Low Alcohol Regulations Benefit Missouri Business
Over the weekend, I visited a whiskey distillery, StilL 630, in downtown Saint Louis. The owner and operator of the company talked about why he chose to set up in the city. Missouri’s reasonable alcohol regulations were one factor that made his business possible. In Missouri, unlike many other states, a brewer or distiller of any size can produce, sell, and distribute their own product.
The ability of a company to sell and distribute its own product seems like common sense, but that right is under attack in neighboring states. For example, just last Friday, Kentucky enacted a law that bans breweries from distributing their own products. This law, which legally protects three-tiered beer sales, was a blatant attempt to protect independent alcohol distributors and may force companies like Anheuser-Busch to sell its Kentucky distributors. Missouri has flirted with these types of regulations in the last couple years. As Director of Development (and former Policy Analyst) David Stokes wrote in 2013 regarding SB 412:
I recognize that the rules for alcohol distribution have been in place for a long time, but that is not a justification in 2013 for new rules that prevent a maker of alcohol from simply having an ownership interest in a distributor of alcohol. . . . I can imagine no market failure or public good problem that this proposed law would address. The point here seems to be the preservation of existing distributorships and the limiting of competition. . . . Simply put, the government should not mandate the use of a middleman.
Missouri’s reasonable alcohol regulations promote small-business creation, helps large companies operate efficiently, and can ultimately benefit the consumer. Missouri should hold onto that advantage and resist any temptation to move in the direction of Kentucky’s legally enforced three-tiered system.