Deal makes alcohol law reform more likely

American Experiment has long argued for reform of Minnesota’s outdated alcohol laws, which do nothing but stifle entrepreneurship and protect insiders. These insiders have fought to maintain laws nearly a century old which do nothing to protect the consumer, but do carve out market share for them — market share that they presumably couldn’t find in a free market.

At last, there may be some movement. The Pioneer Press reports on a deal which:

…amounts to a “cease-fire” among a number of interests who have sparred for years over the state’s restrictive alcohol-sales laws. It would allow breweries and small distilleries more flexibility in what they can sell for retail — more beer growlers and six packs and larger bottles of spirits such as gin and vodka. Those sales have been opposed by the state’s long-established liquor lobby, which includes wholesalers and liquor stores.

In exchange for getting some of their long-sought flexibility, the brewers and distillers would agree to take a break from seeking more changes for five years.

It is this agreement, the Pioneer Press goes on to say:

…which has allowed a major liquor bill to forge ahead in the House and has, proponents hope, a half-decent chance in the Senate.

The deal has the support of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Council, which represents breweries and brewpubs across the state. Bob Galligan, a lobbyist for the MCBC, said:

“Generally speaking, we like it…Do they go far enough? I don’t believe that they do. But we didn’t want to get left behind in what might be the only liquor bill for some time. I know it’s a good deal because no one’s walking around celebrating too much.”

One aspect Galligan likes: The proposal would create a Liquor Regulation Advisory Council that would include representatives of all the stakeholders, including craft breweries and microdistilleries.

“It feels like we’re finally getting a seat at the table,” he said, expressing a longtime frustration of smaller manufacturers.

It is a shame that enterprising businesses have to jump through these hoops simply to sell willing customers a product, but this deal would be worth it if it allows the bill HF 2767 to pass. And it isn’t legally binding, so legislators can always come revisit this matter before the five years are up. Let us hope they do.