I’m not a WWE fan, but for some people watching the Smackdown wrestling shows is the height of entertainment. I’ll give fans that right, except when it involves real life, Florida lawmakers, and the craft brewing industry. And that’s exactly what came to mind as I was thinking about how our Florida Senate is treating our Craft Brewers. It’s a Smackdown of epic proportions along the lines of David and Goliath – complete with senate comments befitting such an event.
If you’re like me and think Smackdowns and grandstanding belong elsewhere, you GOTTA make calls to your senators on April 29. (Scroll to the end of this post for details.)
If you frequent social media (Facebook or Twitter) you may already know about the nearly dozen Craft Beer (labeled “malt beverages”) bills working their way through the Florida legislature. Rather than taking the lead to inspire, encourage, and motivate this burgeoning industry in Florida, we’re the laughing stock of the nation as “Big Beer” lobbyists stage a season long, series of Smackdowns against Florida’s craft brewers.
Today’s episode “Mother Stargel” vs “Anarchy Brew Kids”
Today Senate Bill (SB) 1714 was read, amended, debated, and ultimately advanced to the third reading in the two hour match-up. In a way-too-typical fashion, senators debated and tossed out brewing terms: keg, barrel, gallon, container, growler, as if doing so imparted knowledge. Finally the bill sponsor Senator Kelli Stargel, admitted that she didn’t have numbers to support her bill’s language (2000 kegs as a brewery size limit,) but knew how many million barrels of beer Anheuser Busch brews.
The Smackdown ramped up when Senator Stargel argued for a mountain of regulations to reign in illegal behavior of craft brewers, currently operating under the decades old tourism exemption law used by Anheuser Busch theme parks. Not doing so, she continued, could create Florida lawsuits in our highly litigious world.
She charged multiple times at craft brewers by asserting they want to do whatever they want without any regulations whatsoever. Wow – score one for Mother Stargel against the Anarchy Brew Kids.
(Sidenote: It’s curious to note that since AB was bought by InBev and no longer runs Sea World or Busch Gardens, such laws no longer serve their best interests!)
Not satisfied to call out their rogue behavior, Senator Stargel went on to call craft brewers the “little guys,” who are brewing “itty bitty bits of beer,” and saying that the 2000 keg ceiling would help them “while they’re little and growing.” Bam! (I almost waited for the refrain “Kids, go to your rooms right now without dinner!”)
The final blow came when Senator Stargel professed that after listening to everything the craft brewers had to say, she crafted a bill amendment that would somehow rescue the fledgling industry (“not even one Florida brewer would go out of business”) Furthermore, she stated, the amended bill would NOT CAUSE ANY HARM TO ANYONE IN THE INDUSTRY; it would actually benefit them.
Program over, smack – down! Next up, the vote for SB1714 followed by many other episodes.
Your turn – You’ve Gotta Call…”National Call-in to Senators Don Gaetz, Kelli Stargel, and Your Senator” April 29, 2014
Phone#: (850) 487-5001
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senate President Gaetz to ask him to vote no on SB1714. It WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. In the past, he said he was pro small business and pro free market, so I urge him to follow through on those promises by voting NO to SB1714.”
2. Senator Kelli Stargel (Sponsor of SB 1714)
Phone#: (863) 284-4430
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senator Kelli Stargel to ask her to vote no on SB1714. It WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. Craft brewers are responsible parents, husbands, wives, and fellow voters who respect regulation of the industry, but this bill will hurt us all. I urge her to reconsider the importance of growth and respect in this industry by voting NO to SB1714.”
3. Your own senator (here is the link to the senate listing):
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senator __________ to ask his/her position on the upcoming vote on SB1714.
If the answer is that the Senator will vote no, thank him/her and say that you are proud that they will vote No.
If the answer is undecided or they plan to vote yes, tell him/her that senate bill 1714 “WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. Craft brewers are responsible parents, husbands, wives, and fellow voters who respect regulation of the industry, but this bill will hurt us all. I urge him/her to recognize the importance of growth and respect in this industry by voting NO to SB1714.”
It’s up to you! If you support small business – join us and make the calls.
If increased regulation in business and unregulated Smackdowns in the Florida legislature go on, we’re going to need more craft beer than ever, that is if we can find one still in business in Florida.
One final note, I’m wondering how Senator Stargel will feel if her bill becomes law and the first craft brewer to go out of business sues her for the false promises she made today… Oh, but this isn’t real life and WWE Smackdown is just pretend… or is it?
Wow, enough said – I need a beer.
To your safe imbibing!