Bill would remove beer industry exception

Senators gave first-round approval April 5 to a bill that would remove an exception that allows a beer manufacturer also to own a beer distributorship.

Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek said he introduced LB279 at the request of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission in order to reinforce the state’s three-tier system of requiring separate ownership of manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, who prioritized the bill, said the exception is an anomaly and that similar provisions have lead to litigation in other states.

“The three-tier system ensures tax compliance and better law enforcement,” he said.

A General Affairs Committee amendment, adopted 36-1, would allow a beer manufacturer to have ownership interest in a wholesale operation for two years upon the death or bankruptcy of a wholesaler owner.

Karpisek said the amendment would provide a short-term exemption so a wholesale entity facing difficult circumstances could remain in business while transitioning to new ownership.

The bill advanced to select file on a 40-1 vote.

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