Washington Brewers Guild Urges “NO” on Initiative 1100

This just arrived in my inbox, addressed to WABL Members, from Heather McClung, President of the Washington Brewers Guild. I felt it was worth sharing as I’ve been hit up so many times — from outside Costco to the entrance of local summer beer festivals — to sign petitions that support Initiative 1100. However, despite all the rush to approve this Initiative, I’ve heard little about how it will really promote Washington breweries and local beer businesses.

To quote the Washington Brewers Guild note:

Vote NO on INITATIVE 1100

I-1100 is the greatest threat the Washington craft brewing industry has experienced in a decade.

Actively being promoted as modernizing liquor laws, by privatizing spirit sales.

Actually a sweeping proposal that repeals 39 RCWs, enabling the biggest retailers, distributors, and producers to own and give favorable pricing to each other, which would eliminate the level playing field small businesses need to grow and prosper in our state.

I-1100 negatively impacts the craft brewing industry.

Washington State is home to one of the most innovative and fastest growing craft brewing industries in the country. During the last 24 months, throughout the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes, the craft brewing industry in the State of Washington has grown more than in any 24 month period in history. Dozens of new craft breweries have opened, creating new employment opportunities for hundreds of state residents, and capitalizing on the creativity and innovation our state is known for.

What this means for YOU as a beer enthusiast:

The majority of the Washington craft brewing industry is small businesses. I-1100 would stunt the growth of our industry as breweries encounter more competition and pressure to give discounts, free product and services to obtain shelf space or handles at big box stores, chain restaurants, and other retailers. A reduction of microbrew presence in the marketplace would have a disastrous effect on our burgeoning craft beer culture.

I-1100 deregulates a prospering, innovative industry.

The problems resulting from Federal deregulation of telecommunication, airline, and banking industries are well known. The affected industries now have reduced competition, less innovation, and benefit only the largest and wealthiest companies. I-1100 eliminates the level playing field that requires consistent pricing for all breweries.

What this means for YOU as a beer enthusiast:

I-1100 would legalize Tied-Houses (alehouse owned by a brewery, selling only their products) moving Washington State towards the now failing English Pub system. Those breweries not willing or able to compete with large producers’ deep pockets will be forced out of the marketplace, eliminate jobs and close their doors.

I-1100 takes away consumer choice.

The success of the craft brewing industry has been a huge success for the consumers of Washington State. Consumers have literally hundreds of choices of locally made, hand-crafted beers from across our state. I-1100 hurts consumer choice by giving volume pricing discounts to the largest companies, thereby reducing competition. Without the means to compete in the marketplace, small, neighborhood craft breweries will close and consumers will have less choice at their favorite establishments.

What this means for YOU as a beer enthusiast:

Washington state’s reputation as a destination for great craftbeer will cease to exist as more and more craft handles are replaced by big beer and breweries close their doors.

Vote AGAINST the deregulation of the entire alcohol industry!
Vote No to preserve the vitality of the Washington Craft Brewing Industry! Vote NO on INITATIVE 1100

The Washington Brewer’s Guild certainly notes valid concerns. We’ve all seen what’s happened with the deregulation of other industries. While I wouldn’t be averse to the ability to sell premium scotch whisky in our specialty store, initiatives are often focused on “what’s best for the big guy” rather than taking small businesses, such as our local breweries, into account. As a small business owner, I’m in favor of retaining the fair industry pricing model of existing alcohol laws, which appears to be eliminated in the text of Initiative 1100. Where there are Pros, there are always Cons. The debate is: What is really best for us as individuals, as communities, and as businesses?

To give fair play to the supporters of Initiative 1100, check out these sources:

Not sure where you stand on the issue? Read Initiative Measure No. 1100 in its entirety, then carefully weigh the pros and cons of how the initiative will affect you, your shopping habits, and the local beer community.

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