We shared an article last week about the frustrations of Florida craft brewers being of being unable to sell their beer in the standard half-gallon growler size.
We discussed the potential “compromise” bill HB 1329 that was being sponsored by Rep Ray Rodrigues [R] as was willing to repeal the antiquated growler law in exchange for number of harsher restrictions on craft breweries. In order to earn the privilege that most breweries in America enjoy Florida brewers would have had to swallow restrictions like, “ban of full gallon growlers, ban of sales of bottles, cans, and kegs at the brewery, ban of sales of collaboration brews, and a ban of guest taps at the breweries.” Nothing short of a real effort at hamstringing the competition.
But craft brewers were surprised to see an amendment sponsored by Rep Greg Strube [R] that revoked most of the restrictions in Rep Rodrigues’ bill. If the new revised bill survives two more committees, breweries can begin to sell half-gallon growlers as well as more easily open tasting room without having to sacrifice the absurd restrictions in the original bill.
In an example that illustrates that Democracy can in fact work Rep Rodrigues has reversed his opinion on his own bill. Claiming the reversal was due to feedback from the public Rodrigues said, “it’s the legislative process at work. You get input from the public, you determine what the better policy is, and then you amend it as you go forward.”
I’m sure it had little to do with the grass-roots effort to kill the bill that resulted in Rodrigues’ office being swamped with calls complaining of the injustice of the bill from residents and business owners within his district.
It should be pointed out that Rep Rodrigues received $3,500 in donations from large beer distributors the month before filing his beer in the Florida State congress. This makes it pretty clear where the inspiration for his bill might have come from.
Unfortunately this victory comes with reservations. There is another bill SB 7120 which contains a lot of the same restrictions to original house bill.
While craft brewers and their supporters can have a few celebratory beers they shouldn’t take their eye off the ball.
Let’s hope that Florida legislatures make the right call in opening the markets to more competition among brewers large and small.