Bill of the Week: This Bill’s for You
Rep. Craig Goldman serves up a new round of beer-based tax
House Bill 3287, Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Ft. Worth
Here's an old joke: Why is bad beer like sex in a canoe? Because they're both fucking close to water.
For decades, American beer has been the laughingstock of the global brewing community, and it's only in the last decade or so that the rise of craft breweries has begun to remove that stigma. However, in Texas, those small breweries have been hampered by the state's three-tier system, with breweries forced to go through a distributor, rather than selling directly to stores or consumers. In theory, that should protect consumers from brewery monopoly power, but in practice it's given the distributors a legally protected whip hand. In 2013, lawmakers finally let brewers producing under 225,000 barrels annually sell up to 5,000 barrels a year in on-site taprooms. But Goldman's measure would make any brewery producing more than 175,000 barrels a year pay distributors a premium, even if the beer never leaves the premises. Moreover, if a small brewery is bought by a bigger firm such as, say, Anheuser-Busch InBev, then the parent company's total production would count against their quota.
Brewers big and small have slammed the bill as nothing more than a power grab for the distribution industry. Saint Arnold Brewing Company founder Brock Wagner called it "100 percent to line the pockets of distributors," while Texas Craft Brewers Guild director Charles Vallhonrat dubbed it "just a tax." Yet this week the House showed by a 111-33 vote that it valued the power and lobbying dollars of the distributors over the taste buds of drinkers, and now the measure heads to the Senate for further approval.