Boots & Sabers

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2139, 05 Feb 16

Minimum Markup Lives On

With all of the good things this legislature has gotten done, it’s a crying shame that they caved to lobbyists over the interests of Wisconsin consumers on this one.

The sponsor of a bill to repeal Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act, which bars retailers from selling products for less than their cost, said lawmakers are not prepared to pass the measure in 2016.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, speaking to radio host Charlie Sykes on Friday, said she’s “a realist” about the bill’s near-term prospects as lawmakers enter the closing weeks of the 2015-2016 session. Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, said she’s shifting to “educational mode” to foster support for the bill in future sessions.

“There isn’t enough support in the caucus to repeal” the law, Vukmir said Friday.

The act, also known as the minimum markup law, prevents Wisconsin wholesalers and retailers from selling products at less than cost. It also requires retailers to impose a minimum profit markup on certain products, such as fuel, tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

Wisconsinites will spend millions more than their neighbors on goods because Republican lawmakers can’t overcome their fear of the grocers lobby. What is even more frustrating is that none of the opponents will actually offer a defense of this ridiculous law. Instead, they hide in the shadows and the leadership is too polite to call them out by name.


2139, 05 February 2016


  1. Dan

    Ahh, Wisconsin is still in the dark ages because of the minimum mark up law.
    Where I live, gas prices range from $1.75 to $2.30. Guess who gets the business?
    But we also have choices. For instance, Wal-Mart does cut prices but there are a lot of people who don’t go there because of the lines, the cheap products and various other reasons.
    Someday, WI. you will grow up and become a big state like the rest of the country.

  2. Steve Austin

    I might be the only conservative who’s just fine with the min. markup law as a protectionist measure for smaller midwest operators.

    As Ace of Spades eloquently said earlier in the week, we’re going to “pay” in some way here. We can do it with more government benefits to keep the peace among our ever growing lower class, thus avoiding Bernie Sanders communist solutions or we can accept some “inefficiencies” in the market that keep people more people employed in middle management jobs w/more locally run companies in existence as well. Here’s his piece called “Choose your heresy”. It is worth a read.

    His comments were in regard to immigration both legal and illegal, but I think the same thing applies here in regard to trade policy, both local and national.

    Many of these “barriers” and our antitrust law were written in an era when you did have a few large corporations running roughshod. In the end those corporations not only become dangerous as to political power but they also limited economic freedom. Sometimes you need those speed bumps to prevent monopoly even though in the short run it means we pay an extra 5 cents to Wisconsin based Quik Trip for gas.

    I’m all for dumping minimum markup when we get active and robust anti-trust enforcement. Until then, I’m fine with the GOP not overturning the law. Would rather err on protecting some smaller business and the higher paying management jobs they provide us with.

  3. Fraley

    It would be easier to swallow if the legislators had the guts to publicly state their support or opposition to the Vukmir / Ott bills, or at least had the common decency to hold a public hearing on a bill that has widespread support across the state.

  4. Northern Pike

    Minimum markup exist for the same reason breweries must sell their beer through a distributor and auto manufacturers are required to sell their vehicles through local dealerships. Our sainted “small businesses” are some of the worst offenders in carving out economic protectionism.

  5. Owen

    For the record, I think those laws should be abolished too. I see no reason why, with today’s technology, I can’t order a car from the manufacturer online and have it shipped (or pick it up).

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