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Small and large beer breweries battle it out in Florida legislature

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The Florida legislature will meet early next month, however prior to that session starting, different legislative committees vet various bills deciding which will be debated in the Florida Senate and the Florida House, while others will die in those committees, never to see the light of day. That is what is brewing in Tallahassee this week and tomorrow, February 11, 2014 the Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee will meet to discuss whether to allow small craft breweries more latitude to market their products.

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HB 283 and HB 387 will be discussed which proposed to allow craft brewers of beer the ability offer free tastings on their premises and the ability to sell their product in 64-ounce containers. Floridians may be surprised how highly regulated the beer and alcohol market is in Florida, however it can by highly restrictive. For example, in Bloomberg-esque fashion, Florida state law prohibits beer being sold in anything larger than a 32-ounce container.

The issue upsetting large scale breweries is a couple variants being discussed and the main issue is the proposal to allow craft breweries not only sell and offer tastings of what they produce, but to also sell other brewer's products. Eric Criss, representing MillerCoors via the Beer Industry of Florida, a pro-regulation lobbying group, recently said, “The distributor's job is to sell the retailer a particular craft brand — to get a tap or shelf space, both of which are precious real estate. Those retailers have created business plans and made significant investments in their stores. Why should retailers be happy to put a craft beer supplier on their store shelves or on tap in their restaurant if that craft beer supplier is now the competition?”

It is clear libertarians are for any mode which increases a business's ability to expand their business and free itself of as much regulation as possible. In fact, most libertarians would likely favor removal of the intrusive state regulations on beer. After all, the Libertarian Party of Florida's platforms states:

A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society."

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