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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Last-minute intrigue doesn’t sway House leadership from certainty of beer bill’s demise

Despite a trial balloon floated by a politically influential Tampa beer distributor, House leaders late Thursday continued to insist that a contentious beer regulation bill won’t make it out of this legislative session.

Tom Pepin, CEO of Pepin Distributing Co., told the Tampa Bay Business Journal earlier Thursday that he and craft beer interests worked out yet another version of the legislation.

“We have worked out all the details to get the bill heard on the floor,” he said.

Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, shot that idea down as soon as she heard it.

“Over the last 24 hours, the craft brewers and beer distributors have made great progress toward finding a common sense solution,” she said. “I am delighted that they are working together to reach a solution.

“However,” she added, “given that tomorrow is the last day of the 2014 session, I do not anticipate a bill this year.”

Young said she’ll help them bring any agreed-upon bill to the Legislature next year.

Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also on Thursday night said reviving the Senate bill (SB 1714) on the last day of session would require a two-thirds vote because it wasn’t fully vetted by the House.

Session is expected to end Friday night.

“I think the hill’s pretty steep,” he said. “I don’t think the incline has gotten any better for it.”

The Senate earlier this week 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.

If the bill goes nowhere, it means Florida will continue to be one of three states that does not allow a half-gallon growler, the name for the refillable glass jug used to take home beer from a brewery.

Despite the craft beer industry’s misgivings about the bill, it would have allowed 64-ounce growlers. Current Florida law allows quart-size and gallon-size growlers.