The IL Senate just voted 48-1-3 to pass Senate Bill 754, which helps define a craft brewer and a brewpub as well as retaining self distribution rights for microbrewers across Illinois. The bill still has to pass the House as well as get the governor’s signature, but the overwhelming support for this bill certainly indicates that it’s well on its way to becoming law.
In the short term, this bill will mean that breweries like Big Muddy and Argus can continue to self distribute, that future microbrewers have the option of bringing their crafts to market themselves up to a 7500 barrel limit, and that Anheuser-Busch won’t get the majority stake in City Beverage that they wanted in the first place. It’s not a perfect bill by a longshot, but we consider this a “win” for the craft beer community in Illinois.
During the discussion over the bill, sponsor Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) stated “you’re not going to make everyone happy…This is one of those bills that not everyone is happy with.” One of those things that people will not be happy about is the brewpub aspect of the bill, which requires a “separate location” for a brewpub to also self-distribute as a craft brewer. Saying that “if they want to act like a craft brewer they have to look like one too,” Trotter certainly indicated that something more substantial than just a PO box would be required for brewpubs to produce beer for market.
The lone “no” vote belonged to Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview), former Bridgeview mayor who was appointed to the Senate replacing retiring Senator Louis Viverito. Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) was one of three lawmakers who voted “present.” To see how your senator voted, the roll call has been posted here [pdf]. Ryan live-tweeted the event, and until we get further news and updates, which we’ll follow up with, check out his coverage of the vote here.
This isn’t over yet, but to all the people who called, emailed or talked to their legislators about this effort, allow us to thank you once again for your efforts. It’s impossible to say at all whether or not our little outreach had any major effect on the outcome of this bill, but there’s no doubt that your voices were heard – and it’s important to note that as we mentioned yesterday, no one liked this bill as it was. Major forces were fighting against it. And now, we’re a step closer to Saving the Craft.
Update: Bill co-sponsor Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) posted this to Facebook:
“We’ve been able to seek a legislative solution that will allow our local brewers to grow and prosper,” Luechtefeld said. “I am optimistic that this remedy will protect the self distribution rights of smaller brewers, but not infringe on the other distribution businesses.”
“This a compromise piece of legislation that will benefit our local business but not too drastically hamper the larger – more established brewing businesses,” Luechtefeld concluded.