Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Growler bill pits Florida microbreweries against big-money beer interests

Growler bill pits Florida microbreweries against big-money beer interests

Florida’s Republican lawmakers frequently talk about creating a business-friendly climate. But Monday, the Senate Rules Committee voted 9-4 for a bill that would heavily restrict a burgeoning industry in Florida: craft breweries.

What started as an effort by Florida microbreweries to sell beer to consumers in popular half-gallon “growler'’ containers has morphed into a measure some say could put them out of business by strictly limiting retail operations.

SB 1714 is heavily backed by the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which has controlled beer distribution in the state for decades. The group has at least doubled its contributions to the re-election campaigns of senators who have voted on the measure, which was approved Monday by the powerful Rules Committee.

Call it a sobering civics lesson in the power of campaign cash.