August 30, 2017
Wisconsin's Tavern League said Tuesday it will fight a Republican bill that would loosen the state's liquor laws for craft brewers, wineries and distilleries.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, would significantly roll back limitations on liquor manufacturers, wineries, craft brewers and distillers, by allowing them to serve and sell each other's products. The current limitations are in place as a part of the state's three-tier system, a framework of laws outlining how alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers can operate.
Pete Madland, executive director of the Wisconsin Tavern League, said the proposal dismantles the three-tier system and hurts mom and pop taverns.
"We're going to strongly oppose this. It breaks down the three-tier system ... it takes producers and turns them into retailers," Madland said. "Our problem is that it gives the producers who compete with our members a distinct advantage because they get their products at the cost of the product while our members have to absorb their cost of production as well as distribution. It obviously puts us at a disadvantage. The three-tier system was set up so they didn't have to compete with those people."
Small, locally owned taverns have dwindled in the state, decreasing from about 15,000 in the 1990s to 11,000 today, Madland said.