Minimum Markup Repeal Legislation Circulating

Wisconsin’s “Unfair Sales Act” (Wis. Stat. §100.30) prohibits the sale of merchandise at less than cost and requires a specified minimum markup above the wholesale cost for alcohol, tobacco, and motor vehicle fuel. Several legislators are currently circulating bills that would amend or repeal the Unfair Sales Act to lower costs for consumers on prescription drugs and other general merchandise.

Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) has circulated a bill (LRB 0123) that would exempt prescription drugs from the Unfair Sales Act, allowing drugs to be sold at less than cost. For example, Walmart sells a 30-day supply of over 40 different, commonly-prescribed drugs for only $4, but many of these drugs are more expensive in Wisconsin because of the Unfair Sales Act.

Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) have circulated LRB 1031, which exempts prescription drugs and general merchandise from the Unfair Sales Act.  The bill does not affect Unfair Sales Act or minimum markup requirements for groceries, gasoline, alcohol or tobacco.

Ott, Stroebel, and Sen. Dave Craig (R-Big Bend) have also circulated LRB 1032, which repeals the Unfair Sales Act altogether. The bill would eliminate the prohibition on below-cost sales and the minimum markup requirements for all merchandise.

All three minimum markup repeal bills have been circulated for cosponsorship. In the 2017-18 session, minimum markup repeal legislation received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business & Tourism, but did not advance further.