A bipartisan group of seven lawmakers stepped in on the side of the state's craft brewers Tuesday, asking Gov. Scott Walker to veto a bill that favors beer distributors and MillerCoors.
The bill, which was stuck into the budget without a public hearing, would solidify the state's three-tier beer system by preventing brewers, distributors and any retail outlet that sells beer from owning a license to operate in more than one of these business categories.
Specifically, the state's small craft brewers could no longer have a brewer's license and a distribution license, a restriction they say would stifle their ability to grow and hurt their future profitability.
The letter to Walker reads, in part:
"As the number of big distributors shrinks, we have to ensure that these small business people are allowed to wholesale (distribute) each others' products and grow. In addition, this budget provision will negatively affect new contract brewers by forcing them to change their business models and hurt their chances of survival. Paralyzing legitimate small businesses this way should not be the policy of a state we all want to be ‘Open for Business.'"
The letter was sent by Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend; Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau; Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar; Republican representatives Evan Wynn and Stephen Nass of Whitewater; Joseph Knilans of Janesville; and Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison.