Georgia SR 1044 introduced to create joint Craft Brewery and Distillery Study Committee
UPDATE 03/01/16: Georgia SR 1044 did not pass by crossover day and the possibility of a joint study committee is dead. It could be amended to a Senate-only bill and would have until the end of session to pass. That may happen but it has not been decided for sure at this time.
A couple of weeks ago we reported on the filing of HR 1345 to create a House Study Committee on craft breweries and distilleries. If passed the study committee would assess laws and regulations in our neighboring states to see how Georgia could change to help improve our competitiveness in the industry. This Tuesday, Senate Resolution 1044 was introduced to create a joint study committee for the same purpose, if passed the study committee would be made up of 4 members of the Georgia House and 4 members of the Georgia Senate. I spoke with Nancy Palmer of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild to see what the filing in the Senate meant, and how might affect the House resolution.
Senator PK Martin (R-Lawrenceville) filed the resolution as he felt it was important to have coverage on the Senate side as well to increase the likelihood of having something passed. This moved a bit quicker than the HR due to the timing of introduction, however Senator Martin was still able to obtain 22 co-sponsors. The language in SR 1044 is a bit more aggressive than that of HR 1345, with some very direct statements of how other states are benefiting and Georgia is losing out due to our beer laws (see below).
Both resolutions will not pass, this is a one or the other situation, there are pros and cons to both resolutions. It would be quicker to have the House bill passed as it would not need to be voted on by the Senate, however if the Senate bill is passed and findings are presented it may hold more weight as it is a joint study committee. One big con to SR 1044 is that the Senate members in the committee would be appointed by the Senate President… Casey Cagle, who has a track record of not being very friendly to craft beer legislation.
Strong statements made in SR 1044
The resolution texts starts off with some strong statements about Georgia’s place in the craft beer sector as compared to our neighbors. It mentions that we rank 45th out of 5o states in craft breweries per capita, that 48 states allow direct sales and food sales at breweries, and 34 states allow self-distribution. The resolution also adds that North Carolina, with the same population as Georgia, employs more than twice the number of people in the craft beer industry, and that Georgia lost out to North Carolina for big breweries such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues – which have a $1.25 Billion impact on North Carolina’s economy. Finally it is noted that breweries in other states are 2.5x as profitable per barrel of beer produced as Georgia’s breweries.
If a study committee is created they would have until December 1st of this year to complete the study and issued a report. If not report is issued and approved by that date the committee would be abolished.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Contact your Senator and let them know you support the passage of SR 1044 – FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR
- Contact Senator Martin and thank him for his support of craft beer and better beer laws in Georgia
For more information on current legislative happenings visit www.gabeerlaws.com