Legislative politics are always complicated. Even the best bills can take years to become law.
But there’s nothing quite as complicated as the politics of liquor. The three-tiered system of production, distribution and sales, set up in the wake of Prohibition, makes for an even more complicated set of allies and rivals than virtually any other amalgamation of special interest groups.
Today, the beer, wine and spirits industries might be aligned against the distributors, or the retail side of the business. Tomorrow, beer, wine and spirits lobbyists will be badmouthing each other’s products, or aligning with distributors to win an advantage over retailers. The combinations of strange bedfellows are endless.
The latest example of complicated booze politics comes in the manufacture and distribution of Hard Mtn Dew, an alcoholic version of the classic soft drink.
Our colleague Austin Jenkins wrote about the fight this week: Liquor agencies in at least four states have denied or signaled their intent to deny licenses for the product’s primary distributor, and two other states have tightened rules relating to distribution and wholesale operations. But 18 other states have issued licenses to the primary distributor, Blue Cloud, a company created by PepsiCo, the beverage’s manufacturer.
Expect a furious lobbying battle ahead, as big soda companies try to muscle in on the controlled industry run by a set of entrenched incumbents. And don’t be surprised if some of the key players make deals, switch sides, and start the coalition-building process all over again.
Here are eight things states did this week that you might have missed:
ABORTION: Iowa lawmakers approved legislation banning abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, after about six weeks. Legislators voted virtually along party lines, with a few Republicans joining Democrats in opposition. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) will sign the bill Friday. The regional arm of Planned Parenthood said they would challenge the new law in court. (Pluribus News)
INSURANCE: Farmers Insurance has informed Florida officials it will no longer cover new auto, home and umbrella policies, the latest major property insurance company to pull out of the state. Farmers said the decision was based on risk exposure in a state at the epicenter of hurricane territory. The change affects about 100,000 policies. (Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press)
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Thirteen Republican attorneys general, led by Tennessee’s Jonathan Skrmetti, issued a letter to Fortune 100 companies threatening legal action if those companies use race-based policies. The attorneys general cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last month that ended race-based admissions policies at universities. (Tennessee Lookout)
HEALTH CARE: New York lawmakers have reintroduced legislation creating a statewide universal health care system after months of negotiations with labor unions. The first effort to create a single-payer system was introduced in New York more than 30 years ago. (State of Politics)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed legislation capping the price of insulin, EpiPens and asthma inhalers. Murphy also signed a bill preventing pharmacy benefit managers from engaging in practices that make drugs more expensive. (NJ Advance Media)
Georgia legislators will take up legislation targeting pharmacy benefit managers again next year, after legislation passed the state House but stalled in the Senate this year. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said the state Department of Health will expand a program to stockpile antibiotics in case of medical emergency. The state will begin storing away stockpiles of albuterol, epinephrine, insulin, prednisone and pediatric amoxicillin. (South Dakota Searchlight)
GUN POLITICS: California Senate committees are working through legislation to impose an 11% excise tax on retail firearm sales, money that would fund a new gun violence prevention program. The measure passed the Assembly in May; the Senate Public Safety Committee approved it on a party-line vote this week, and it heads next to the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Pluribus News)
INFRASTRUCTURE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed a package of five bills aimed at streamlining large-scale water, transportation, clean energy and broadband internet projects. The bills will limit legal challenges based on the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, to nine months. (Pluribus News)
POVERTY: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed a bill removing asset tests for food assistance eligibility, a requirement put in place under former Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Michigan is the 36th state to eliminate asset tests for food assistance, cash assistance or emergency relief. (Detroit News, MLive)
POLITICS: An appellate court ruled Thursday that the state’s independent redistricting commission must redraw congressional district lines, effectively handing control to the legislature’s Democratic supermajority. Republicans pledged to appeal, but if Thursday’s ruling stands, it could drastically shift momentum in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives toward Democrats. (Pluribus News)
Alabama lawmakers begin a special session Monday to consider redistricting plans after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Black voters who sued the state over congressional district lines. Republicans who control the legislature have not yet released proposals to redraw those maps. (Associated Press)
Former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R) formally entered the race to replace outgoing Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D). Another Republican, Raul Garcia, ended his own campaign to support Reichert. Reichert left Congress in 2019, after seven terms in office. (The Olympian)
Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D) will run for governor in 2024, she said Sunday. Quade, 37, would be the state’s first female governor. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R) and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) are vying for the GOP nomination. (Kansas City Star)
Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) will run for governor, he said Monday. Hill lost renomination in 2020 amid allegations that he groped several women, including a state lawmaker. Hill denied those allegations. He faces U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R), Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (R) and businessman Eric Doden (R) in the GOP primary. (Indianapolis Star)
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (D) has publicly announced her run for governor in 2024, the second major Democrat to enter the race after Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D). Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has signaled he may not seek re-election, though he hasn’t made a formal announcement. (Boston Globe, WMUR)