2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com

The Weekly Hammer


State of Gov.

by John Hammer Gov. Roy Cooper gave his State of the State address on Monday, March 13 in the legislative building in Raleigh. He smiled a lot, but it?s hard to believe he was enjoying himself. Both the state House and Senate have veto-proof Republican majorities and there was very little applause from the Republican legislators. Cooper said he wanted to work with the legislature, but he has already filed three lawsuits trying to use the courts to overturn action the legislature has taken. Suing people doesn?t usually lead to cooperation.

Cooper?s State

As state attorney general, Cooper also refused to defend some of the laws passed by the Republican legislature when they were challenged in court, even though that was his job. To top it off, there is the whole House Bill 2, ?the bathroom bill,? issue. In particular, Cooper ordered the Democrats to vote against the repeal legislation that was before the legislature in a special session in December when Cooper was governor-elect but hadn?t been sworn into office. To say there is a lack of trust between the governor and the Republican-led legislature would be an understatement, and Cooper didn?t help his cause by coming to the floor of the House smiling like a possum and saying things the legislator knew weren?t true. Cooper said that if the legislature passed a straight repeal of HB2 he would sign it the same day. But what legislators know is that when a straight repeal of HB2 was on the floor of the Senate for a vote in December, Cooper ordered the Democrats to vote against it. Democratic state Sen. Joel Ford said that the Democrats in the Senate didn?t have a problem with the repeal, even when a moratorium was attached, but when Cooper told them to vote against it they did, even when the moratorium was taken off the bill and it was a straight repeal. If Cooper is actually in favor of the repeal of HB2, why did he order the Senate Democrats to vote against it? In December,16 Republican senators voted in favor of repealing HB2 and not a single Democrat. One thing it proves is that Cooper is definitely calling the shots for the Democrats in the legislature. The belief held by many Republicans is that Cooper doesn?t want HB2 repealed because, as long as the law is in place, he can raise campaign funds nationwide. Once HB2 is repealed the campaign donors in other parts of the country won?t have a good reason to send big bucks to North Carolina. According to Republicans, Cooper has killed all the attempts to repeal HB2 by lobbying against the various compromises when he was a gubernatorial candidate and by being more forceful after he was elected governor. It was kind of odd in his speech that Cooper didn?t give any credit to Republicans for the improvements in the state?s economy. But what was even stranger is that he didn?t mention his predecessor, former Gov. Pat McCrory. Cooper talked about the natural disasters and rebuilding Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew, but he didn?t say anything about the work that McCrory did while that disaster was unfolding. He could have made a joke about it, since the hurricane plus the fires in the western part of the state kept McCrory off the campaign trail, or he could have simply thanked McCrory for the hard work he had done. McCrory and Cooper certainly had, and have, serious political (continued on page 11)

25,000 Barrels of Beer on the Wall

by John Hammer The Rhino Times welcomes the News & Record into the club of those in support of allowing breweries some of the freedom that most other businesses have. For over 10 years, the Rhino Times has supported raising the cap on how much beer a brewery can produce and self-distribute. Maybe if a few more media outlets get on board this law can be fixed. The law is absurd. It puts a limit of 25,000 barrels a year on how much beer a brewery can produce and distribute without using a beer wholesaler or distributor. If you use a distributor then there is no limit on how much beer a brewery can produce. Can you imagine if this type of law was applied to other businesses? For example, if it applied to the newspaper industry, a newspaper would be allowed to deliver its own papers up to 25,000, but if a newspaper distributed more than 25,000 papers it would have to hire another company to deliver them. Or a farmer would be able to sell sell 10,000 bushels of produce at a farmers market, but if he sold more than 10,000 bushels, by law he would have to sell his produce to a wholesaler. It doesn?t make any sense. It?s a business decision that the business owner should be allowed to make What it proves is the extent of political influence through lobbyig and campaign contributions in the alcohol business in North Carolina. We have a system of laws in North Carolina that gives beer distributors franchises from the state, which are basically licenses to make money. In each territory there is one beer distributor who can legally sell a particular brand of beer to retail outlets. By law these distributors have no competition in their territory for their brands of beer. These laws didn?t make any sense to me so I called state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is a vice chairman of the state House Alcohol Beverage Control Committee. I asked Hardister to explain to me how this law governing beer distribution benefitted the people of North Carolina. He said, ?It doesn?t.? Hardister said, ?Frankly, we have laws on the books that don?t make any sense at all.? Hardister said that the law limiting a brewery to 25,000 barrels of selfdistribution ?was basically written to benefit the wholesalers.? He said that some states have no cap on self-distribution, that South Carolina had a cap of 100,000 barrels and for some states it?s higher. Hardister said there were 10 states that allowed no self-distribution. He said about raising the cap, ?It?s not going to hurt the wholesalers.? Hardister said, ?I don?t know why these laws exist.? He said that the laws had nothing to do with consumption ? since that was controlled by other laws ? but appeared to have been written to benefit the wholesalers who have a powerful lobby in Raleigh. He also agreed that it was difficult to get support to change the laws governing beer distribution because the lobby in Raleigh is so powerful. Hardister noted that the small breweries have formed an association and are starting to lobby themselves, so that might help level the playing field a little.

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