in Houston, Texas
Tastes Great..No Billing: Beer lobby poised to block public from buying beer from the source
Friday, Apr 24, 2009, 04:28PM CST
By Matt Pulle
Three bills that would allow microbreweries to sell beer where they brew it appear under the influence of special interests as one of the most powerful and well-funded lobbies in the state, the Texas Wholesale Beer Distributors, claims another triumph.

As the law now reads, you can't buy a case of beer at a microbrewery--even after you just toured the facility. This prevents small businesses from marketing their product. Over the years, distributors have fought to keep the restrictions against microbreweries intact because without them they don't have a product to deliver.

Of course, in reality, there are only eight or so microbreweries in Texas. It's not like a change to the law would throw any distributors into the ranks of the unemployed. But the beer lobby, according to its critics, view even the tiniest of concessions as unacceptable.

“It has to do with the theory of warfare," says Howard Wolf, the treasurer of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s political action committee. “There are huge amounts of money at stake here, and this monopoly is so entrenched and so powerful, they are going to fight as long as they can to protect this monopoly or scheme.”

This session three Democrats proposed a slight tweak to the law that would permit the state's breweries to sell limited amounts of beer. But the Wholesale Beer Distributors, a press shy group that fills the campaign chests of lawmakers from all parties and regions, testified against a compromise measure, sponsored by state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, and the bill is still not scheduled for a committee vote. Meanwhile, time is running out. (That the Beer Alliance of Texas, a rival lobby, actually helped write Farrar's compromise bill, should give you a good indication of that group's own clout.)

Two other beer bills--one from state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, also appear to be drying up with no vote scheduled on either of them.

Interestingly, Troy Fraser, R-Abilene, who chairs the business and commerce committee where Davis' bill failed to get a hearing, is a regular recipient of campaign dollars from--you guessed it--the Wholesale Beer Distributors, receiving nearly $8,000 from the group since the 2002.

That's a lot of Miller Lites.
kevin whited
Friday, 04/24/2009 - 09:40PM

It's bad.

The wine story is even worse.

The Texas wine distribution system results in Texans also paying WAY too much for wine, so a middleman can get a much-too large cut.

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