Members of Congress, Political Strategists and Industry Leaders Provide Insight into New Political Environment in Washington
Washington, D.C. – At the 19th Annual NBWA/BREWERS Joint Legislative Conference, which began yesterday in Washington, D.C., America’s beer distributors, brewers and importers gathered to discuss the new political environment and headed to Capitol Hill to discuss the effective state-based system of alcohol regulation and the industry’s quality jobs and meaningful economic contributions to communities across the country.
“Beer distributors, as well as brewers and importers, have a great story to tell when it comes to the fact that our system works because it is effectively regulated,” said Craig Purser, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). “More than 75 years after the repeal of Prohibition, we have an industry that provides great products for those of legal drinking age. And the state-based regulatory system allows for choice and variety, while facilitating a balance between competition and control and providing transparency and accountability. In short, everyone wins – communities win, businesses win, consumers win and most of all, the public wins.”
U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) echoed Purser as he addressed the crowd.
“Having served in the state legislature in Maryland, I had the opportunity to see the alcohol regulatory system work at the state and local level,” said Rep. Van Hollen. “It was well-conceived back in 1933, and is one we need to preserve going forward. It has served the citizens in our communities well and ensures we regulate beer and other alcohol in a way that avoids alcohol abuse.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) told attendees how important visits with elected representatives are, especially those who were recently elected. “You’re coming in a time of history,” he said. “This is a transformation of government.”
A panel of Washington veterans including Mike McCurry, former Clinton White House press secretary and current principal of Public Strategies Washington, Inc.; Bob Hickmott of the Smith Free Group; Will Stone of Denny Miller & Associates; and Mark Isakowitz of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock also shared their insights into the new political environment on Capitol Hill.
“You have existing regulation that works in the three-tier system,” Hickmott told attendees. “Emphasize that state-based regulation has worked for your industry and should not be undone in the way it has been in other industries.”
Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute (BI), reviewed new beer industry economic impact data. According to www.beerservesamerica.org (sponsored by NBWA and BI), America’s beer industry generates $198 billion for the U.S. economy and employs nearly 1.9 million people directly and indirectly. The industry pays $62 billion in wages and benefits to its employees.
Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian and Bill Earle, president of the National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI), also addressed the group. Earle touched on the necessity of maintaining the three-tier, state-based system which works to protect American consumers from the problems caused by unregulated alcohol products found in other countries but not here in the U.S. Papazian highlighted the tremendous variety of beer available in the United States and pointed out that craft brewers and beer distributors are partners in providing such a wide array of types and flavors to American consumers.
Throughout the Legislative Conference, representatives from the beer industry are meeting with lawmakers to discuss a variety of economic and regulatory issues including: strengthening the effective state-based alcohol regulatory system; ensuring quality jobs with solid wages and great benefits in a free environment; promoting responsibility and sustainability in communities across the country; and educating about the regressive nature of the beer excise tax that impacts hardworking men and women.
For more information about this year’s Legislative Conference, visit www.nbwa.org.
Founded in 1938, the National Beer Wholesalers Association advocates before government and the public on behalf of more than 2,800 licensed beer distributors with operations servicing every congressional district and state across the country. Beer distributors are committed to ensuring that the products they provide are consumed legally, moderately and responsibly. For more information about beer distributors, please visit www.nbwa.org.