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Understanding Moderation

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Distilled Dispatch June 21 2016


June 21, 2016 | Volume 1, Issue 8
Kraig Naasz

Bringing a Spirited Message to Capitol Hill

More than 50 distillers from across the country were in Washington, D.C., recently for the Distilled Spirits Council’s seventh annual Public Policy Conference.

And those distillers, both large and small, made a significant impact by advancing the agenda for the spirits sector for the rest of the year.

During the 120 Congressional visits with their home state legislators, distillers delivered a unified message calling for a reduction in the federal excise tax on spirits and adoption of important trade legislation to open markets for American spirits products.

Lawmakers were also invited to tour local distilleries in order to see firsthand how our sector of the hospitality industry is creating local jobs, generating tax revenue and producing high-quality distilled spirits.

Our members punctuated their personal stories with some impressive overall numbers during their meetings, noting that the distilled spirits sector experienced a record sixth-consecutive year of market share gain with supplier sales up 4.1 percent in 2015. An important economic driver, the sector supports 1.4 million jobs and generates $141 million in economic activity annually. U.S. distilled spirits exports continued their upward trajectory, topping $1.57 billion in 2015.

The general consensus after we blanketed Capitol Hill is that we are more popular than ever with lawmakers. Since the Public Policy Conference, 25 new cosponsors have signed on to our FET legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing the total to 244. We also expect to soon sign up a majority of the U.S. Senate as cosponsors. Having laid this important ground work, we are in prime position to move legislation when the opportunity presents itself.

My thanks to the many distillers who took valuable time away from running their businesses to join together and make their voices heard. We understand the burden required to make it to Washington, D.C., for such an effort, however, we are seeing the very real results of these face-to-face meetings. We look forward to keeping you updated with any movement.

Governor Protects Small Business, Expands Consumer Choice by Signing Colorado Liquor Compromise

The Colorado Liquor Compromise (SB 197), which modernizes Colorado’s alcohol laws by allowing the responsible, phased-in sale of spirits, wine and beer in grocery stores over the next 20 years, was recently signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper.

A Council-led effort helped bring together allied grocers, package store owners, local producers and wholesalers to craft a compromise to modernize Colorado’s alcohol marketplace.  

For more information, please contact Council Regional Vice President Dale Szyndrowski at (214) 914-8865 or

Council Defeats Bottle Deposit Bill in Rhode Island

On the heels of a bottle deposit bill win in Connecticut, the Distilled Spirits Council has also defeated legislation (HB 7193) that would have imposed a new, per-container tax on all manner of beverage containers, including spirits containers, sold in Rhode Island.

The Council successfully argued that bottle deposit laws were originally designed as a tool to encourage recycling at a time when the concept did not enjoy widespread acceptance. Since recycling is now a required practice and a new bottle deposit system would be costly and complex, the Rhode Island House Committee on Finance concurred with the Council’s position and the bill was ultimately withdrawn by the sponsor.

For more information, please contact Council Regional Vice President Jay Hibbard at (207) 831-8285 or

Public Affairs

Council Hosts Indian Delegation for Whiskey Demonstration

The Distilled Spirits Council, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recently hosted a delegation of key Indian beverage alcohol representatives. The Council provided an overview of trends in the U.S. spirits market and data on U.S. spirits exports to India. The delegation also traveled to Mount Vernon, Virginia, and Kentucky to learn first-hand about American Whiskey, its production processes, variety, quality and uniqueness in order to help increase American Whiskey exports to India.
For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio at (202) 682-8894 or

Industry Relations

Council Driving Support on Capitol Hill

Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz met with key legislators on Capitol Hill during recent weeks to advance the Council’s policy agenda. Naasz met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Sen. Ron Wyden (Ranking member, Senate Finance Committee), Rep. Todd Young (House Ways & Means Committee) and Rep. John Yarmuth (House Energy & Commerce Committee).

Leader McConnell, in particular, has worked tirelessly to reduce trade barriers and uphold fair trade for American products in foreign markets. These issues include weighing in on World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes, safeguarding against bulk tequila imports and helping to build trade standards with China.

Senator Wyden last year introduced a tax bill that would lower the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on distilled spirits for the first time since 1991 and continued his efforts this March by introducing the legislation as an amendment to FAA reauthorization. Rep. Todd Young also continues to be a strong voice for spirits on the powerful House Ways & Means committee.

These key lawmakers recognize that distilled spirits serve as a major economic driver for the agri-tourism and hospitality sectors across the United States. The Distilled Spirits Council will continue to work with these members in the future to advance key industry initiatives.
For more information, please contact Council Senior Vice President for Government Relations Mark Gorman at (202) 682-8866 or

Industry Relations

Markup Reduction Legislation Progresses in Michigan

The Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee recently approved Senate Bill 448 by a six-to-one vote. The measure would reduce the state markup on distilled spirits from 65 percent to 20 percent on the first 60,000 gallons produced by a spirits supplier, regardless of size. 

The Distilled Spirits Council and the Michigan Spirits Association jointly testified in support of the legislation and the American Craft Spirits Association has signed on in support. The bill now moves out of committee and to consideration by the Senate.

For more information, please contact Council Vice President of State Government Relations David Wojnar at (774) 417-6909 or

Industry Relations
CNN Chief National Correspondent and Anchor of Inside Politics John King provides a political overview of the election during the Council's Public Policy Conference.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tells attendees of the Distilled Spirits Council Political Action Committee (DISPAC) Breakfast that passing legislation to reduce the federal excise tax (FET) on spirits, wine and beer is non-negotiable and will happen in the near future.
Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz and USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Administrator Phil Karsting discuss export opportunities for distillers at the Council's Public Policy Conference.
TTB Administrator John Manfreda and his senior staff discuss upcoming notices and common filing errors at the Council's Public Policy Conference.
Industry Relations
Distilled Spirits Council Vice President David Culver, and Omari Murphy and Bradford Lawrence of Beam Suntory, entertain former Mayor of Philadelphia and convention co-chair, Michael Nutter, and the Democratic Convention Host Committee in Philadelphia.
Industry Relations
Distilled Spirits Council Regional Vice President Jay Hibbard hosts Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle at an annual event for the New York Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C.
Distilled Spirits Council Regional Vice President Dale Szyndrowski celebrates passing a legislative compromise with the Colorado team and representatives from Brown Forman, Diageo and Pernod Ricard.

July 18
Distilled Spirits Council Convention Event
Spirits of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio

July 19-24
Tales of the Cocktail
New Orleans, La.

July 25
Distilled Spirits Council Convention Event
One Hell of a Night with Joe Walsh and Friends
Philadelphia, Pa.

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