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March 3, 2015 6:25pm

GLI Urges Senate Support of HB 168 Amendment to Protect Jobs and Investments in Kentucky

Louisville, KY (March 3, 2015)  – Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce announced today that while it was disappointed with the Senate Licensing and Occupation Committee’s choice to move HB 168 forward, it was glad to see a compromise amendment introduced by Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville). GLI has opposed HB 168 bill from the outset and contends that it is bad for business and unfairly targets out-of-state distributors operating within Kentucky. HB 168 as it passed the House would completely intervene in the operation of free market principles in the Commonwealth, allowing the legislature – not the market – to pick winners and losers.

In today’s committee meeting, some members noted that the alcohol industry is already highly-regulated. However, this bill as written would extend far beyond regulation so as to be a taking of property. Currently, the version of HB168 passed by the House would cause one company that has operated in the commonwealth for nearly 40 years to lose millions in investment. For a newer corporate citizen, it would destroy a quarter-million dollar investment made towards the distribution of craft beer, all of which has occurred in the last year. GLI hopes that the Senate will choose to limit this damage by voting in favor of the amendment.

“Without the Raque Adams amendment, HB 168 could directly lead to the loss of more than 200 well-paying Kentucky jobs,” said Kent Oyler, President and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., “We are glad to see that Senator Raque Adams is working to protect Greater Louisville jobs and our companies’ investments. This amendment serves to offer equal treatment to all brewers under Kentucky law and is a fair way to set up Kentucky’s beer distribution system.”

The proposed Raque Adams amendment gives every brewer from Anheuser-Busch to a small Kentucky craft brewer the opportunity to hold up to two distribution licenses, permitting out-of-state brewers to maintain up to two that they already possess. These changes would mitigate any damage to Kentucky’s reputation as a business-friendly state – a reputation burnished today when Kentucky placed first nationally in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings.

“This amendment will not make HB 168 an ideal bill,” said Sarah-Davasher-Wisdom, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Greater Louisville Inc., “but it will protect the hundreds of high paying jobs in Greater Louisville alone and would expand the potential for Kentucky craft brewers to become distributors themselves. Thirty-seven other states have some form of craft self-distribution, and Kentucky should join their ranks.”

The Kentucky State Senate, a body that prides itself on being friendly to business, should be making it easier to do business in the commonwealth. The proposed amendment to House Bill 168 minimizes the bill’s intent to target specific companies and to hamper competition.  While it still limits some businesses’ ability to expand in Kentucky, it stops short of threatening a company’s investment. GLI noted that, in the spirit of compromise, they support Senator Raque Adams’ amendment.