Beer Politics: IL Legislative Roundup

5/24 UPDATE (in bold)

It’s looking like this legislative session in Springfield is probably going to lack a blockbuster piece of legislation that will alter the landscape for brewers in the state. And, frankly, we’re okay with that after last year’s marathon Save The Craft coverage. That being said, there are still plenty of bills to keep tabs on and there is always something up someone’s sleeve to keep an eye out for too.

You’ll notice we reference “insiders” in our coverage of the legislature below. Rest assured these are notes from true statehouse insiders. Between my time covering the legislature as a radio reporter, Andrew’s time working on staff in both the House and the Senate and Karl’s boyish good looks we have cultivated some knowledgeable and reputable sources in both Springfield and Chicago. We will be drawing from these sources to enhance our coverage of booze bills downstate.

What follows is your cheat sheet, which will be regularly updated, on the legislation affecting wineries, breweries, distillery’s and distributors in Illinois.

This was updated a week before the end of the legislative session. For a final rundown of what did and did not pass click HERE.

Still In Play

Senate Bill 3399 Senate Amendment 1 UPDATE

Sponsor: State Senator Tony Munoz (D-Chicago), State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

Synopsis: “Amends the Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act. Provides that certain compensation requirements applicable to the termination of an agreement between a brewer and a wholesaler apply if the total annual volume of beer products supplied by the brewer to the wholesaler represents 10% or less, rather than 15% or less, of the wholesaler’s business for all beer products supplied by all brewers. Effective immediately.”

Status: Passed the Illinois House 118-0 on May 23rd. The bill is now awaiting a concurrence vote in the Illinois Senate.

We say: The bill was amended – again – on May 2nd in committee reverting the bill back to its original state. This has to do with arbitration when a contract is cancelled, without cause. If there is cause for cancelling the contract, like a distributor not meeting the agreed upon distribution goals, then there is no compensation involved.

Insiders say: An Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois bill. This one is being touted as a time and money saver for both brewer and distributor.

House Bill 5288 House Amendment 1

Sponsors: State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), State Senator Tony Munoz (D-Chicago)

Synopsis: “House Floor Amendment No. 1 Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. Provides that an applicant for a retail license from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission shall, in addition to other existing requirements, provide a statement that the applicant has not received or borrowed money or anything of value, other than merchandising credit in the ordinary course of business for no more than 30 days (instead of 90 days), from a manufacturer or distributor. Provides that an applicant for any manufacturer’s license from the State Commission shall submit information that discloses whether the applicant, its subsidiary, affiliate, or any officer, associate, member, or partner currently holds any license, or holds more than a 5% interest in an entity that holds any license, issued by the State Commission. In language mandating that a liquor license applicant report a felony conviction deletes provision stating that the conviction shall not operate as a bar to licensing. Effective immediately.”

“Senate Committee Amendment No. 1 Further amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. Provides that in addition to other requirements, any change of ownership of or any transfer of an interest in a retailer’s license shall not be approved by the State Commission if the licensee owes a debt on the licensee’s inventory to an Illinois licensed distributor and if the retailer is delinquent in the payment of the debt under the cash beer law or the 30 day credit law.”

Status: Passed the Illinois House 111-0 on March 26th. The bill was further amended (see above) and passed the Illinois Senate Executive Committee 13-0 on April 18th.

We say: The amended bill appears to beef up disclosure of any other licenses. We think this one is directed at Anheuser-Busch InBev, WEDCO and City Beverage. Just a hunch. Overall, this bills aims to clean up the licensing process to ensure those applying for licenses (retailer, distributor, brewer) are doing so on the up-and-up. Specifically, requiring all owners be disclosed when applying for a license and requiring disclosure of any other licenses the applicant may already have. It would also require someone who is applying for a retailer license, for instance, to disclose if they have had their license suspended or revoked in Illinois or another state.

Insiders say: An Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois bill.

Most Likely Dead

Senate Bill 3456, Senate Amendment 2

Sponsors: State Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

Synopsis: “Senate Floor Amendment No. 2 replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. Provides that a special use permit license may be granted for a period not to exceed 12 months for a maximum of either 15 consecutive days or 50 non-consecutive days at a single location (instead of may be granted for the following time periods: one day or less; 2 or more days to a maximum of 15 days per location in any 12 month period). Provides that a special use permit license applicant must submit the dates and locations of all events scheduled during the 12-month license period. Provides that if the details of an event are unknown at the time of application, the date and location must be submitted to the State Commission at least 7 days prior to the event in order to obtain an amended license. Provides that the special use permit license may only be used if the local authority approves. Provides that while the State Commission may grant a special use permit license prior to a local authority’s approval, the State Commission’s action does not mandate local approval. Provides that a special use permit licensee shall only sell its own alcoholic liquor. Changes the amount for a special use permit license to $100 (instead of $50 for one day only and $100 for 2 days or more).”

Status: Passed the Illinois Senate 55-0 on March 28th. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee.

We say: This bill was initially introduced by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association as a way to streamline the process for small wineries to get a special use permit. Then everyone else wanted a piece of the pie, and rightfully so. The original sponsor tried to work brewers and distillers in to the legislation. But that created a whole new set of legal concerns, so that amendment (#3) was scrapped for now. On paper it seems like a great idea, but apparently it’s causing some panic among those who are trying to avoid another AB InBev lawsuit if in-state and out-of-state brewers/wineries/distillers aren’t on equal footing.

Insiders say: It appears the plan for this legislation was to run it in the Senate as is and try to work on a compromise, with proper language, in the Illinois House. Time is running out to reach that compromise. The legislature is on target to adjourn May 31st.

House Bill 5061

Sponsor: State Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg)

Synopsis: “Amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. Creates a winery special use license. Provides that a winery special use license shall allow an Illinois first-class or second-class wine-maker or a first class or second class wine-manufacturer to transfer some of its wine inventory from its licensed premises to the premises specified in the local liquor authority license for sale at retail only at premises specified in the local authority license and only for the dates and times specified. Provides that a winery special use license shall be granted for a period not to exceed 12 months and may be renewed annually, provided that the applicant submits proof satisfactory to the State Commission that the applicant will provide dram shop liability insurance to the maximum limits and will obtain local authority approval. Provides that a winery special use licensee shall only sell its own manufactured wine.”

Status: In the House Rules Committee.

We say: This is the same bill as the above thrice-amended SB 3456. We don’t expect this bill to move at all. It appears the interested parties are negotiating on the aforementioned Senate bill.

Insiders say:

House Bill 5369

Sponsor: State Representative Toni Berrios (D-Chicago)

Synopsis: “Amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. Provides that as a means to reduce the sale of cheap alcoholic liquors that leads to binge drinking, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission shall provide by rule for a standard of minimum prices that shall be charged for alcoholic liquors sold in bars and restaurants.”

Status: Referred back to the Rules Committee after failing to be approved before the deadline to pass substantive bills out of committee.

We say: Whoa! Hold up a sec. You want to take away our cheap booze?! Maybe a “Save The Well Drink” campaign is in order.

Insiders say: Strangely, we were told this bill wouldn’t be going too far. But, as you can see, it has been assigned to a committee. We’re not sure if that is being done to kill off the bill or if it actually has legs. Stay tuned. Apparently this bill is not going to go very far after all.

Senate Bill 3398 

Sponsor: State Senator Tony Munoz (D-Chicago)

Synopsis: “Amends the Liquor Control Act of 1934. In language concerning the prohibition against happy hours, provides that a licensee is not prohibited from selling pitchers or other types of vessels containing no more than 150 ounces of beer (previously, no designation of the number of ounces). Effective immediately.”

Status: Referred back to the Assignments Committee after failing to be approved before the deadline to pass substantive bills out of committee.

We say: This appears to address beer towers and cleaning up language allowing them. More beer please.

Insiders say: While this legislation appears to be a priority it may morph into something else by the time all is said and done. It should still include language not prohibiting beer towers – but will probably include a few other perceived issues pertaining to the state’s happy hour law as well.

Ryan

About Ryan

With over fifteen years of news experience under his belt, Ryan spearheads The Guys in-depth coverage of beer news and craft beer legislation in Illinois and neighboring states. When he’s not digging through the annals of state government he’s looking for unique beers to cellar.

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