Mitch Perry Report 4.9.14: GOP's embrace of small businesses vanishes when it comes to Big Beer

It's become a staple of the 21st-century Republican Party mantra to celebrate entrepreneurs and small business people, sometimes to the exclusion of everyone else (which is the majority of the public). But for some reason, that sentiment appears to disappear among some Florida Republicans when it comes to craft breweries.

How else to explain the latest skirmish in the battle to get 64-ounce growlers legalized in the Sunshine State? A version of the bill the craft brewing industry has sought for four years was passed in the Senate Community Affairs Committee yesterday. In exchange for allowing the 64-ounce growlers, however, the bill would require the brewers to pay a distributor when selling their bottled or canned products to customers, even if the beer never leaves the building.

The lone dissenter on the committee was Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala, who along with Tampa Representative Dana Young has been a friend to local craft breweries in the Bay area and wants them to thrive — something you would think their GOP colleagues would agree with. 

But not when confronted with the arguments coming from "Big Beer." The distributors have a loud voice in Tallahassee public policy, frequently invoking the sacredness of the three-tier-system between manufacturers, distributors and retailers. That principle is important, but how much it should be revered seems a bit clouded. 

"Under the bill, you literally now have where the distributor comes in and says, ‘How many beers do you want to keep? Okay, you want to keep 10 cases of your own beer, how much are you going to pay us to keep those?’” said Josh Aubuchon yesterday. Aubuchon is a lawyer and lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild.

That provision is not in the House version of the legislation. It's hard to see how this will play out. When we spoke with Mitch Rubin from the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association last year, he said his biggest issue was the use of guest taps at craft breweries. But this bill has been about a whole lot more than that.

In other news… It's been four years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and there's still a lot we don't know about its deleterious effects on the native species in the Gulf. And what we do know isn't that encouraging, according to a new report. 

Charlie Crist leads Rick Scott by seven points in a new poll that the Rick Scott re-elect team immediately dismissed.

And Tampa celebrated its annual bicycle bash over the weekend.

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