Friday, July 15, 2011

Miller Time

Bureaucracy and over-regulation are threatening Minnesotans' supply of Miller Lite, Blue Moon, and 37 other MillerCoors brands of beer. The headlines report that MillerCoors failed to renew their three-year brand license before the government shutdown, but deeper reporting reveals that the State of Minnesota simply failed to cash their check before Gov. Mark Dayton shut down state government. The fees involved for a three-year renewal total only $1170 ($30 per brand). In an epitome of bureaucratic irony, by forcing MillerCoors to pull its product from sale, the state of Minnesota cuts off its nose (liquor tax revenues) to spite its face.

This situation fits into an ongoing discussion by Bob Davis and Tom Emmer on their morning radio show. They have been questioning the very existence of licensing fees like this. Why does the state collect brand license fees at all? Minnesota law surrounding the labeling of alcoholic beverages seems to overlap or duplicate federal law. If such a product is legal to sell in the United States, shouldn't it be legal in the Minnesota? What is the benefit of Minnesota brand label registration to the consumer, really? Besides that, at $30 for three years, the state might even lose money on every license it sells.

Some permit and license requirements protect consumers and the public, but others appear to be solely administrative processes that give the state government a piece of the action in private business transactions while adding zero value. (Anyone remember the Stamp Act?) If you're wondering what business owners mean by "regulatory burden," it's when government makes it more difficult to make a buck, and in this case, even to render a tribute unto Caesar.

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