The Idaho House of Representatives has passed a measure that will prevent beer brewing companies from owning any interests in beer wholesaling or retailing operations. House Bill 524 passed in the House by a vote of 63 to 6, and now will go to the Senate.
“Beer products are regulated by a three-tiered system in our state,” said Rep. Kathleen Sims, R- Coeur d’Alene. “There is the brewery, and there is the distributor and there is the retailer. No one tier should be able to force its will on the others.”
The bill would prohibit any brewing company from owning interests in retailers and wholesalers. Similarly, it prohibits retailers and wholesalers from possessing any interests in a “licensed brewer.”
Sims says that the bill would “close a loophole in our three-tiered system” of the beer industry. “This will strengthen the brewing business and it protects Idaho businesses and Idaho jobs.”
“There is another side to this and I’m probably not going to convince anybody, but I’m going to tell you about that other side,” said Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs. “I support the three-tiered system and I think it’s important. But let’s say that a particular distributor is not doing a good job, maybe struggling financially. And then Anheuser-Busch was willing to help them out. That financial investment could save the distributor and save jobs, and that is why the brewing companies are opposed to this bill.”
Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Boise, spoke in favor of the bill. “We can maintain the three-tiered system and we should. We can prevent tier one from buying up tier two. If we don’t prevent that sort of thing, then tier one may eventually buy up all of tier two and maybe even tier three."