With Halloween activities, impeachment proceedings kicking off on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Washington Nationals winning the World Series, there was plenty going on in the nation’s capital. The DISCUS Federal Government Relations team members, however, have remained focused on passing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) and letting the Trump Administration know that we need #ToastsNotTariffs. CBMTRA now has 315 House co-sponsors and 73 Senate co-sponsors. This is an amazing demonstration of strong bi-partisan support for the distilled spirits industry and we will keep pushing until full passage. I was fortunate to see Responsibility.org National Advisory Board member and Buffalo Grove, IL Police Chief Steven Casstevens nominated as the new president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). I also had the privilege meeting with the Tennessee Distillers Guild to share our advocacy work. Below are further updates on our collective work this week. Cheers!
Craft members, have you made your benefit selections for next year? If not, consider DISCUS’ new member benefit – NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) Health Care!
Recent changes to federal health insurance regulations now allows small and medium-sized businesses to leverage the buying power of an Association Health Plan, or AHP. This is great news for DISCUS Craft members! You now have access to medical, dental, vision, and life insurance plans that offer potentially lower premiums and reduced administrative costs. More information will be available in the coming months about the program and how to obtain enrollment details for coverage effective as early as December 1st, 2019. Details can be found on the DISCUS Member Portal. Plans are not available to member employers in all states. Please click HERE to view availability by state. For questions or more information, contact the DISCUS Membership team at [email protected].
Responsibility.org Educates Lawmakers on Impaired Driving and Underage Drinking Prevention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Former MADD National President and Responsibility.org Public Policy Liaison Colleen Church testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee to discuss the state of impaired driving and underage drinking prevention and programs in place in Pennsylvania to address these issues. Mrs. Church focused on the various countermeasures that can be employed to further reduce impaired driving and underage drinking. Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released 2018 traffic fatality data that shows alcohol-impaired driving deaths declined 3.6% in 2018. Underage drinking and binge drinking are at all-time low levels.
Full Court Push to Build Maximum Support for CBMTRA
With two months to go until the expiration of lower federal excise tax rates for distillers, bipartisan support for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA, H.R. 1175/S. 362) is at an all-time high! As of this week, 315 Members of the House of Representatives and 73 Senators have co-sponsored this bill to make the federal excise tax reduction permanent. However, with impeachment proceedings looming and uncertainty about the status of federal government funding, Congress faces a myriad of issues with a limited number of legislative weeks remaining before the end of the year. DISCUS is working to navigate these challenges and continues to seek tax certainty and permanency for distillers and passage of the bill by the end of the year. Please join us in urging Congress to pass CBMTRA by sending a note to your elected officials on Spirits United.
DISCUS Celebrates the 85th Anniversary of the Code
On Oct. 27, 1934, within months following Prohibition Repeal, leaders in the spirits industry established the first set of voluntary advertising guidelines. To mark the 85th anniversary of the Code of Responsible Practices, DISCUS issued a press release highlighting the spirits industry’s longstanding commitment to responsible advertising. In addition, American University journalism professor Wendy Melillo, a former ADWEEK and Washington Post reporter, published an opinion column on the effectiveness of the DISCUS Code and the benefits of self-regulation over government regulation.
Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Tequila Chamber and Discussing Challenges Facing the Spirits Industry Internationally
Christine LoCascio, Chief, Public Policy, joined representatives from Spirits Canada, spiritsEurope, and the Scotch Whisky Association on a panel to discuss challenges, such as retaliatory tariffs and Brexit, and the importance of distinctive product recognition to the spirits industry at the Camera National de la Industria Tequilera’s (CNIT) Forum on Tequila in International Markets in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Forum also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the CNIT.
Removal of Retaliatory Tariffs Highlighted as Top DISCUS Priority in Annual Submission to USTR on 2019 Trade Barriers
The International Affairs team submitted a comprehensive review of the major trade barriers confronting U.S. distilled spirits exports in connection with U.S. Trade Representative’s annual report on foreign trade barriers. The submission urges the immediate removal of both retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union, China, and Turkey on U.S. spirits exports and retaliatory tariffs on imported distilled spirits. We outlined these two issues are the industry’s top international trade priorities. The submission also highlights various other tariff and non-tariff barriers, such as discriminatory taxes in the EU, Thailand, and Peru, and labeling and standards issues in India, South Africa, and Mexico, which inhibit the sector’s long-term export growth prospects.
Responsibility.org Partnering with the OLCC to Combat Underage Drinking
Responsibility.org team members attended the NABCA Administrators Conference and met with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to further explore how to support their responsibility efforts in the state. Underage drinking prevention is currently a top priority for the OLCC, and the team discussed ways they can utilize the Ask, Listen, Learn program in their state. Responsibility.org will provide digital content and messaging for the OLCC’s social channels around key dates and events to bolster their responsibility efforts.
Member Spotlight: Bardenay
We are proud to feature one of our Craft Members, Bardenay. Founded in 1999, the distillery’s name, Bardenay, comes from a term used loosely by sailors in place of the word cocktail. Although, you can get more than a cocktail if you visit one of their three Idaho locations because they were the first full-service restaurant distillery in the nation! Each of their locations specializes in distilling different spirits that include, rum, rye whiskey, vodka, gin, and liqueur. This December, Bardenay is celebrating their 20th anniversary with the release of their first aged spirit, a 5-year-old rum. Interested in learning more? Check out their website here.
Advocating for Additional Spirits Outlets in Pennsylvania
David Wojnar, VP, State Government Relations, testified before the Senate Law and Justice Committee in support of several bills (SB 548, SB 880 and SB 916) that would create new retail outlets for distilled spirits in Pennsylvania. The DISCUS testimony focused on the need for more spirits outlets to meet consumer demand and bring Pennsylvania closer to regional and control state averages for number of stores per population.
Responsibility.org National Advisory Board Member Appointed President, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Responsibility.org National Advisory Board member and Buffalo Grove, IL Police Chief Steven Casstevens took over as the new president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). His presidential priorities will include global road safety, responding to active threat situations and preventing police officer suicide. The Responsibility.org team and Chris Swonger were honored to attend the ceremony where Steve was installed as President and detailed his goals for the next year. We are proud of his steadfast leadership over the last 42 years and are excited to see him lead the premiere law enforcement organization in the world.
Responsibility.org Collaborates with North Dakota’s DUI Task Force
Responsibility.org has been engaged in ongoing discussions with researchers at the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University to identify opportunities to pilot the CARS assessment. Erin Holmes, VP, Criminal Justice Programs & Policy, made a formal presentation to the state’s DUI Task Force to obtain buy-in and support from key stakeholders to advance the initiative. Task force members unanimously agreed to explore ways to utilize the tool. Institute staff will move forward with a plan to pilot CARS within the state’s evidence-based 24/7 Sobriety Program that targets repeat DUI offenders.
Connecting with Control State Leaders at NABCA Administrators Conference
Jay Hibbard, VP, State Government Relations, represented DISCUS at the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association Administrators Conference in snowy Denver, CO. Jay connected with state administrators on a number of key issues, including outlet expansion in Montgomery County, MD and off-premise tastings in Idaho.
South Carolina Intellectual Property Infringement Concerns Resolved
The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services recently ended a billboard campaign after several organizations, including DISCUS, raised concerns. While the focus of the campaign was to discourage the furnishing of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, the campaigns appeared to infringe upon the intellectual property rights of some alcohol producers. DISCUS offered to connect the agency with Responsibility.org to discuss partnering on underage drinking prevention programs.