Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign a brewery bill that would bar big brewers from owning or having a financial stake in wholesale distributors in the state, Anheuser-Busch InBev said Wednesday.
The passage of Senate Bill 48 last week led to a protest from the world's largest brewer and representatives from Anheuser-Busch met with Kasich and state lawmakers Wednesday to discuss the issue. Kasich has yet to sign the bill, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously last week.
Anheuser-Busch had protested the fact that the language about distributors was slipped into the bill at the last minute. The bill also deals with transferring of liquor permits and reduces the annual fee that craft brewers have to pay for a brewing license from $3,906 to $1,000.
“We have shared our concerns with legislators and Governor Kasich regarding the lack of transparency in the legislative process and that the legislation’s restrictions on competition and constraints on the free market will ultimately harm consumer choice," the company said in a statement. "Positive assurances were given to us by policymakers to address the issues that could significantly impact our investments in the state. We are working to identify a solution that maintains consumer choice and the free market principles that make Ohio a great state to do business.”
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said: "Having just received the bill yesterday, we haven't yet announced any decision on it. Needless to say, however, it would be highly unusual for any governor to ever veto a bill passed unanimously by both parties in both chambers."