Over the past couple of years, there's been a lot of talk about helping small businesses to grow. And it makes sense. In a slowly recovering economy, wouldn't you want to do what is possible to allow small companies to expand and hire?
Well, apparently not.
In order to help bring down costs -- and thereby expand -- the Florida Brewers Guild is pushing for HB 0715, a bill that would legalize the standard 64-ounce growlers that are most common in the craft beer industry.
Unfortunately, it has not yet been allowed on to the Florida House of Representatives' agenda. But there's still a chance. Read on for details.
On March 21, Senate bill SB 1344 unanimously passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Now the House companion, HB 0715, has to pass through the House Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee. Unfortunately, Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) is currently refusing to put the bill on the agenda.
However, there is still a chance the bill can make its way to the committee. The agenda is not determined until the day before the committee meets, which will take place some time next week.
The guild is hoping individual citizens reach out to Mayfield in support of the bill. According to Mike Halker, president of the Florida Brewers Guild, "Maybe we're not on the agenda today, but that doesn't say we can't be there tomorrow. We're trying to encourage Rep. Mayfield to see the bill."
At the time of publication, Clean Plate Charlie reached out to Mayfield's office for an official position but had not heard back.
The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association -- the state's largest Budweiser distributor -- is the largest opponent of the bill.
Just before the bill made its way to the first Senate hearing, there was an attempt to add a last-minute amendment. The addendum, which was favored by the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, would have made changes to the licenses issued to craft breweries and would have allowed only the smallest breweries to act as vendors. Larger breweries such as Cigar City would not have been allowed to sell beer from tasting rooms had it gone through.
The late-filed amendment to the bill was sponsored by Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach). Although it was not considered by the committee, Sachs received a huge backlash by craft beer enthusiasts. According to followthemoney.org, Sachs had received $3,000 in contributions from the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association from 2006 to 2012.
Why is this 64-ounce container creating such an uproar? It's the industry standard, thereby making it less expensive. Because the 64-ounce growlers are mass-produced, the costs are lower. Rather than filling two 32-ounce growlers, breweries could fill one less expensive container, not only reducing costs but saving much-needed space at the same time. For breweries, the 64-ounce growler is a more efficient way of selling products to customers looking to take beer home.
Sales from tasting rooms are a key part of craft breweries' business. In 2011, sales from the tasting room at Cigar City reached $1.5 million, which helped with the brewery's expansion. In a slowly growing economy, aren't we supposed to be looking for small businesses to grow?
If you would like to see the 64-ounce growler bill pass, contact Rep. Mayfield. Call 850-717-5054, or visit her Facebook page here.
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