Monday, October 12, 2009

Legislative Lame-Off

Much consternation at some recent beer news affecting Midwesterners in multiple states...

First off, the village board of Arlington Heights, IL is voting this week on whether to ban certain sizes of alcohol, which includes wine and liquor, but primarily targets beer (note that almost all headlines in print and television include some variation on "beer ban," which isn't merely for alliterative purposes). The primary rationale is that this will cut down on alcohol-fueled "disorderly conduct."

Specifics, from the Chicago Tribune: "The proposed ban in Arlington Heights includes sales of single containers of beer unless they are 40 fluid ounces or more, single containers of wine unless greater than 12 ounces or 375 milliliters, and other containers of alcohol except in containers greater than 16 ounces."

So....forties of cheap malt liquor are allowed, but 22 oz bottles of more expensive (and least likely to be consumed by those simply looking to get smashed) craft brew are not?

Similar bans have been in place in the Chicago suburbs of Evanston and Mount Prospect, to predictable results. According to Evanston police Commander Tom Guenther, "People can still get liquor." Although Mount Prospect Officer Bill Roscop says "Since the ordinance was passed, we haven't had any violations or any complaints," note that the suburb has a median household income of $57,165 (as of the 2000 census), and median family income of $67,262, hardly the unruly population of homeless people cited as a primary target of Arlington Heights' proposed ban.

Past experience suggests that this puritanical proposal would be ridiculously ineffective, and have far more detriment than gain, both economically (local alcohol vendors) and in of quality of life (availability of a good craft brew close to home!). Let's hope the village board reconsiders!

For more info, check out the full Tribune article here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-alcohol-ban-north-zone-07-oct07,0,211809.story

Our next news story of concern is Wisconsin's public hearing (tomorrow) on a proposal to increase the beer tax, raising price per bottle by 2.4 cents a bottle. This may not seem like a great deal at first, but to the numerous craft brewers who have made a home in Wisconsin, this can add up to a significant increase in operating costs. The good news--Governor Jim Boyle is against it, and a coalition of brewers and the Tavern League of Wisconsin have had a public say. Given brewers' significant contribution to Wisconsin's economy, we can hope that most legislators will realize this is a bad idea when the proposal comes to a vote.

More info on CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/33278603

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