At least for now, the N.C. Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association has succeeded in quashing a proposal to allow breweries to self-distribute more of their own beer.
The group came out strongly against House Bill 500, which until Wednesday would have raised the self-distribution cap from twenty-five thousand to two hundred thousand barrels per year and would have made it easier for breweries to get out of distribution agreements. Wholesalers were able to sway enough legislators to keep that language out of the bill altogether.
Just before the House Alcohol Beverage Control Committee was set to discuss HB 500 on Wednesday afternoon, bill sponsor Representative Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, put forth a proposed committee substitute taking out those two provisions.
"The reason we struck them out is we didn't have the votes," McGrady says.
McGrady says the changes were made out of "political pragmatism." The wholesalers association "made clear they weren't going to discuss any of these issues," so it came down to taking out those provisions and getting the rest of the bill through committee or trying to negotiate the barrel cap and risking that the entire bill be killed.
What's left largely cleans up existing language and ambiguities in the law. Introducing the revised version to the ABC committee, McGrady called it a "shadow of its former self."
In the most recent election cycle, the Wholesalers Association PAC donated $231,662 to state political campaigns; it, along with distributors, funneled $53,000 to sixteen of the twenty-six legislators currently on the ABC Committee. Since 2013, according to Democracy NC, the Wholesalers Association PAC and people affiliated with distribution companies have given nearly $1.5 million to statewide and legislative campaigns and political parties.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+PARTY FOUL."