2011 marks a year that the Texas Legislature is actually in session (mind boggingly they only meet once every other year). There are many important bills that will go in front of this legislature, but this is a beer blog so my focus of course will be about those bills that will affect you, the beer drinker. In that vein there are two bills that you need to be aware of, and hopefully support. First reported yesterday by Ronnie Crocker of the Houston Chronicle two bills will hopefully be introduced to give breweries and brewpubs more freedom and help our small but thriving brewpub and craft brewing industry grow.
- The first bill HB 660 sponsored by San Antonio Democrat Mike Villareal allows brewpubs to sell to distributors (currently brewpubs can only sell on site). The bill does additional things so please read the bill fully here. That link is also a good indication of where the bill is in the approval process.
- The second bill HB 602 sponsored by Houston Democrat is a bill we should be familiar with. It allows a small portion of beer to be sold on site at breweries. Similar bills have failed in the Texas Legislature in 2009 and 2007, hopefully the third time is the charm. Once again see here for more details of the bill.
If the past is any indication House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures will be the committee where these house bills are heard. It must get a hearing and get out of this committe before going in front of the full house for a vote. Therefore I urge everyone to write to the members of this committee and inform them why it is important to vote for this bill. Many Texas Legislatures, talk the talk about being supportive of small business, low taxes, and that decreasing regulations helps create growth. Well now is the time for them to walk the walk. Get them to help small business, lift ridiculous and unfair regulations to allow craft breweries to compete just as Texas wineries do (in a bit of irony, Texas wineries can actually sell beer on site, while craft breweries can not). So far members of the committe have not been named, but when they are I will post members, and their email addresses. Let's get a grass roots campaign started. Its time for many of us, that are supportive of craft beer in Texas to do more than talk about it and start doing something. Write to legislatures, write to local papers, campaign, raise awareness through education. Show the folks in Austin that they need to pay attention to craft beer lovers.