Our dear leaders up at the capitol finally saw fit to pass a state budget yesterday, which is good, but only after the Democrats ceded some of the best parts of it (universal health care) and kept some of the worst parts (taking $200 million from the fund used to help pay medical malpractice awards), which is bad.
Apparently the long, drawn-out and very tedious work of doing their jobs also made the legislators very thirsty, as they slipped last-minute provisions into the budget that 1) make it legal for liquor and grocery stores to hand out free samples of hard liquor and 2) allows, as far as I can tell, that a brewer, "in providing beer to its own retail premises, is not subject to restrictions on the sale, transportation, and delivery of beer generally applicable to wholesalers and retailers."
I'm not entirely sure I understand the ramifications of the latter point, but the Madison Beer Review does a good job of laying it out for us. From what I can tell, it hurts smaller microbreweries with slightly unusual/clever distribution methods and pretty much just benefits The Great Dane.
It's always fascinating to see what little tidbits get added onto otherwise unrelated bills and/or budgets, and this is, I'm sure, just the tip of the iceberg. I'm happy we've finally even passed a damn budget, but this kind of thing has always seemed especially shady to me. No time or will for a proper debate of the subject, so something just gets passed under the radar. That seems just a little dangerous.
In the end, I'm more upset about losing what would have been the most progressive and beneficial health care program in the country than I am about beer and liquor laws, but it's all certainly worth noting. In the end, the main problem is that the majority of our lawmakers seem more concerned with lining their pocketbooks and pleasing their donors and lobbyists than they do with taking care of the people they're supposed to represent. And that's an issue we all need to take up come election time. Don't let them forget that gross incompetence on the job will result in consequences--most notably, by not getting re-elected.
P.S. Silent Sports has a great call to arms against some of the line items in the budget to do with funding yet more ATV trails in Wisconsin. Check it out and make the calls!