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Beer wholesalers enlist lawmakers in fight against Monarch

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The Statehouse is a common battlefield for factions in Indiana's alcoholic beverage industry, and this session, one group of beer wholesalers is firing shots in multiple directions.

Driven by the Indiana Beverage Alliance, Senate Bill 415 seeks to derail federal court cases brought by the group's opponents–  including Indianapolis-based Monarch Beverage Co. – who claim Indiana's Prohibition-era alcohol laws are unconstitutional.

The bill also contains a long list of rules on how beer companies can do business with wholesalers, a set of provisions meant to remedy the trade group's ongoing quarrel with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Indiana Beverage Alliance President Marc Carmichael called the bill “my turd in the punch bowl.”

“We've certainly gotten a lot of attention,” Carmichael said.

Republican Sen. Ron Alting, chairman of the Public Policy Committee, is sponsoring the bill.

Indiana's beer wholesalers split into two camps as Monarch tried to change Indiana law so that it could distribute liquor as well as beer. Liquor wholesalers oppose that change, and so do the beer wholesalers represented by the Indiana Beverage Alliance. Both groups fear that it would help create a distribution monopoly.

Having failed to get bills passed over four sessions, Monarch turned last year to federal court with a lawsuit against the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, saying Indiana's law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The convenience store lobby, the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, filed a similar lawsuit in May over the fact that its members aren't allowed to sell cold beer.

SB 415 states that if any portion of the Indiana code on alcohol is found to be invalid, the rest shall be interpreted to limit, rather than expand, commerce in that industry.

Monarch CEO Phil Terry said he's opposing the bill, even though he agrees that Indiana's laws are intended to be restrictive. “We don't necessarily disagree with the policy statement they've got in there,” he said. “It's just, I know why they put it in there, to affect our lawsuit.”

The Indiana Beverage Alliance supports liquor distributors who are trying to intervene in Monarch's lawsuit, but Carmichael said SB 415 isn't aimed at one case or trade group.

He said the goal is to prevent deep-pocketed companies from challenging state alcohol laws in court. “It's been a phenomenon around the country over the last several years as various groups have tried to deregulate alcohol to their advantage.”
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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