Miami, Fla.—Today, the Florida Senate passed an eleventh-hour measure that stands to cripple one of Florida’s few growing economic sectors: the craft beer industry. Senate Bill 1714’s aim is to protect powerful industry insiders from competition. Following passage of the bill, Ari Bargil, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, issued the following statement:
Sen. Stargel’s bill is a Trojan horse that stands to cripple Florida’s craft breweries.
Although the bill allows the sale of 64-ounce growlers, that may come at a heavy cost. It requires all but the smallest breweries to cease the sale of bottles or cans directly from their brewery. Instead, breweries must sell their own beer to a distributor, who then sells it right back to them, but only after marking up the price. The only purpose this serves is to drive up the price for an industry still in its infancy in Florida. In defense of the bill, Sen. Stargel likened the craft beer industry to a group of children, who need to be told by a parent what’s in their best interest.
Inexplicably, SB 1714, which essentially aims to treat start-up neighborhood breweries the same as it treats multinational brands, imposes these restrictions in the name of preserving the state’s Prohibition-era beverage laws. In a state that touts itself as “open for business,” the tavern doors have been slammed closed to one of its few encouraging signs of economic growth.
The bill must be approved by the House before the conclusion of this session if it is ultimately to be considered by Gov. Scott.
About the Institute for Justice: The Institute for Justice is a national, non-profit law firm that fights economic protectionism on behalf of entrepreneurs.