Rory McGee, research director, DIG Insights, Inc.


The majority of Americans (57%) support legalization, and support is highest among men (61%), particularly younger men (79%), and Millennials overall (68%). Among current users in states where marijuana is not currently legal, 37% say they are likely to consume more marijuana after it's legalized. 

Only 16% of Americans believe Marijuana is "very harmful", which is lower than alcohol (27%), processed sugar (23%) and saturated fat (33%).  A majority (51%) believes consumption can be beneficial, while only 32% believe that regular users are less successful in life. However, 25% report having a close friend or family member whose life was negatively affected by marijuana.


Among the findings, approximately 2 out of every 10 Americans (22%) have used recreational marijuana in the past year and an additional 24% would potentially use it if it became legal.  Usage is highest among people aged 18-34 (30%) and those who are making less than $60K (27%).  Nearly 11% of men in this age group report smoking marijuana daily.

Those who currently use marijuana report they do so to reduce stress and relieve anxiety (24%) or to promote relaxation and wellbeing (31%).  Interestingly, while smoking remains the most common form of consumption, 54% have tried edibles, indicating a growing market opportunity for producers. Younger users are also more likely to have tried Vaping.


When people are high they are most likely to watch television (52%), eat (45%), listen to music (41%), socialize (33%) or drink alcohol (31%).  Younger people were less likely to combine marijuana with alcohol as compared to those over 35.


Most Americans get their marijuana by purchasing it directly (53%), while others consume what they get from others (26%), and 21% report having a friend or family member purchase it on their behalf.  Those that purchase typically buy a quarter ounce or less. The average price is $10/gram. Where legal, 57% purchase at a dispensary. Most (42%), however, purchase at someone's residence. A large majority (73%) report feeling very safe when purchasing marijuana and half say they're never concerned about police intervention.

For more information or to order a copy of the Cannabis Culture Report for either the USA or Canada, please click here or email

About the Study:

Dig Insights Inc., a market research firm based in Toronto, Canada, conducted this study on marijuana usage and attitudes. Responses were collected online between April 3 and 7, 2017. The survey sampled n=1,108 Canadians and n=1,105 Americans aged 18-65 sourced from Research Now's leading panel. Results have been weighted to reflect census proportions for age, gender and region in both countries. The margins of error are +/- 2.9% in each country.

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Why Lawmakers Should Reject a Legal Age Increase 

Friday, April 14, 2017 8:57:00 AM

More states looking into raising age of purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21

Thomas A. Briant

April 07, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- Virtually every current state legislator is older than 21 years old, which means that each lawmaker was able to personally exercise a right to determine for themselves when they were 18, 19 and 20 years old whether they would purchase and use legal tobacco products. However, bills introduced this year in twenty-three states would take that personal right away from these young adults by raising the legal age to buy and use tobacco products to 21.

Of these twenty-three state bills, legislation to raise the legal age has already been defeated or died in Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota and Utah. The other seventeen states with legal-age bills still pending include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

It is only fair to allow current young adults the opportunity to exercise the same right to decide whether to buy and use tobacco products that each current state legislator made at the adult ages of 18, 19 and 20.

However, one of the main reasons some lawmakers are proposing a new minimum age of 21 is due to a study sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and conducted by the Institute of Medicine. That study looked at raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and also 25. There is a very important sentence in that study which states: “The parts of the brain most responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and susceptibility to peer pressure continue to develop and change through young adulthood…”

If lawmakers truly believe that the brain of an 18 year old adult is not capable of rationally making a decision whether to buy and use legal tobacco products, then logically those same lawmakers should support legislation raise the age to 21 for adults to vote, serve in the military, get married, obtain loans to attend college, buy lottery tickets and even make medical decisions for themselves. If they believe that 18 year olds can exercise all of these other rights and make these kinds of decisions, then the legal age to purchase tobacco products should remain at 18.

Besides the issue of allowing 18 year olds to exercise their personal freedom to make decisions for themselves, lawmakers should also be very concerned about the fiscal impact of raising the legal age to 21.

Changing the legal age to 21 would result in a significant reduction in the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products by retailers. This loss of sales will translate into lower state cigarette and tobacco tax collections. 

Below is a chart that summarizes what are called fiscal notes on state bills that proposed raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. A fiscal note is an estimate prepared by a state revenue department of how a particular legislative bill will affect state tax collections. As the chart below shows, the project revenue loss to a particular state can reach the tens of millions of dollars in excise tax and sales tax revenues.

[Insert Table below here.]

Based on just the fiscal note for the Texas bill, the projected loss of cigarette excise tax revenue on the age 21 bill of $39,000,000 would translate into 28 million fewer packs of cigarettes sold by Texas retail stores. Based on these revenue loss projections, state lawmakers would need to make up such reduced tax revenue by raising other taxes or face a deficit in the cigarette and OTP budget revenue category. 

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017 4:33:00 PM

Source: Illinois Policy

April 10, 2017


An amendment to Illinois' longstanding Liquor Control Act creates curious guidelines that seem likely to favor a few specific Chicago businesses, while keeping the status quo intact for the rest.


Illinois' liquor laws, more than 80 years on the books, have long been restrictive for businesses, with the exception of the politically connected. And new legislation in the Illinois House might continue that trend.


House Bill 3164, introduced by state Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, would make oddly specific carve outs in access to liquor licenses for businesses, likely to exempt specific Chicago liquor stores, restaurants or bars - but not others - from the longstanding law.


HB 3164 would amend the Liquor Control Act of 1934 to authorize the issuance and renewal of a license to sell liquor at premises located within 100 feet of specific "places of worship and schools in the City of Chicago."


But the legislation does not simply relax the rules for any business hoping to sell alcohol within 100 feet of churches or schools. Rather, it provides extremely specific guidelines, including:


The premises are at least 5,300 square feet and located in a building that was built prior to 1940 with frontage on South Michigan Avenue.

The shortest distance between the property line of the premises and the exterior wall of the building in which the church is located is at least 109 feet.

The distance between the building in which the church is located and the building in which the premises are located is at least 118 feet.

The main entrance to the church faces west and is at least 602 feet from the main entrance of the premises.

The shortest distance between the property line of the school is at least 177 feet.

The applicant has been in business for more than 10 years.


The legislation also requires the religious leader of the church or principal of the school to indicate his or her support for the issuance or renewal of the liquor license, and written approval from the alderman of the ward in which the premise is located.


The specificity of the guidelines makes it curious which businesses this legislation was written for, but a glance at past amendments to the law and a history of Illinois government's approach to the liquor industry makes it no surprise.


Before Stratton's legislation, other changes to this provision of the Liquor Control Act allowed for alcohol sales within 100 feet of homes for the aged if the home for the aged was completed in 2015 and is exactly five stories. Another amendment, for example, allowed for restaurants within 100 feet of a school to sell alcohol if the restaurant occupied the first floor of a three-story building at least 90 years old with the rear corner of the building and the rear lot of the school separated by an alley.


The list goes on and on of narrowly tailored conditions for special interests, while the law itself remains restrictive and outdated.


The Liquor Control Act, passed shortly after the end of prohibition, established a three-tier system of alcohol distribution in the state. Under that act, the Illinois liquor industry was set up into three distinct tiers: producers of alcohol - such as wineries, distilleries and breweries - retail outlets and distributors. Licensed distributors buy alcoholic beverages from breweries, distilleries and wineries and then sell them to retailers such as restaurants, bars and grocery stores. With certain exceptions for smaller wineries and breweries, it is illegal to operate under more than one tier.


Every state in the country - with the exception of Washington - operates under this system. But in Illinois especially, the politically connected benefit the most.


In May 2013, then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law House Bill 2606, which also amended the Liquor Control Act, this time to prohibit out-of-state brewers from owning any part of a beer distributor in Illinois. The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, or ABDI, gave thousands in campaign contributions to the sponsors of that 2013 bill, including plenty of cash to main sponsor state Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, before and during consideration of it.


Lawmakers took that a step further last when they passed legislation that made bypassing Illinois distributors for out-of-state purchases a criminal offense. A law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2017, made purchasing alcohol across state lines for resale in Illinois a Class 4 felony, as opposed to a lesser business offense. ABDI was present again while this legislation was under consideration in the General Assembly, making a $1,000 donation to bill sponsor state Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, totaling more than $60,000 donated to him over the years, and a $20,000 donation to House Speaker Mike Madigan.


Beyond amendments to the Liquor Control Act, Illinois state government has also passed legislation to limit choice in distributorships in state - favoring big, politically connected distributors that make up a large share of the market.


In 1982, the House passed the Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act, which bound beer manufacturers to their distributors unless they can prove "good cause" - such as breach of contract - to change distributors. A similar law, the Wine and Spirits Fair Dealing Act, passed in 1999 extended that rule to distillers and wineries. The Wine and Spirits Fair Dealing Act passed in large part due to the financial backing of the Wine & Spirits Distributors of Illinois PAC, Judge & Dolph, LTD, Southern Wine - largely funded by former Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz - which gave thousands of dollars to several lawmakers, including Madigan and former Minority Leader Lee Daniels.


A U.S. District Court judge struck down the 1999 law for violating the commerce clause of the Constitution, but the 1982 law still exists.


Politicians shouldn't be using existing alcohol laws to eliminate competition or carve out benefits for special interests. On the positive side, Senate Bill 1288, introduced by state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, would allow craft distillers to sell a certain amount of their own products directly to retailers, opposed to having to go through distributors.


But still, Springfield politicians' history of rigging the state's crony liquor laws show there are significant changes needed to the way Illinois state government approaches alcohol regulation. HB 3164 and all the previous amendments making special rules for special interests are proof.

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