Beer Politics: IL Legislative Wrapup

In Beer Politics by Ryan

The turning over of the calendar to June has signaled the end of the Spring legislative session in Illinois.

Lawmakers wrapped up their work, generally speaking, Thursday night.

While this session closed without any earth-shattering legislation impacting the beverage industry heading to the governor’s desk, there were a number of proposals run up the flag pole over the last few months.

What follows is a rundown of what was introduced and how it fared this legislative session.

Senate Bill 3399

Sponsor(s): 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.”

Outcome: Passed both the Illinois House and Senate. Awaits Governor Pat Quinn’s signature.

Last Word: This was a bill pushed by the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois. It relates to arbitration between a brewer and a distributor if the brewer cancels an agreement without cause. The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, while not actively opposing the bill, wasn’t exactly a fan of the legislation either.

Senate Bill 1531 House Amendment 5

Sponsor(s): State Representative Esther Golar (D-Chicago)

Synopsis: “If the premises for which a license was issued are located within a city, village, or incorporated town having a population of 1,000,000 or more inhabitants and the local liquor control commissioner has reason to believe that any continued operation of the licensed premises poses an excessive risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the community, then the local liquor control commissioner may, upon the issuance of a written order stating the reason for that conclusion and without notice or hearing, order the licensed premises closed for not more than 30 days, giving the licensee an opportunity to be heard during that period, provided that, if the sale of alcoholic liquor is incidental to the sale of food or other goods and services, then the order shall only apply to the sale of alcoholic liquor.”

Outcome: The most recent amendment to the legislation passed the House Rules Committee but was never voted on by the full House.

Last Word: This was an interesting piece of legislation that had a lengthy shelf life. We wrote about it in detail here. The bill was first introduced in 2011 as a means to amend the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act. Eventually, State Representative Esther Golar (D-Chicago) got a hold of the bill and amended it multiple times to try to give local liquor control commission’s, Chicago’s to be exact, the blanket authority to shut down any establishment that it deemed to pose, “an excessive risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the community.” If it became law, could this come in handy when the patrons of an unruly establishment are causing damage to neighboring homes and putting residents at risk? Absolutely. Could it also be used for less genuine purposes? You betcha.

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House Bill 5288 Senate Amendment 1

Sponsor(s): 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.”

Outcome: Passed the Illinois House and made it as far as third reading in the Illinois Senate, but was never called for a vote. If it were to have passed the Senate it would have had to go back over to the House for concurrence

Last Word: The bill was introduced in an attempt to beef up disclosure when applying for any license under the Illinois Liquor Control Act and aimed to clean up the process to ensure those applying for licenses (retailer, distributor, brewer) are doing so on the up-and-up.

Senate Bill 3456, Senate Amendment 2

Sponsor(s): 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).”

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Outcome: Passed the Illinois Senate but never made it out of the House Rules Committee.

Last Word: This bill was initially introduced as a way to streamline the process for small wineries to get a special use permit to take part in things like farmers markets. But then everyone else wanted a piece of the pie, and rightfully so. The Senate sponsor tried to work brewers and distillers in to the legislation, but that made it a little too top-heavy for some.

House Bill 5061

Sponsor(s): 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.”

Outcome: Was never assigned to a House committee.

Last Word: This is a mirror bill to SB 3456. Instead of trying to reach a compromise on two pieces of legislation, those involved chose to focus on the Senate version. Hence, this bill sat gathering dust in the Rules Committee all session.

House Bill 5369

Sponsor(s): 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.”

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Outcome: Was assigned to the House Executive Committee early in the legislative session but was never called for a vote.

Last Word: We were told by some insiders that this bill would never see the light of day, and they were right. Still, we don’t like even the veiled threat of taking away our cheap booze.

Senate Bill 3398

Sponsor(s): 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.”

Outcome: Was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee but was never called for a vote.

Last Word: This was kind of a “whoops” piece of legislation. It was initially drafted to tackle the use of beer towers, permitting them, but it was also supposed to include provisions on the state’s happy hour law. The happy hour language never made it in to the initial drafting of the bill. And the bill was never amended to include it. Expect both issues to remain in play in the upcoming fall veto session and in to the next General Assembly.


While only one bill pertaining to the beverage industry was sent to the governor’s desk this session, don’t think it’s the end of the road for the bills mentioned above.

The books are kept open on bills for two years, hence the long shelf life of the aforementioned SB 1531. And the legislature won’t hit reset on bills till after the next General Assembly is sworn in, in January 2013. Which means those bills, and thousands of others, are still in play for the fall veto session in November and December, after the general election.

Strange things happen when lawmakers who lost on election day return to Springfield for six days of voting.

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About the Author



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.

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