Social Media Bill, Plus a Few Others, on the Move in Illinois Legislature

In Beer Politics by Ryan

A bill updating social media rules for brewers and distributors in Illinois is moving through the legislature — as are a few other bills.

Illinois_State_Capitol_domeA bill cleaning up social media rules for brewers and distributors in Illinois has been amended and cleared the Illinois House.

The legislation (HB 3237), which we first reported about here, would allow a brewer or distributor to use Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, etc. to plug events and beer releases for a retailer. Right now that’s against the law in Illinois after the Illinois Liquor Control Commission — in 2012 — equated a social media post to something “of value.” And a distributor giving something “of value” to a retailer in Illinois for free is a no-no.

The amendment to the bill makes clear that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, is the end-all, be-all of social media guidance for the beverage industry. The TTB issued social media rules in 2013. It also spells out that it’s okay for a retailer and brewer or distributor to use social media to communicate and that shares or RT’s are on the up-and-up too.

The legislation passed the House last week and is now being considered by the Illinois Senate.

Meanwhile the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois and Illinois Craft Brewers Guild continue to hash out a bill to address production caps for craft brewers in the state and to undo a rule interpretation by the ILCC that would cap the amount of beer a brewpub could sell to a distributor at 50,000 gallons.

We first reported on the breakthrough discussions last month. There remains one sticking point on the compromise bill, which neither side is discussing publicly. However ABDI President Bob Myers hinted last month that his organization won’t budge on some things.

“[I]f at any time the Three Tier System is compromised by a legislative proposal, ABDI will have no alternative but to defend that system with every means necessary,” said Myers.

ICBG Executive Director Justin Maynard tells us he’s optimistic he and Bob Myers can work out their differences and move a bill before the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 31st.

Also of interest is SB 1516 which would remove language from the Illinois Liquor Control Act allowing a restaurant or hotel to sell wine it produces, bypassing a distributor. Restoration Hardware used that carve-out to win a case before the ILCC recently to move forward with a wine bar at its Lincoln Park location in Chicago. Yes, Restoration Hardware has its own wine. The bill was introduced to close this new-found loophole. It passed the Senate last week.

SB 1213 passed the Senate Executive Committee last week too and awaits a vote by the full Senate. It would pave the way for Geneseo Brewing Company to open in Geneseo. The proposed location is within 100-feet of a church, so it needs the blessing of the state. Geneseo is just east of the Quad Cities.

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About the Author

Ryan

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.