Minnesota's shutdown causing problems for Chicao-based MillerCoors

Daily Herald wire services
Posted7/13/2011 2:01 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota's state government shutdown is causing a big problem for Chicago-based brewing giant MillerCoors.

The state told MillerCoors it must pull its beer from Minnesota bars, restaurants and stores because it failed to renew brand-label registrations that cost $30 apiece before the state government shut down July 1, the Public Safety Department said.

The company disputes that it failed to file the paperwork and fees in time for the 39 brands and is talking with state officials, said Julian Green, a spokesman for the No. 2 U.S. beer company.

"We're hoping that for the consumers in Minnesota, as well as the retailers and the distributors who depend on this to make a living, we can bring some resolution," Green said in a telephone interview.
The registrations, which must be renewed every three years, are required to manufacture, distribute or sell alcohol in the state, said Doug Neville, a spokesman for the Minnesota Public Safety Department.
The state has asked the company for a plan showing how it will remove the beer, and wants that to happen "within days," Neville said in a telephone interview from St. Paul. The department has no choice, he said.

"They're unable technically to either distribute or sell their product in the state," Neville said. "There's no room within the statute for us to make any accommodation."

The registrations expired June 13, the renewals couldn't be processed before the shutdown and the workers who process the registrations have been laid off, Neville said. Further, the computer system is offline, he said.

The brewer submitted its paperwork and $1,170 in fees, Green said.

The company is a joint venture between SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co. The affected brands include Miller, Miller Lite, Coors Light and Foster's, Green said. Sales figures weren't available, though Minnesota is "one of our top markets," he said.

State agents are checking to see whether other brewers may be affected, Neville said.
The Minnesota stalemate, the longest of the nation's six state-government shutdowns since 2002, began July 1 after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to resolve an impasse about how to address a $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans want spending cuts alone, and Dayton is pushing for additional revenue to preserve services. The shutdown has idled about 23,000 workers, closed agencies and stopped construction projects.