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California wholesalers meet at 44th convention.

California wholesalers meet at 44th convention

The 44th Annual California Beer & Wine Wholesalers Assn. convention, which was held April 10-12 at the San Diego Marriott Marina, was filled with calls for industry unity in the face opponents and industry wariness in the face of future tax increases.

After the gala "Jewels of the Sea" reception, the opening business meeting featured several prominent speakers. National Beer Wholesalers Assn. president Ron Sarasin reported on several items of interest taking place in Washington, D.C. Sarasin described President Bush's new budget and the occupational tax therein. Under the new proposal, wholesalers will take the place of the BATF and collect revenues at the retail level. "If the BATF can't collect the funds," Sarasin noted, "how can they expect wholesalers to?"

NBWA's president explained that such a proposal would raise only $120 million, or 0.1 percent "in a budget that deals in billions."

Sarasin reported that Canada has filed a counter-complaint with GATT after several American brewers complained that Canada's provincial laws created unfair competition for their products. Canada has countered that the U.S. threetier system is a barrier to them, adding that in-state brewers can deliver products directly to retailers while out-of-state producers need a middleman. Sarasin said GATT will make a decision by the fall. "I view this situation as a serious threat for us to continue on in our business," he stated. "This is not a situation that will go away, it will be resolved one way or the other."

California Beer & Wine Wholesaler Assn.'s president, Paul DeNio, followed with a discussion of some industry flashpoints of his own. DeNio explained that the recent passage of California's Proposition 140, which limits the terms of legislators along with size of their staff, will hurt the state's lobbying efforts. "The loss of staff is a big problem for us," DeNio said. "Those guys were the |movers and shakers' of Congress. They did a lot of the research that prepared us for a lot of things."

DeNio also reported that due to California's immense $1.3-billion deficit, "[the governor] will be scrambling hard to find new money, and he will recommend another excise tax increase."

Since the state cut nearly $1 billion from the state's country and municipal health facility fund, a new proposal would "require car registration fees to pick up half the tab, and we will pick up the other," DeNio explained.

"It's a bottomless pit," the CBWWA president said, "if they can put a finger on a direct source, we'll feel it every day."

In closing, DeNio asked convention-goers for their money and their time. "If you don't have the time to spend, we understand. We're all very busy," he said. "But we don't understand if you don't pay your share of dues. Afterall, we're here for you."

The second business meeting was begun by Gary Nateman, the Beer Institute's vice president-general counsel. Nateman reflected on the overall effort to defeat California's "nickel-a-drink tax," Proposition 134. Looking back, Nateman saw several things that led to the bills defeat: established unity within the industry; gave voters a choice; started early; kept debate focused only on issues that were effective; and kept contingency reserve of funds until the final month of the campaign.

Nateman also noted that the committee organized to combat Proposition 134 still meets "in the event that this kind of thing could come up again."

California's new "Injury Prevention Program," (S.B. 198) was discussed by Joel Cohen, an "industrial hygenist" and president and founder of J.M. Cohen, Inc. According to Cohen, a California law that has been on the books since January 1, 1991, will begin to be enforced as of July 1. At that time, all workplace must have a written safety program which is in effect. Cohen reported that non-compliance of the old law could cost a business $2,500 for a first offense, but that fine could be negotiated away. Now, however, S.B. 198 would double the fine and eliminate the ability to make a deal.

The new law also required CalOSHA to determine the 100 most hazardous industries in the state, "and portions of your industry are on that list," Cohen said.

Specifically, Cohen said the law requires: all employers must have written specifics allowing employees to do their jobs safely; proof of training; proof periodic safety inspection; and if an unsafe situatio or practice is found, retraining of the individual. The law also requires an employer to name someone responsible for the plan.

After little debate, CBWWA members voted overwhelmingly allowing its law staff to develop a generic plan to be adopted by individual members.

The meeting's keynote speaker, Fritz Maytag, president and owner, Anchor Brewing Co., explained to the wholesalers that microbreweries "are a real factor in your business."

From there, Maytag went on to stress the beer industry's important roll in society. "Our trade is an ancient and honorable one," Maytag said. "We've had beer at the heart of our society for thousands of years. I have come to see the rules and regulations applied to the industry as society's attempt to build a fabric of integration around alcohol. We're just trying to figure out where alcohol fits in.

"The tied house laws have been good for our industry," Maytag explained, "but now those laws may be in danger of disappearing, which would be a disaster for competion. These laws are a way of earning public trust since the public mind rebels at the thought of one company controlling everything.

"We need to wake up and work together to work this thing through," Maytag concluded.

PHOTO : PAUL DENIO, CBWWA president, warned California's wholesalers to be wary of future tax initiatives aimed at the beer industry.

PHOTO : ON DECK--Speakers during the CBWWA's 44th Annual Convention included (from left to right), Fritz Maytag, president and owner, Anchor Brewing Co.; Joel Cohen, president and founder, J.M. Cohen, Inc., an environmental and occupational health consulting firm; and Gary Nateman, vice president and general counsel, Beer Institute.

PHOTO : CBWWA CHAIRMAN, George Couch, reported that California's Connelly initiative, had it gone into law, "would have taxed [California wholesalers] back to the stoneage."

PHOTO : KEYNOTE SPEAKER, Fritz Maytag, president and owner, Anchor Brewing Co., praised the three-tier system, claiming if we lose it, the public would lose trust in the industry.

PHOTO : RON SARASIN, National Beer Wholesalers Assn. chairman, explained Canada will file a complaint with GATT as a reaction to claims by American brewers that Canadian provincial laws create unfair trade.
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Title Annotation:44th Annual California Beer & Wine Wholesalers Assn. convention
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 6, 1991
Previous Article:Bud family sees new secondary packaging.
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