Charles Smarr recently attended the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Smarr was the moderator for the panel entitled, “21st Century Challenges for the Regulators”. Panelists were Murphy Painter, Commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, Victoria Horton,Esq., President of the California Beer & Beverage Distributors, and Max Hess, Esq., of the law firm of Chorey, Taylor & Fine, Atlanta, Georgia.

The panel discussed the new challenges state liquor administrators are facing as they move into the 21st Century. Mr. Smarr began the session by addressing the biggest challenge for regulators today and that is obtaining sufficient funding. Mr. Smarr suggested an approach similar to TTB’s recent proposal for self-funding by receiving funding from industry fees in order to stabilize agency budgets to enable the state liquor administrators to effectively enforce the state liquor control laws and carry out their missions.

Commissioner Painter addressed the new challenges facing state liquor administrators in the 21st century from the perspective of a state regulator. Ms. Horton discussed current three-tier issues in California and how these issues are presenting state administrators with new challenges. Mr. Hess provided his perspective regarding the challenges facing state liquor administrators from a legal standpoint. Mr. Hess discussed what state administrators and their legal counsel can do to prepare for 21st Amendment and Sherman antitrust lawsuits and possible defenses to these types of legal challenges such as those raised in the Manuel v. Louisiana case.