Anheuser-Busch: No position on beer legislation
Raise Your Pints President Butch Bailey has been making the media rounds in the week since the Mississippi Business Journal had a cover story about the grassroots organization’s efforts to update Mississippi’s beer laws.
Bailey was on WLBT very early this morning, though Magnolia Marketplace didn’t catch it because the segment aired before we were awake.
Anyway, Jackson Jambalaya had a blog post yesterday that detailed the money trail from Anheuser-Busch and its lobbyist, Beth Clay, to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Kirby that stretched back a couple years. It’s worth a read.
It’s in Kirby’s Finance Committee where the legislation that would raise the alcohol content in beer from 5 percent alcohol by weight to 8 percent ABW has died the last two sessions, and where it will very likely die again this session.
But a House bill identical to the Senate version died in the Ways and Means Committee last year, the first time it was introduced by Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, and will probably die again this session. Rep. Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, chairs the Ways and Means Committee.
A glance through Watson’s campaign finance filings from the past two years lists the max ($1,000) contribution in 2008 and 2009 from Anheuser-Busch, just like Kirby’s filings do. Filings from 2010 aren’t due in to the secretary of state’s office until Jan. 31.
Also included in Watson’s filings from 2008 and 2009 are $1,000 donations from the Mississippi Malt Beverage Association, whose president told the MBJ for our story last week that it supports the beer legislation. Kirby’s filings do not show any money from the MMBA.
Anheuser-Busch would seem to have the most to lose from the influx of craft beer to Mississippi, because its main competitor, Miller-Coors distributor Capital City Beverage Co. in Jackson, is the main importer and distributor of what little craft and gourmet beer is legal in Mississippi. In an emailed statement to the MBJ from region VP for state affairs Doug Bailey, Anheuser-Busch said it had no position on the beer legislation, intended to take no action on it via its lobbyist Clay, and that the alcohol content of beer in Mississippi “is a matter for the state legislature and Mississippi consumers to decide.”
We’ll let you decide if A-B really means that.