The US Department of the Treasury published a Request for Information in the Federal Register on June 14, 2017 requesting comments and recommendations that will be used to assist the Agency in identifying existing regulations that can either be modified, repealed, or replaced to achieve meaningful reductions in the regulatory burdens imposed on industry, including the alcohol beverage industry. Though the RFI asked interested parties to submit comments to the Public Docket by July 31, 2017, a group of alcohol beverage trade associations submitted a request to the Department of the Treasury on July 27, 2017 to extend the comment period, and the Agency responded by extending the comment period to October 31, 2017.

The impetus for the Department of the Treasury’s request for comments and information comes from two Executive Orders issued by President Trump earlier this year. On January 30, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” which notes that the policy of the Executive Branch is to be prudent and financially responsible in the expenditure of funds, from both public and private sources, and that it is essential to manage the costs associated with complying with federal regulations. Further, on February 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which is intended to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people. Executive Order 13777 directs each Agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (RRTF) to evaluate existing regulations and identify those that may merit repeal, replacement, or modification. Section 3(d) of the Executive Order provides that, at a minimum, each RRTF must attempt to identify regulations that:

  • Eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation;
  • Are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;
  • Impose costs that exceed benefits;
  • Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
  • Are inconsistent with the requirements of the Information Quality Act or the guidance issued pursuant to that Act; or
  • Derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.

The Presidents’ Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry submitted substantive comments to the Treasury on this topic. However, we expect additional comments from other trade associations and industry members will be submitted before the October 31, 2017 deadline. In summary, the comments submitted to date from the Presidents’ Forum addressed the following alcohol beverage regulatory issues: product labeling; use of the term “natural” on product labeling to identify natural ingredients in a product; regulated activities at distilled spirits plants; and the holding and transfer of distilled spirits post-processing.

It is still too early to gauge what will result from the Department of the Treasury’s initiative to review existing regulations to identify those that may be modified, repealed, or replaced. However, the RFI clearly presents an opportunity for alcohol beverage industry members to make their case to the Department for changing onerous regulations before what will be a newly established venue – i.e., the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, which could very well be inclined to act in addressing burdensome regulations and other regulatory inequities of concern to industry. Further, as noted above, we anticipate that various members of the alcohol beverage industry will be submitting substantive comments in support of reducing regulatory burdens before the comment period closes on October 31, 2017.