Saturday, January 21, 2017

Florida House and Senate Bills Would Ease Restrictions on Craft Distillers

     Two weeks after a Florida Senate bill on craft distilleries was introduced, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson of St. Johns County filed a companion bill in the House, HB 141.  The goal of the two bills is to ease the restrictions on small distillers of spirits in the state.   Stevenson filed her bill at the end of December after state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota filed SB 166 earlier in the month.
     According to a release from Stevenson's office, the House bill would allow: A reduction in the annual license fee for craft distilleries.   Removal of individual container limits on sales in on-site gift shops or a local sales room.  Finally, an increase in the annual production limit allowed for qualification as a craft distillery from 75,000 gallons to 250,000 gallons.

     "This bill frees craft distilleries from unnecessary regulations and allows them to continue to grow," Stevenson said in a release. "Already we see the potential of craft distilleries in Florida's economy. They not only create good jobs, but also support Florida's farmers and invigorate historic districts. I look forward to working with Senator Steube on this bill."

     State law has changed several times in recent years in regard to craft distilleries.   A change first allowed customers to buy two bottles of liquor per year from a distillery, and then the law was further amended to allow customers to purchase two bottles per brand per year.   That means visitors to the Distillery can now buy two bottles each of the company's spirit brands. 

     HB 141 will give more freedom to Florida's craft distilleries, greater consumer choice and enable the growth of the industry.  The result will mean more jobs that will support manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, three of our state's leading industries.