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Craft Brewery-Killing Bill Advances In Senate

Categories: Politicks

Thumbnail image for beer2.jpg.jpg
Photo by Infrogmation via Wikimedia Commons
In 47 states, beer drinkers can happily purchase and imbibe from 64-ounce growlers, the glass jugs commonly sold at smaller or craft breweries. In Florida, Prohibition-era laws have kept the size illegal, prompting a years-long effort by Sunshine State craft brewers and supporters to join the rest of the nation and drop the ban.

The result was Florida House Bill 1329, which proposed legalizing the larger size. But after the bill made it to the state Senate in late March, an amendment was added -- thanks to the influence of industry titan Anheuser-Busch -- that critics say would effectively cut Florida's nascent craft brewing industry at its knees: Craft brewers would be prohibited from selling their own products themselves, instead being forced to pay a distributor to act as a middleman.

See also: Florida Bill Would Force Craft Breweries To Sell Their Beer To Distributors Then Buy it Back

"Say I make my product at my facility and I have a place of sale at my own facility," Johnathan Wakefield, the owner of soon-to-open Miami craft brewery J. Wakefield Brewing, tells Riptide. "Now I have to pay somebody else to sell my product? At my own place? That's like... the Mafia."

On Monday, the bill crept along further in the Senate, passing a rules committee vote 9-4. The distributor requirement is supported by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-1st District), who appears to under the influence of lobbyists representing Anheuser-Busch InBev distributors, the main driver of the amendment.

Several craft brewery owners marched on the state capitol Monday to protest:

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Photo by Proof Brewing Company via Facebook.
A photo of the brewery owners posted on Proof Brewing Company's facebook page.
"It almost makes you feel like they're trying to roll everything back to Prohibition," Wakefield says of the bill. "What these people are trying to do goes against everything that the United States is about."

Because Wakefield plans to open his new brewery in Wynwood before July 1, his business would in part be grandfathered in, he says, meaning he would still be required to pay a markup distributor cost but could at least maintain a tasting room to retail his own product. Any brewers that were to open after July 1 would be limited to distribution sales only -- meaning no tasting rooms, and likely no new craft breweries at all.

"By doing this, you're basically sending us back like 30 or 40 years," Wakefield says. "The only people it's helping are the people that are already making a crap-ton of money. It is not helping small business."

Send your tips to trevor.bach@miaminewtimes.com, or follow @trevorbach.

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38 comments
Chard Beauregarde
Chard Beauregarde

Remember not to get muddled down in partisan politics, this is about senators bending to the whims of big businesses. Both sides are doing it, while we fight over semantics of what's essentially a one-party state: The big business party

Chard Beauregarde
Chard Beauregarde

Seriously, if everyone just takes 5 minutes out of their day and call their senator, we can upset their offices enough to reconsider their vote.

Edward Zawadzki
Edward Zawadzki

The only law there should ever be about beer is that it is cold...

Philip Fick
Philip Fick

I guess gaetz is a commie socialist pinko. Real republicans hate competition.

Joey Waves
Joey Waves

because #anheuserbusch thats why. #fuckbudweiser. #pisswater

Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster

But republicans are for small business right? Hypocrisies day in and day out.

Tais Rodriguez
Tais Rodriguez

The rich get richer while the little guys continue to struggle like crazy to make it. This is BS!

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

During Prohibition the mob ran booze, now it's big business and Republicans extorting the little guy.

Raul A Maestri Jr.
Raul A Maestri Jr.

.....can't blame Obama for this one. This one is all Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature beholden to the special interests that bankroll their campaigns and vacations.

Sean Danger Floyd
Sean Danger Floyd

BECAUSE OUR GOVERNMENT NO LONGER REPRESENTS PEOPLE, THATS WHY.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

......................just the same old same old here in sunny skies and shady people florida where the good olde boyz club stays loyal to their own rules

typically this mentality was to "screw the tourists" who would flock to the sun in winter season and spend on overpirced drinks and pay all manner of sales and use taxes and be subject to the odd parking violation expense that the visiting guests having to return north would have to pay no matter how contrived the charges

FLORIDA was the only state NOT to report during the 2012 presidnetial election as the vote here was "delayed" for so long after the election that romney simply conceeded the election to oBaMa - without a final certified tally from FLORIDA

but while the UNsuspecting tourists get screwed the year-round residents aren't treated any better as we have bad public transportation and terrible schools and generally corrupt politicians and elected administrators who only purpose is to line their own coffers and kick-backs and bribes

beer drinker should BOYCOTT ANHEUSER-BUSCH products

Sonny Palta
Sonny Palta

Newtimes - put up a pre-written tweet or email box on this article to contact people's congressperson with our distaste for this bill

Eddie Suarez
Eddie Suarez

aren't we a country of free market capitalism? a society of entrepreneurs? mom and pop shops busting their humps to succeed and live the american dream? Small business, job creators, and more talking points? Let the market decide, let the entrepreneurs entrepreneurs, don't kill mom and pops dream, regulations kill small business, and I thought job creators were above the law?

Dan Marino
Dan Marino

Follow the money that funds this nonsense. InBev is near by.

rayt1980
rayt1980

Boycott Anheuser-Busch...I never drink that crap anyway.

Alex Farley
Alex Farley

It's business as usual in TallahASSee. I wonder how much money Anheuser Busch's lobbyists are paying off the legislators to get this PoS law passed.

amcgbb
amcgbb

AB/INBEV sucks the life out of everything.. They suck!

gonecrazysouth
gonecrazysouth

This really needs to hit the desk of Anderson Cooper and all top media outlets, this cannot happen, its a racket!

Jesus Canete
Jesus Canete

They need to worry about better shit instead of beer.

gonecrazysouth
gonecrazysouth

Can somebody call Obama Barack, He'll take care of this, Or wait maybe not, he could but he wont then maybe he'll change his mind again and help out the small business owner oh but wait no lets "re-think this through".  All we need to do is stop buying Bud, plain and simple, create a mediocre cheap local brew and mkt the heck out of it as to why not to buy Bud, the lobbyist reason.

Michael Mulcahy
Michael Mulcahy

Similar to states tackling tesla for direct sales....govt types remember you serve the people not middle men

Ramona Venuto
Ramona Venuto

What about petitions that's overwhelming?? Would it help??

Christian Meighan
Christian Meighan

This is how "regulations" work. Big industry donate to the campaigns then their lobbyists come in to make sure their investment is turned into a "regulation." Regulations either crush competition or sets up parameters for government payouts that only "certain" entities can access.

Michael Feigin
Michael Feigin

We live in age of bought politicians. ... whole world calls it bribery, we call it lobbying ....

Sayad Khan
Sayad Khan

Anheuser-Busch is just mad because their beer sucks.

Alexander Fernandez
Alexander Fernandez

Same as the private car service. The pols are bought and paid for by big industry and syndicates.

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