Man, thought we had a big win last week. We were pumped. But apparently, it was only a diversion in a pretty quick war. Last week, the Missouri state government removed language from a liquor bill that would have given breweries or wholesalers the right to lease a refrigeration unit to convenience stores. CBB and the craft brewing community of the great state of MO came out hard against the cooler leasing idea a while back. Being pushed by famed St. Louis beer bully Anheuser-Busch, smaller brewers were afraid the law would only encourage breweries with deep pockets and unscrupulous business traditions to lease refrigeration units to stores and thus get their beers into more coolers.
This legislation (that includes many things, some of them cool — like growler sales) started off as House Bill 2054 and Senate Bill 919. But since the Missouri state legislative calendar was up on May 13, proponents of the cooler leasing program hedged their bets with two bills carrying similar language. So, in supreme sneakiness, legislators and lovers of Anheuser-Busch put forth an amendment with the same legislation to a wine bill (SB 994), and it passed in the House. Apparently, the wine guys were like: “What the fuck?” They wanted their legislation to pass, so they kicked out the language last Tuesday. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“I think leaving that in kills the bill,” said Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, who is sponsoring language contained in the same legislation on behalf of winemakers in his district.
The move angered Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, who has been pushing for the beer cooler proposal.
“It’s getting extremely frustrating, This has been four years in the making. This is a priority for me,” Cornejo said.
Oh, Cornejo. No worries. We’re sure Anheuser-Busch is still planning to turn Jefferson City into the next Whatever USA. And on Thursday, that’s what happened (metaphorically). A bill to let breweries lease coolers to retail stores (among many other things) as a way to promote their brands was passed by the Missouri House and sent to Gov. Jay Nixon. The measure cleared the House on a 94-59 vote. You see, the original bill, SB 919, passed. Wait, did we get distracted with bill SB 994? We certainly did. We quote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch again (they’ve done an excellent job covering this issue):
“I remain very concerned what’s going to happen with our small craft brewers,” said Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla. “You’re going to have several big coolers (in a store) with lots of advertising for the big guys.”
But Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, who sponsored the measure, pointed out that the bill requires the Legislature to revisit the issue in three years. Any needed changes could be made then, he indicated.
“This is basically a glorified pilot project,” he said.
Three years? Yeah, sounds like a real shit plan. Thanks, Cornejo.