Corruption, Florida, and Craft Beer
So unless you have been living under a rock or simply do not follow the craft beer scene in Florida… and you do not follow me on Twitter or Instagram or don’t like my page on Facebook, you may have noticed somewhat of a kerfuffle in regards to some proposed legislation in Tallahassee regarding craft beer, local breweries, and growlers. Numerous people have written about it, many people are (understandably) worried, angry, and up in arms about some of the moves being made that could have devastating effects on the industry in the state. Rather than list everything that has happened, been posted, and commented on (there has been a lot since March 4th!), I will direct you to a few informative articles:
It would be shocking if it were not so typical. Although I will say this kind of blatant influence-buying is pretty bold. One of the ugliest things I have seen, though, is how some of the anger and frustration within the Florida craft beer community was turned inward. Local breweries being called out and harassed because they had signed with one of the distributors who is supporting the anti-Florida beer efforts (because that is what they are, make no mistake). People who have helped build the industry being called out as apologists and threatened with boycotts of their breweries, simply because they made a business decision that they thought would be good for their future. Maybe they were wrong and made a bad choice, maybe not. But to call for their boycott? To question their commitment to craft beer in the state? It is insulting and ridiculous. And it is exactly what the international corporations that are pulling the strings want us to do. Turn against one another, and weaken the fight against the real enemy: lobbyists and corrupt politicians.
So here is the bottom line:
If you call yourself a conservative Republican, you should be mad as hell at these attempts because they are job killers, an attempt to over-regulate, and are bad for small business and the free market. Senate President Don Gaetz and Rep. Ray Rodrigues both claim to be “free-market, anti-regulation, pro-business legislators”. These bills are anything but.
If you call yourself a liberal or progressive Democrat, you should be mad as hell, too. This is corporate influence at its worst, anti-consumer at its core, and big money spent to squash the little guys trying to get ahead. Unlike some, I do not think corporations are people, and their interests should not supersede those of the people of Florida.
If you call yourself an independent or anywhere else on the spectrum, or you just love locally brewed beer you should be mad as hell. And honestly, even if you do not care about craft beer at all. The Senate President openly said that he will do whatever his AB/Inbev buddy tells him to do. He does not care about the people he was sent to office to represent, or a growing and exciting industry that is bringing positive attention and recognition to the state. And gods know Florida could use some of that!
There is a petition online aimed at stopping these bills. I urge you to sign it here.
Also, I ask that you call, write, and email your local legislators (house and senate) and voice your disapproval of these efforts. Even if you do not live in Florida, please contact the legislators anyway. Let them know that Florida craft beer is gaining recognition nationally and is also a growing tourist draw.
It is a tough fight, but an important one. There are a couple of bills written that would be good for Florida beer, HB283 and SB406 that simply legalize 64oz. growlers and allow beer tastings in grocery stores and markets (like they can do with wine). No arbitrary restrictions, no job-killing measures… just plain, straightforward and common sense changes to the existing, flawed laws.
So there you have it folks. Keep up the good fight.