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Lawmakers want veto of bill they say hurts small beer makers

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Seven state lawmakers from both parties asked Governor Scott Walker Tuesday to veto a budget item they say would hurt small Wisconsin beer-makers.

The measure would prohibit breweries from buying the wholesalers that distribute products to taverns and liquor stores under the state’s so-called “three-tier” system.

There are about 60 small craft brewers in Wisconsin – and the seven lawmakers say the measure would hurt their ability to grow.

The small companies say they might need distributorships someday, to avoid being squeezed out by the big boys like Miller-Coors. But Miller and others say the budget item would keep a large out-of-state beer giant like Anheuser-Busch from buying a wholesaler that would sell only its own products to stores.

The Beer Distributors Association supports the measure. It says the craft brewers could distribute more of their own products. It would allow independent distribution of 300,000 barrels a year, instead of the current limit of 50,000.

The request to veto the change was sought by Senate Republicans Glenn Grothman and Pam Galloway, Assembly Republicans Steve Nass, Joe Knilans (ny-lons), and Evan Wynn, Senate Democrat Bob Jauch, and Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey.

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