Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Study: Big Alcohol's influence in WI

Arguably the alcohol industry has been successful in their work at the capital. They ensured that Wisconsin remains the only state with the first offense of drunk driving being a mere traffic violation. They successfully defeated a beer tax. Also, they fought for the exemption and pre-emption of outdoor smoking areas and fought for untested definitions to be included in the smoke-free workplaces law. There is model language that has worked in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. The Wisconsin State Legislature decided to create new, untested definitions as part of a compromise with Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco. From our perspective Big Alcohol paired with Big Tobacco ensured that their interests were served well through the smoke-free workplaces legislation.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released a new study this week which examined the amount of money that legislators and partisan campaign committees received from Big Alcohol this past legislative session. The report concluded that the alcohol industry constitutes the third largest "special interest" in Wisconsin politics.
Why you might ask is an organization like SmokeFree Wisconsin concerned about the money from Big Alcohol?
Glad you asked! There are a few important reasons why Big Alcohol's financial and political influence of legislators directly effects the work that we do here at SFW.
Taverns along with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all contributed significant dollars to the total spending by the alcohol industry ($409,000 in 2008/09 alone).Taverns are an important group of financial contributers to legislators because of the consideration of a statewide smoke-free workplaces law, tougher drunk driving penalties, and the beer tax-- all considered this past legislative session.
Michelle's 19th Birthday : Intercontinental Hotel. Mini liquor bottles in the fridge. by Sukianto.The largest individual recipients of Big Alcohol's money were all legislators who voted against common sense protections from secondhand smoke. Representative Davis (received $13,000), Senator Vinehout ($5,629), Senator Fitzgerald ($4,950), and Representative Fitzgerald ($3,700) all voted NO to protecting workers from secondhand smoke in Wisconsin Taverns. Is it possible that this kind of money doesn't buy influence?
To read the full release on this recent study visit: http://www.wisdc.org/pr051010.php

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