tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Monday, Apr 23, 2018
  • Home

Fla. House speaker says craft beer bill has an ‘uphill’ slog

Speaker Will Weatherford on Tuesday gave another twist to the House knife embedded in the side of the Senate’s bill to regulate Florida’s craft beer industry.

Because of procedural rules, “at this stage in the session, it would require a two-thirds (vote) to bring it to the floor,” said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “I think that bill has an uphill battle in the Florida House.”

Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, stood outside the House chamber a few hours earlier and made similar comments. She supports homegrown businesses and locally-produced craft beer.

The Senate had earlier passed its bill restricting brewers making more than 2,000 kegs a year – or 31,000 U.S. gallons – from selling no more than 20 percent of their beverages themselves. The rest has to go through distributors.

Not coincidentally, Tampa’s Pepin Distributing Co. issued a press release Tuesday night in support of the bill (SB 1714).

“We strongly urge the Florida House to consider taking up and supporting this good public policy ... so that craft breweries can be in compliance with Florida law,” said company CEO Tom Pepin.

The company gave $1,000 to the 2016 re-election effort of the bill’s Senate sponsor, Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, campaign finance records show. Pepin himself gave another $1,000.

The legislative session is scheduled to end Friday. As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the clock on the 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote on the state budget had yet to start.