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 worst thing. This bill can create pretty egregious results but her thoughts seemed to be “let’s get this right”. The language in the bill is now substantively different from what is sitting in the House and will probably just make it tougher to get things through the legislative process before the session ends.

When I mention the potential egregious nature of the bill, I’m mostly referring to the fact that it creates further protectionist laws for distributors. It is already impossible for a brewery to terminate a relationship with their distributor in any sort of a timely fashion, even if the distributor spends very little or no time actually trying to sell a given brewery’s product. On the other hand, if that distributor orders beer from the brewery, even if it’s to basically let that beer sit in a warehouse and keep it out of the hands of retailers, the brewery must get the beer to the distributor within a reasonable amount of time. This proposed bill would force breweries to sell their beer to a distributor and buy it back just to sell it for off-premises consumption if it is in anything other than a growler. Mitch Rubin of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association (ABInBev Distributors) and Eric Criss of the Beer Industry of Florida (MillerCoors Distributors) attended but did not speak. Rubin perhaps attended to take notes and protect the interests of Senate President Don Gaetz, who doesn’t understand the relevant laws or the proposed bills, but wants a happy friend.

Here are the relevant differences between the bill as filed and the amended bill:

SPB 7120 SP7120 (as amended)
Prohibits gallon growler Allows gallon growler
Sales for off-premises consumption in growlers only Sales for off-premises consumption in growlers only
No delivery of growlers No delivery of growlers
Brewpubs cannot ship between their own premises Brewpubs cannot ship between their own premises
Removes come-to-rest requirement for distributors (prev applied only to brewpubs) Removes come-to-rest requirement for distributors
No “loopholes” Removed the “anything not specifically authorized … is prohibited” language
Lowers brewers surety bond amount