No to House Bill 168

Damon Williams Special to The Courier-Journal

What comes to mind when you think of Anheuser-Busch? Maybe the iconic Clydesdales, our memorable ad campaigns, or perhaps our tradition of producing world-class beers.

The so-called “beer battle” taking place in the Kentucky legislature over House Bill 168 has revealed another interesting fact —we are local to Kentucky.

Anheuser-Busch has owned a facility in Louisville since 1978, and we purchased a facility in Owensboro in December. In both cases, Kentucky courts upheld our right to do so. We fully operate within Kentucky laws that have been in the books for decades.

We have nearly 200 employees in Kentucky, and we proudly call the Bluegrass State home. We sponsor The Kentucky Derby, the State Fair, and university athletics programs. In Owensboro, we just donated $25-thousand to the local community college. Our employees make some of the industry’s best wages in Kentucky; in our new Owensboro facility we gave our team a raise and enhanced their retirement benefits.

Because of our commitment to Kentucky and its people, we were beyond shocked when House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed a bill to liquidate us. No matter what you hear about this bill, understand one thing —it forces us to give up our property to a competitor. It’s no different than if state government tried to force Toyota to hand over all of its facilities in Georgetown to another car maker.

If that sounds crazy to you, it does to us, too. But here we are, fighting for the existence of 200 good paying jobs.

House Bill 168 supporters glibly say that when they are finished taking our property, that our workers will simply work for them. There are absolutely no guarantees for our people. In fact, our competitors seeking this government-mandated taking of our property have a history of snatching up facilities like ours and then closing them down.

This entire issue comes down to a group of well-connected people wanting to take our business away from us. In fact, on WHAS-11 television’s “The Powers That Be” show last weekend, a representative of a wholesaler supporting House Bill 168 flatly stated that his company was very interested in owning our property in Louisville, and that is why they were supporting the bill. That statement even prompted the reporter to ask whether that made them a “predator?”

House Bill 168 supporters are putting their selfish interests ahead of nearly 200 Kentucky workers.

Knowing that asking the government to help you take someone else’s property was likely to be an unpopular message in a state with a proud history of supporting property rights, House Bill 168 supporters now claim this is about craft beers.

Let’s examine the facts. Anheuser-Busch has owned a facility in Louisville since 1978. Since then, craft beers have boomed in Louisville and in Kentucky, generally. In Owensboro, where we just purchased a facility, you can get Kentucky-based craft beers on tap at the TGI Friday’s. You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without being inundated with news about craft beer growth and new brands hitting the market. The fact is that craft beers are doing great in Louisville, and they haven’t needed House Bill 168 to get “red hot,” as Louisville’s Mayor puts it.

The words “craft beer” don’t appear in House Bill 168. It’s a red herring and legislators shouldn’t fall for it.

On behalf of Anheuser-Busch’s Kentucky workers, we are asking the legislature to protect our jobs. These hard-working people have fought to build a business for the last four decades; now, their futures are threatened by well-connected, greedy special interests. It’s simply outrageous for a state that depends so heavily on direct foreign investment to do this to a good corporate citizen.

Our workers now go to bed every night wondering if they’ll have jobs in the next few months. Retirement plans, college funds, mortgage payments … these are the things at stake in this fight.

In a world where governments grope for ways to create and save jobs, all the Kentucky legislature has to do is vote no on House Bill 168. There’s 200 good jobs saved, all by casting the right vote.

Damon Williams is Director of Sales and Marketing for Anheuser-Busch of Louisville.

News and Updates

Anheuser-Busch Releases New TV and Digital Ad Opposing HB 168


March 2. 2015

Louisville Business First

No to House Bill 168

Damon Williams

February 24. 2015

Anheuser-Busch Releases Web Video Opposing HB 168


February 4. 2015

Damon Williams Interview on Powers That Be- WHAS, Louisville


Damon Williams Interview on Live with Lee- WVLK, Lexington


Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Rescinds Opposition to Owensboro Purchase


The Louisville Courier-Journal

Kentucky beer distribution battle draws debate

Gregory A. Hall

January 19. 2015

Louisville Business First

Craft Beers Continue to Boom in KY, Fat Tire Now Coming Here

David A. Mann

January 7. 2015

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Anheuser-Busch Completes Purchase of Owensboro Distributor

Joy Campbell

December 17. 2014

The Louisville Courier-Journal

Judge: Kentucky must OK beer distributorship

Gregory A. Hall

November 14, 2014

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Kentucky judge orders A-B distributor license to proceed

By: Lisa Brown, The Post-Dispatch

November 14, 2014

The Louisville Courier-Journal

Could trouble be brewing with Ky. beer businesses?

Bob Kelley, Special to The Courier-Journal

November 14, 2014​

Bowling Green Daily News

Battle brewing over beer rights

By Jim Waters

November 7, 2014

Press Release 

Anheuser-Busch Asks Court to Order State ABC  Administrator to Approve Budweiser of Owensboro License Transfer

October 21, 2014

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Anheuser-Busch files lawsuit to force ABC to grant distributor’s license

By Joy Campbell

October 21, 2014

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Anheuser-Busch Distributor Sale Should Move Forward

By Bob Kelley, Region VP, Anheuser Busch

October 15, 2014