From the ABL Office
2018 ABL Annual Meeting
by John Bodnovich, Executive Director
Registration is currently open for the 2018 ABL Annual Meeting, to be held March 11-13, 2018 at Harrah's New Orleans Hotel & Casino in New Orleans, Louisiana. ABL's signature annual event brings together on- and off-premise beverage licensees to celebrate their important role within the three-tier beverage alcohol industry. Registration is available online for $299, which includes access to all general sessions and ABL hospitality events.
Room availability at the reduced ABL rate of $229.00 + $14.99 daily resort fee (Fri-Sat) and $179.00 + $14.99 daily resort fee (Sun-Tues) is on a first-come, first-served basis. The room block is currently scheduled to close on Friday, February 9th. Please click here to book your room today!
TOP SHELF AWARD
ABL State & Local News Archive Now Available to Members
The archive provides ABL members with a repository of state and local news stories pulled from past issues of the ABL Weekly, ABL’s weekly e-newsletter, and is the most recent addition to the content-rich members-only section of the association’s website, www.ablusa.org.
For more than five years, ABL has brought ABL Weekly subscribers a wide-range of news stories on topics and issues specific to each state, including: licensing initiatives; regulatory developments; direct-to-consumer shipping; three-tier issues; marijuana legalization; Sunday sales; impaired driving; grocery and convenience store sales; mobile alcohol ordering and delivery; and more.
The archive currently contains all ABL Weekly state and local news stories from 2017, and will be updated on a regular basis to provide members with the latest news from their respective states.
“ABL is focused on addressing the needs of our state association members and one of those needs is for reliable news and information from other states where similar policy and regulatory debates are taking place,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “This archive is another resource that will assist ABL members as they interact with members of the media, state and local legislators, government agencies and state regulators.”
In addition to the State & Local News Archive, ABL has released a Policy News & Updates Archive, containing national and regional policy updates on such topics as music licensing, swipe fee reforms, BAC regulations, tax reform, and employment regulations.
Examining the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.
For retailers - both on-premise and off-premise - the key pieces of the ADA that apply most directly to their business are those found in Title III: Public Accommodations.
WHAT IS COVERED BY THE ADA?
STATE & LOCAL LAWS
LEGAL ASPECTS OF COMPLIANCE
H.R. 620: The ADA Education & Reform Act of 2017
H.R. 620 Would. . .
What Does H.R. 620 Mean for Retailers?
How Can You Support H.R. 620?
Changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
S-Corp/Pass-Through Entities – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 temporarily gives the majority of companies organized as “pass through” entities (e.g. S corporations, LLCs, partnerships and sole proprietorships) a 20 percent reduction of their income tax. However, the deduction comes with caveats including:
(Source: McDermott, Will & Emery)
ABL Responds to NAS Report on Alcohol-Impaired Driving
“Independent beverage business owners, with strong ties to their local communities, have long been engaged in efforts to oppose and stop drunk driving. They view themselves as partners with policymakers, local law enforcement and other stakeholders committed to addressing impaired driving.”
“Therefore, it is disappointing that much of today’s report takes a step back, instead of a step forward, in addressing the complexities involved with impaired driving. The report reflects a battery of recycled recommendations and, more disturbingly, represents a squandered opportunity to be inclusive and forward-looking when it comes to drugged and distracted driving.”
“It also raises serious questions about what the $2 million spent on the report could have funded to more directly address impaired driving.”
“Perhaps most troubling is the study’s unserious suggestion to reject meaningful contributions of the alcohol industry – and any groups that receive funding from the industry – when it comes to fighting impaired driving.”
“To suggest that local bars, taverns and package stores have no role to play in this fight ignores those who are already on the front lines of preventing impaired driving and limits our societal efforts to address this problem.”
“Along with groups focused on public safety who support the strong enforcement of the .08 BAC level, ABL opposes the study’s call to arbitrarily lower the BAC limit to .05. Doing so would effectively criminalize the activities of law-abiding, responsible social drinkers. It would also dilute current efforts to stop repeat offenders and those who drive with a BAC of nearly twice the legal limit, who represent the majority of drunk drivers.”
“Despite the tone and recommendations in this report, beer, wine and spirits retailers will seek to build on the historic decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities over the past three decades. Beverage licensees will continue to work within their communities and with public officials to support effective drunk driving policies while opposing those that undermine the important steps already taken in this fight.”
Music Licensing Legislative & Legal Update
Practically speaking, for beverage licensees this database would provide, for the first time ever, the ability to access reliable information regarding music licensing in a single, online location. It would also allow retailers to make informed, rational business decisions about which PRO licenses best meets their needs. Though this would require due diligence on the part of business owners, an online database would increase transparency and potentially reduce the need for businesses to have multiple licenses just to protect themselves.
Music Modernization Act Introduced; Could Affect Rates for Beverage Licensees
The bills are sweeping in scope and include many technical changes that would directly benefit publishers and songwriters, as well as streaming and digital music services by creating a blanket license for those music providers. Of interest to beverage licensees who purchase blanket licensees for their businesses from performance rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP and BMI are changes to the 114(i) section of federal copyright law. The legislation as currently written would repeal section 114(i) of the copyright act, allowing rate courts to consider sound recording performance royalty rates when determining musical work performance royalties.
Currently, Section 114(i), which was originally put into law at the behest of songwriters and publishers, and is now opposed by those same groups, limits the scope of evidence the federal rate court may consider when setting songwriter royalties. While bars and restaurants don’t negotiate rates in federal court, it is reasonable to assume that if sound recording rates are considered in setting composition rates for, and those rates go up for some licensees, they will likely be raised for all licensees.
Second Circuit Finds for BMI in “Fractional Licensing” Challenge to Consent Decree
A few years ago, during a review of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI, the DOJ concluded that 100 percent licensing, or "full-works licensing," was required under the consent decrees. 100 percent licensing applies to songs with multiple writers where ownership is divided. For years, on-premise licensees have purchased “blanket licenses” which they believe have given them the right to legally play music covered by those licenses without risk of infringement. Songwriters and publishers, through BMI, now argue that they have always engaged in fractional licensing and that the music user must get a license from all owners of a song in order to play it.
ABL co-filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, supporting the DOJ’s interpretation that the consent decrees do not allow for fractional licensing, citing (among other things) the very nature and understanding of “blanket licenses” that beverage licensees purchase from performance rights organizations (PROs).
South Dakota Licensed Beverage
Dealers and Gaming Association