THE ABC’S OF THE ABC BOARD
Q&A with executive director Donna Alexander
Q: The name seems fairly simple, but ABC’s role in the state’s beer business must be more than a little complicated.
A: They’re the who, what, when and where of beer. Also, the how and the why.
Q: Friend or foe of beer wholesalers?
A: Friend, no question. We want to be regulated—this is a business where regulation benefits everyone.
Q: Understandably, the regulation guarantees a reliably fresh product to the consumer, but what is the benefit to the wholesaler?
A: A fair marketplace. The regulations which give consumers the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of beers ensures thousands of Alabamians the good-paying job of providing that beer.
Q: Obviously, this is the “what” of the ABC Board’s role.
A: And the who, when, where, how and why are just as important. Especially the who. Nobody is more interested in safe, legal, responsible consumption of beer than the wholesalers. When alcohol is sold or consumed in a way that’s not law-abiding or safe, it’s a threat to our families’ livelihoods. Thousands of families in Alabama count on jobs in or related to beer wholesaling. And our wholesalers are committed to educating retailers and consumers about legal and safe sale and consumption of beer. But we can only educate—we count on the ABC Board to enforce. It’s their job and they do it well.
Q: What’s another example of the ABC’s role and how it relates to the AWBA?
A: Taxes. It’s a huge job collecting and disbursing these funds. We know this because our wholesalers take care of doing that for what we call the “county nickel,” that roughly five cents of tax per beer that totals some $55 million annually that goes to county governments. We collect it and write the checks. Fortunately, the ABC Board helps with that on the state level and the collection and disbursement of that “state nickel,” the roughly five cents per beer or $55 million per year that goes into state coffers.
Q: Beer’s big business in Alabama.
A: People in Alabama drink a little less beer on average than people elsewhere in the country, but it’s taxed more heavily here than anywhere else in the continental United States.