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NABCA 20th Annual Legal Symposium – Day 1 discussion topics

 

The Three-Tier System: Can It Survive?
21st Amendment Litigation 2013: Commerce Clause, Antitrust and More
Using Social Media to “Sell” Regulation
Revising State Regulation
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The Three Tier System: Can It Survive?
The opening session of the 2013 NABCA Legal Symposium focused on the survival of the three-tier system. Author and historian Garrett Peck addressed the rationale behind the creation of this system after Prohibition. Craig Wolf of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and Craig Purser of the National Beer Wholesalers Association noted that the system is profitable for every tier while also being friendly for consumers. The system also creates accountability that prevents the type of issues seen in other countries such as tainted alcohol.
Mr. Purser noted that licensees, manufacturers, distributors and retailers experience economic, commercial and regulatory success as part of the three-tier system.

As Mr. Wolf put it, “In America we love to tinker with things,” but the consensus from the panel is that while regulatory changes and legal decisions will create adjustments, the three-tier system will – and should – survive.

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21st Amendment Litigation 2013: Commerce Clause, Antitrust and More

Since the Supreme Court’s 2005 Granholm ruling on wine shipments between states, legal cases and new laws have tested the scope of the decision. The session panel of Deborah Skakel, Esq. of Dickstein Shapiro, the Wine Institute’s Steve Gross, and Walter Marston, Esq. of Marston & McNally reviewed prior and current developments and what may be on the horizon.

State actions in response to the decision have included residency requirements, third-party provider rules, and legislation on grocery and convenience store sales.

Looking to the future, developments on craft brewers and artisan distillers, gallonage cap rules, and continuing legislative initiatives suggest there are more questions on Granholm’s impact to be answered.

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Using Social Media to “Sell” Regulation

Paul Kaspszak of the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association, Tonya Dusold of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division and Christie Scott of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission addressed social media’s positive, productive and strategic opportunities during this session. Mr. Kaspszak opened by saying that marketing and legal staffs need to understand aspects of each other’s jobs to be able to help each other. Having a social media presence, even though scary, is important because it gets an organization engaged in discussions, which are happening whether that organization is listening or not. Presenters Scott and Dusold encouraged attendees to not shy away from push back, or negative comments that may be said, but to use it as an opportunity to change the tone of the message and to offer a different side of the conversation; your own.

Social media is changing in a way such that it is not necessarily how fast one responds to an issue that is important, but how well one manages it. Looking to the future, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may soon be used to shift the focus of internet traffic toward an organization’s own website, where the conversations have a more personal social network.

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Revising State Regulation

States have approached changes in alcohol regulations to modernize them. This session panel discussed two states and their regulatory revision process.

Kevin McNally, Esq. of Marston & McNally began the session by stating that the task of regulators is to balance the state interest and private interest to create the public interest; however, state and private interests can be in tension and the regulatory process is cumbersome.

S. Chris Curtis of the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control discussed his state’s recent initiative to review regulations with the purpose to streamline provisions to ease the burden on regulated parties.

The conclusions drawn from this process include more frequent reviews, an open and transparent process, and a balanced mindset.

Stephen Humphress, Esq. from the Kentucky Department of Alcohol Beverage Control commented on his state’s regulatory revision process. Liquor laws date back to Prohibition and had contradictions that were confusing, so the Governor created a task force to review these regulations.

The experience of both states show that while revising state regulations is not a simple process, it is important for the public good and is not too large a feat to be accomplished.

Source: NABCA