Today, April 22, 2014, the education and advocacy group Liberty First Network issued its analysis of SB 1714, which would force some brewers of beer into an anti-free market three tiered distribution system. As we wrote yesterday, the bill would force beer brewers in Florida who produce over 2,000 kegs of beer into a scheme forcing them to sell their product to a distributor rather than directly to customers creating an increase in taxes going to the State of Florida as well as increasing the cost to the consumer at the time of purchase.
In their analysis Liberty First Network tackles more of the background as to why this bill is sailing through the Florida legislature to the detriment of Florida consumers and why elected politicians who claim to be in favor of the free market and say they are for less regulation are supporting SB 1714. As is often said, 'Follow the money,' which is precisely what Liberty First Network does in their analysis. As they note, "This legislation is largely supported by the distribution companies and large corporations like Anheuser Busch. In this election cycle alone these companies have donated over $848,000 to candidates, legislators and PACs. $167,000 of that came directly from Anheuser Busch. The Republican Party of Florida received $283,920.50 and the Florida Democrat Party received $29,719.88. Current state senators have received $60,170, current state house representatives have received $110,800 and the governor and cabinet have received $29,750. Candidate not currently in office have received $20,791.90. Again, this is only for the 2014 election cycle."
The bill is not all bad for craft brewers as it does reduce the bond they need to hold from $20,000 to $5,000 and would exempt those producing under 2,000 kegs of beer. Depending upon one's point of view, it would define and 'legalize' 64 ounce 'growlers' that were never defined in Florida statute and were sold at some microbreweries, however some would have preferred it to remain out of Florida statutes deeming it none of the government's business.
Ultimately, Liberty First Network is encouraging its members to contact their state senators to quash SB 1714. They state in their report, "A brewer needs to be able to show competitiveness in the marketplace to be subject to the same standards or Florida will be regulating another industry into extinction. 2,000 kegs per year in comparison to 80 million kegs is the same as regulating a local lemonade stand to the standards of Minute Maid. That type of regulation would seem absurd for lemonade and it is equally absurd for the beer industry."
The libertarian approach would be to have a truly free market for all products produced and sold in Florida. As I mention in my April 11, 2014 article Three tiered system antiquated, costly to consumers and anti-free market, "The Libertarian view on the issue is consistent with free market principles whereas the brewer should be able to brew their beer onsite and sell it onsite without the extra time and cost of having to go through a distributor. Libertarians feel the brewer or any manufacturer of any product, including Tesla vehicles, should have the choice as to whether to utilize the benefits of going through a distributor, or going it alone selling directly to the consumer. There are benefits to going through a distributor, however forcing a company, through government force to do so, is immoral in a libertarian's eyes."