Georgia Senate committee kills ‘small brewer’ bill



(The Center Square) — The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee failed to advance a measure craft brewer advocates said would have allowed them to sell more of their products directly to consumers, marking the second year in a row the push has died.

Senate Bill 163 would have allowed “small brewers” to distribute up to 3,000 cases per year to retailers within a 100-mile radius without contracting with a distributor and allow brewers and brewpubs to donate products for charitable events.

The committee held a hearing on the bill on Feb. 6. However, members did not advance the measure before the committee’s Thursday deadline to pass the bill before Crossover Day, effectively the deadline for either the House or the Senate to pass a measure for consideration during this year’s session.

“The inaction on Senate Bill 163 is deeply disappointing,” Joseph Cortes, executive director of The Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, said in a statement. “Our small breweries are integral parts of their communities, providing jobs, driving tourism, and enriching the cultural fabric of Georgia. Yet, they are being held back by regulatory barriers that stifle their potential. It’s time for lawmakers to prioritize the needs of our local businesses and take meaningful action to support their growth.”

Cortes blamed Peach State beer wholesalers for working “vigorously” to kill the bill.

“Their actions make it clear that distributors are more interested in using their power and influence under the Gold Dome to protect their monopoly than working with small breweries to provide necessary reforms,” Cortes added. “As distributors continue to enrich themselves through a system [built] to protect them, more breweries will face closure.”

At least seven craft breweries have closed in Georgia, with many blaming overregulation as the culprit. The landscape prompted the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild to launch a petition in October urging lawmakers to support fair and open market access.

Georgia senators also debated SB163 last year and did not advance it.

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