A set of competing legislative bills addressing franchise laws in Massachusetts has died in committee, dealing the Massachusetts Brewers Guild a setback in the year-long effort to reform franchise law in the state.
The Guild put out an urgent “call to action” to beer consumers in the state to request that representatives support two bills the Guilds were supporting, House Bill 183 and Senate Bill 136. State wholesalers were supporting a competing bill, House Bill 2823. The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure failed to take action on all three, sending them back to the House and Senate where the process will start again.
The effort to reform franchise law in Massachusetts was seen as key legislation by other New England states, some of which are currently seeking similar reform or waiting for a success in Massachusetts before exploring reform in their own state.
Under the Guild supported bills, breweries whose brands account for less than 20% of a distributors annual sales would be allowed to terminate without cause, as long as the distributors were provided fair market value for the release of the brands. Senate Bill 136 would allow breweries to terminate a contract with “good cause.” House Bill2823, pushed by the wholesalers, would allow breweries under 30,000 barrels of annual production to terminate a wholesaler for no reason, with 90 days’ notice and pay fair market value.
The Massachusetts legislative session ends July 31, but with all three bills stalled, it is not clear if there is a chance to revitalize the effort.