TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan lawmakers on Thursday sent a bill to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that aims to protect the independence of the state’s beer and wine distributors.
Michigan’s state senators unanimously (37-0) passed House Bills 4960-4961, also known as the Distributor Independence Act, according to a release from the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. The bills had been passed by the state House in October.
The bills seek to free distributors from pressure being imposed by some large suppliers (brewers and winemakers), the release said. The legislation — supported by the association — was introduced, the release said, in response to requests and rules that large suppliers were trying to place on distributors.
The measures would make it illegal for suppliers to: require a wholesaler to provide financial records for other brands, employee compensation, or business operations not directly related to the distribution of the supplier’s brands.
The legislation also would make it illegal for a supplier to prohibit transporting completing brands on a distributor-owned truck; a supplier to require a distributor to pay for reporting software mandated by a supplier; a supplier to force a distributor to accept shipments of products not ordered; a supplier to require a distributor to spend the vast majority of its resources to promoting that supplier’s brands.
Some of the prohibited practices could have harmed small craft brewers and could make distributor operations less efficient, the release stated.