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Flawed Logic

A couple more articles were published today regarding the beer legislation in Florida’s Senate. One of the articles is from Michigan. While there are people learning and writing about the ridiculous nature of the legislation in other markets, it still seems that some of those in the Senate still don’t truly understand the relevant context of the legislation.

According to one article, Senator Kelli Stargel, the sponsor of SB 1714, said the craft industry has thrived under the exception originally created to allow Busch Gardens to sell its beer directly to consumers. The thriving craft beer industry means more taxes collected by the State of Florida. More importantly, the exception was created to promote tourism, not to promote only Busch Gardens. The exception never specifies theme parks or theme parks developed by Anheuser-Busch. There is a reason for that. Tourism is good for Florida and its economy whether […]

By |April 15th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Come-To-Rest Exception

Florida likes to collect taxes. They want to ensure they get all of them. That’s not a Florida thing. Every government wants what they perceive to be theirs and every government wants to collect revenues.  Florida ranks in the top 10 in the United States in state excise tax rates on beer.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank: The Florida Senate’s Committee on Regulated Industries (chaired by Senator Kelli Stargel) introduced a bill that would remove one of the very requirements that purportedly exists to control and monitor that tax revenue. That requirement is the come-to-rest requirement (proper record keeping and thus proper tax collection is easier to verify with checks and balances).

On Tuesday, Senator Jack Latvala exposed Kelli Stargel’s lack of any true understanding of SB 1714 and, with time short in the committee meeting, he clearly felt […]

By |April 10th, 2014|Blog|3 Comments

Amendments to SB 1714 (update)

I mentioned on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KomlossyLaw) this past weekend that the deadline for amendments, including proposed committee substitutes and delete everything amendments, to SB 1714 (the bad beer bill in the Senate), was today (Monday, April 7, 2014) at 3:00.  The deadline has come and gone and the proposed amendments are as follows:

While the original bill would only include bottles of 32, 64 and 128 ounces to be sold as growlers, the amendment from Senator Stargel would include all sizes between (and including) 32 ounces and one gallon within the definition of a “growler”.

Senator Latvala filed seven amendments, including one that would delete the specified growler sizes altogether and allow for any size growler and also specifically included plastic as an appropriate container type for a growler.

Latvala’s other amendments would do the following:

  • Removes the language requiring a brewery to sell its […]
By |April 7th, 2014|Blog|3 Comments

Beer Bills Bring Dishonesty and Half-Truths

This blog was inspired by Mitch Rubin’s recent comments (proclaiming to support craft beer) that were reported in the Gainesville Sun. Mitch Rubin is the executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association (this is the group that represents ABInBev and has generally done their bidding). Rubin, who has cited “public health concerns” in the past when asked about blocking growler bills, again noted the need to protect the three tier system.  As we discussed previously, the three tier system isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  Plus, with groups like the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association doing what Anheuser Busch’s money tells them to do, does the three tier system really operate as it is meant to or the way that Mitch Rubin claims it needs to? The largest manufacturer is influencing the political process via one of those tiers that Rubin claims must be […]

By |April 3rd, 2014|Blog|2 Comments

Update on Senate Bill SPB 7120

We talked last week about SPB 7120, which received consideration from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee yesterday.

Early Wednesday morning (the day that the bill received consideration), Senator Audrey Gibson (representing a portion of Duval County) filed an amendment that would have caused 7120 to follow the amended language of HB 1329 (which essentially followed the previously filed HB 7075). Gibson seemingly filed the amendment in an attempt to create consistency with the House Bill. She spoke for a bit on Wednesday and noted the importance of the craft beer industry in Florida and noted its ability to revitalize neighborhoods. Stories of such revitalization have made news across the country (look to Oakland, portions of Kentucky and Cleveland for example). Gibson was right, but she withdrew her amendment early in the process after apparently realizing/determining that any language to be added to the bill would need work. It’s not the […]

By |March 27th, 2014|Blog|4 Comments

Big Beer Bill Filed in Senate

The Committee on Regulated Industries has filed a proposed committee bill (SPB 7120) in the Senate, backed, presumably, by Big Beer (generally the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association who appear beholden to Anheuser Busch).  Florida Senate President Don Gaetz acknowledged  earlier that “one of very best friends is an Anheuser-Busch distributor” and that he will vote however his buddy tells him to vote.  He was unable to explain any of the issues or provide any further reasoning for why he would back a bill created to stifle a burgeoning industry in Florida.  He did tell the AP writer the following: “I don’t know”. It’s true. He doesn’t. Gaetz humorously vowed earlier to encourage ethical government decisions (oops). 

The Committee on Regulated Industries includes Maria Lorts Sachs, who filed an amendment to kill last year’s growler bill.  Her amendment last year would have restricted growler […]

By |March 21st, 2014|Blog|4 Comments

Don’t pay an attorney just to file your trademark application(s).

BeerPhoto

I recently reviewed a listing of applied-for trademarks which demonstrate that many attorneys are clearly not providing their clients with substantive information regarding whether their marks are likely to register and why/why not.  Many attorneys clearly don’t take the time to discuss the trademark process with their clients.  They don’t seem to provide information regarding other marks in existence that may be cited in a refusal based upon a likelihood of confusion.  They don’t seem to explain that a descriptive mark cannot be reserved using an intent to use application or that if that mark is eventually put to use, the effective date will switch to the date it is placed in use rather than the date the application is filed (and thus falling behind any later-filed marks).  After seeing a number of these marks that suggest a […]

By |March 12th, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|3 Comments

Florida Beer Compromise?

With the legislative session underway and the insulting HB 1329 filed, now is probably a good time to look at the other malt beverage bills out there to see what they are up to. HB 1329, filed on Monday, may have the affect of being so utterly ridiculous that it diverts attention from the other malt beverage bills. Those bills are likely to get some edits and turn into “compromises”.  HB 7075 may be that compromise. The folks behind the drafting of the Big Beer Bill may hope they can have people “look over there” while unfavorable changes are made to the other malt beverage bills.

Here is a rundown:

HB 7075 – The “Compromise” Bill to HB 1329? (filed last Friday, February 28. 2014)

  • Allows self-distribution of up to 3,000 gallons
  • Allows for a “taproom” on the brewery premises without the need for a separate vendor’s license
  • Brewers could sell their own […]
By |March 6th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

The Big Beer Bill to Stifle Florida Craft Beer was Filed in the House

The bill we knew was coming (“Big Beer Bill”) in the aftermath of the self serving comments from Eric Criss just a month ago was filed in the Florida House of Representatives yesterday.  Criss is president of Beer Industry of Florida, Inc., a Tallahassee-based trade association of Florida’s largest beer distributors.

Criss (not so) implicitly gave the beer distributors credit for drunk driving fatalities, arrests and convictions dropping.  He added that it was the three tier system that followed prohibition and the role of distributors that helped curb social problems such as high-volume drinking, domestic violence and worse (credit to him for an attempt to instill fear in the hearts of unsuspecting readers that have not yet reached the part of the article that says who he is and why he is writing the piece).  Of course, the misplaced argument fails to mention that other laws […]

By |March 4th, 2014|Blog|15 Comments

Is a Mandatory Three Tier System Necessary?

The three tier system has been in place since the repeal of Prohibition. Some advocate for it (large distributors and the brewing giants whose beer they distribute) and others don’t believe a strict mandatory three tier system is necessary to accomplish the goals it is designed to promote (me, craft brewers).  I am writing this to provide just a bit of background, a bit of opinion and to perhaps stimulate discussion.

The Three Tier System: (Shortly) How/Why?

Prohibition was a disaster.  As it neared its end, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. commissioned a study by Raymond Fosdick (attorney) and Albert Scott (engineer) to provide the states with guidance on regulating alcohol.  The 21st Amendment ended prohibition and provided the states with control over regulating the production and sale of alcohol. Fosdick and Scott made it the highest priority to prevent a system that allowed tied-houses.  A tied […]

By |January 27th, 2014|Blog|6 Comments