Say No To Senate Bill SB1224

If you have not heard, the TN state senate will be voting on SB1224 this Tuesday. I have chosen to oppose the bill because of an amendment that would restrict the high gravity permits to only three breweries in the entire state. The bill started in the right direction by redefining high gravity beer. However, it took a severe turn for the worse with amendment 2, which is nothing but special interest deals in disguise. Don't believe me? Read the bill yourself. Please note- Yazoo is not part of those secret deals. They have had their high gravity permit for almost two years.

I am all for redefining the cap on craft beer, but not when the law discriminates against TN craft brewers and restrains their ability to compete in the marketplace.  Lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board. This bill is bad for craft beer, and puts TN craft brewers at a competitive disadvantage. The senate votes on this bill on Tuesday! I urge you to contact your state senators and tell them you oppose SB1224. Below is a sample letter from an anonymous TN brewer, and I think it sums up the situation very well:

"______________are opposed to Amendment No. 2 to SB1224 in its current form.

While we are not opposed to legislation that would allow the production of malt beverages greater than 5 % alcohol by weight, Amendment No. 2 to SB1224, as propose...d, would restrict this legitimate business activity to only three breweries in the state. This would leave the other 20 (approximate) breweries in the state at a competitive disadvantage.

Our businesses are growing concerns creating economic activity and, more importantly, new jobs, in the state of Tennessee . If the economic opportunity presented in Amendment No 2 to SB 1224 was available to all Tennessee breweries, we would support the amendment. However, as the Amendment is presently written, we would become a second class brewery even though we are required to pay the same taxes and have the same standards both federal and state as those brewers who are favored.

The standards put forth in the amendment for being permitted to brew high alcohol content beer in the proposed amendment are not uniform throughout Tennessee . In east Tennessee the favored brewer must be from a municipality whose population in the 2000 census is between 7700 and 7800 people and whose county population in the 2000 census is between 105,800 and 105,900. However the “standard” changes for West Tennessee . In West Tennessee there is no population rules but it must be a brewer who has the ability to brew two million (2,000,000) barrels of beer. The rules also state that only 1 brewery per Grand Division can qualify for the special permit.

This law is restrictive to commerce in Tennessee and will create a hardship to those brewers who qualify in every way to brew but cannot meet the special interest rules. I might add there is no restriction to out of state brewers to brew and import and high alcohol content beers in Tennessee ! "

I'll save you the detective work. The East TN favored brewer must be in.....Alcoa! That's right, that district Senator wants an out of state brewer (rumored to be Sierra Nevada) to set up shop there and get that special permit. And Memphis? A wisconsin-based brewery bought the old Coors building, so lawmakers wrote in those special requirements just for them. Don't get me wrong, I am pro business guy and I am all for bringing in new companies to TN. But what I don't support special interest deals that hurt our TN based brewers.


CRasH180 said...

Ok...ummm, they're doing it wrong. The Senate, I mean.

dg said...

Do you know what they mean in the bill by "pilot project"? It reads to me like this is the first step toward opening it up to everyone.

Smitty said...

DG- There are a few lawyers that are in the local craft beer circle, and they read the bill. For starters, they don't like it. As far as the pilot program, one of them said that the “Pilot Program”is supposed to provide feedback to the legislature. Yet the bill doesn’t say what the legislature is supposed to do with the feedback or why the feedback is needed. He suspected that it was just a guise to pass the bill. I agree with him because a few senators that have spoken with us craft beer constituents suspect that the amendment was to appease the anti-alcohol senators. In other words, they'll let Shelby and Blounty county get their deal and that's it. This is making my head hurt- ugh.


Martin D said...

give me a call at 865.617.0828

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