By Ashley Jost

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The contentious liquor bill that’s been heavily lobbied from both sides in the Capitol reached a conclusion — for this year — after the Senate failed to bring the Conference Committee Report to a vote before adjournment.liquorwars

The Senate Bill 114 Conference Committee Report was signed by all members of the committee, with the exception of Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

Schaefer and other opponents to the bill were ready to kill it when it was brought up on the floor Friday afternoon. Schaefer inquired of the bill sponsor, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, and expressed his discontent as he began to go through the bill, slowly, while the clock ticked.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia

The bill was brought to the floor twice during the last two hours of session.

The first time, a point of order was made about exceeding differences, but later it was withdrawn before Schmitt took it up again and spoke with Schaefer. After less than 10 minutes of debate, the bill was laid over again, killing the bill during the final hour of session.

“One good thing to come of this is that people are much more educated,” Schmitt said about the issue. He said he hopes now that concerns with the issue have been addressed to an extent during debate, it will be a springboard to debate for the legislation next year.

Sue McCollum, CEO of Major Brands — one of the two largest distributors in Missouri
Sue McCollum, CEO of Major Brands — one of the two largest distributors in Missouri

Ben Jenkins, vice president of government communications for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said in a written statement that the Council is “pleased the legislature decided against moving special interest legislation pushed by one company at the expense of the entire state hospitality industry and consumers.”

Jenkins went on to say it’s the Council’s hope that the bill won’t come up next year — for the third time in a row — though many involved on either side of the issue seem to think it’s inevitable.

Sue McCollum, Chief Executive Officer of Major Brands, a major proponent for the legislation, said she’s “disappointed they ran out of time for the legislation to get through.”

About 50 percent of Major Brands’ spirits business is gone because of recent contract terminations, which has resulted in legal battles. The next step for the company involves rebuilding, McCollum said.

McCollum said she thinks if they wouldn’t have “run out of time,” there would have been enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill. The votes in the House were already at a veto-proof majority, she added.

“We’re committed to doing whatever it takes to keep jobs,” McCollum said when asked what the potential repercussions to the company following the litigation and the bill not making the legislative cut before the Friday adjournment.

To contact Ashley Jost, email ashley@themissouritimes.com, or via Twitter at @ajost.