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Ringhand touts new craft beer legislation
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MADISON - Rep. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, has joined forces with Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, on legislation that seeks to exempt craft breweries such as New Glarus Brewing Co. from distribution rules changes made in the 2011-13 state budget.

In a statement announcing the action, she said it was fueled by opposition from "consumers and small businesses" throughout the state.

"Craft brewing is a growing industry in Wisconsin and they are putting communities across Wisconsin on the map. We should be supporting the entrepreneurs and small business owners that are helping re-build our economy," Ringhand said, in the statement. "They have made it clear that the new regulations hurt competition, limit trade and discourage investment."

The state's new beer distribution model, she added, restricts small brewers' ability to get critical wholesale licenses and limits where - and how - they distribute their beer.

The Ringhand-Bewley proposal would exempt craft brewers that manufacture less than 300,000 barrels per-year from the new model, and Ringhand says it also has the endorsment of the Wisconsin Craft Brewers Guild.

Ringhand said there exists "significant bipartisan cooperation in attempting to defeat the beer distribution model changes," though she didn't immediately name any Republican backers.