In a statement released April 24, Donna Alexander of the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association stated:
The Alabama Brewers Guild has not included us in their processes and continues to introduce one-sided special interest bills without addressing the statewide concerns raised by the Legislature, the ABC Board and other industry parties. We stand ready, willing and able to participate in a collaborative effort to draft and support legislation to advance the evolutionary changes in our laws that will promulgate proper regulation while serving as a catalyst for continued growth of our industry. We hope the Brewers Guild will accept our continue offers to work together for the benefit of all.
It was a surprising read. In addition this being a multi-year effort, we have made many efforts to work with individual wholesalers, the ABC, and their lobbyists. Here is the timeline of our activity with wholesalers and ABC leading up to the 2015 regular session
September 30: Jana Ingels, ABG political consultant, and Dan Roberts met with Donna Alexander and Saxon Main, AWBA attorney. We explained that we were still seeking off-premises sales to allow Alabama breweries the same privileges enjoyed by Alabama wineries and breweries in virtually every other state. We emphatically stated that we were “reasonable” and wanted to work out legislation that we could all be happy with. We also mentioned that we were considering the introduction of franchise reform legislation.
October 24: Dan Roberts met with Tod Taylor of Turner Beverage Company in Huntsville to discuss our legislative agenda and explain our willingness to work with wholesalers on drafting a good bill. We briefly talked about franchise reform.
November 3: Dan Roberts met with Supreme Beverage Company in Birmingham to discuss our legislative agenda and explain our willingness to work with wholesalers on drafting a good bill. We briefly talked about franchise reform.
November 13: Dan Roberts met with Spencer Burchfield of Greene Beverage Company in Tuscaloosa to discuss our legislative agenda and explain our willingness to work with wholesalers on drafting a good bill. We briefly talked about franchise reform.
November 14: Dan Roberts met with Harry Kampakis of Birmingham Beverage Company in Birmingham to discuss our legislative agenda and explain our willingness to work with wholesalers on drafting a good bill. We also discussed other legislative initiatives that were of interest to Birmingham Beverage Company.
December 1: Donna Alexander called Dan Roberts to ask him to stop meeting with individual wholesalers. Roberts was led to believe that a joint meeting with wholesalers and breweries would be scheduled to discuss legislation.
December 4: Dan Roberts met with Phillip Kinney, lobbyist for the Alabama Beer Association, to discuss our legislative agenda and explain our willingness to work with wholesalers on drafting a good bill. We briefly talked about franchise reform. Kinney explained that his group was still opposed to direct sales but that he would let us know if that changed.
February 4: Dan Roberts and Jana Ingels met at ABC Administrative offices with Mac Gipson, ABC Administrator, William Thigpen, ABC Assistant Administrator, Bob Hill, ABC Chief Counsel, and Dean Argo, ABC Government Relations Manager. We showed them the drafts of our legislation and expressed a strong desire to work with both them and wholesalers to tweak the language in a way that would make everyone happy. Dean Argo has told us no less than 3 times the ABC is not taking a position on our legislation.
February 6: Dan Roberts sent an email to both Donna Alexander and Phillip Kinney with a copy of what would become SB214 with the following message:
Our plan is to introduce this legislation during the 2015 session, concerning a craft brewers license. The synopsis still isn’t quite where I’d like it to be. The first two paragraphs aren’t really accurate in my opinion, and we’re going to try to get the LRS to remove them before it is introduced. When it comes to the meat of the bill, the hope is that this is a starting point. We want to limit any perceived impact to the three-tier system, and I’m happy to talk about tweaks.
Donna Alexander replied the same day with, “Thank you so much I’ll take a good look at it and get back to you.”
February 11: Dan Roberts again sent an email to both Donna Alexander and Phillip Kinney with the following message:
I was hoping we could all sit down and talk about this brewery bill before the session starts. I can go to Montgomery. Monday, Thursday, and Friday next week are open for me. The week after that is pretty flexible as well.
No response was ever received.
March 5 (approximate): At the State House, Donna Alexander explained to Dan Roberts that there was nothing to talk about and that they were simply opposing our bill.
Middle-men are going to be middle-men. Parasites on the progress of our state’s breweries.