Legislation dealing with drinking glasses used by bars and restaurants to serve beer to their customers passed a House committee Thursday morning and is on it’s way to a vote on the floor of the House for a full vote.
The bill would allow beer distributors to give away up to 10 cases of free displaying product names and logos to bars and restaurants. State law currently requires those glasses must be sold.
“At the end of the day, this is about the consumer,” said Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, the bill’s sponsor. “This is going to have a tremendous impact on small bars and restaurants, small businesses. Some of these bars make $100,000 – $200,000 a year and $2,000 – $3,000 in glassware will make a difference.”
Critics argue the bill would provide an unfair advantage to the big beer distributors and hurt the smaller craft beer manufacturers. The craft beer industry usually sells its products only in kegs and rely on taps. The industry says allowing bigger distributors to offer free glassware will give them an advantage in securing tap space.
“On tap, the draft handles, that’s the only way our folks are going to get to the marketplace,” Josh Aubuchon, the general counsel for the Florida Brewers Guild, told members of the House Commerce committee. ”The glassware is going to be a way for [Anheuser-Busch] to come in and say ‘here’s this, take these free glasses and put our beers on tap.’ And, in doing so, it’s going to erode the tap space for our small craft breweries, our Florida-owned businesses.”
Aubuchon says the bill would benefit those distributors with the “largest pockets.”
“We shouldn’t get in the way of how various beer providers want to advertise their products to consumers,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay. “This is a good idea.”
But other committee members disagree. Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Rockledge, says with
“If you took that 25,000 and they gave 10 cases, that’s 6.1 million glasses,” Goodson said. “If that is not advertising, if that’s not picking a winner, then we’re totally, totally confused here.”
The Senate version of the bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations committee Thursday afternoon. If it’s approved there, the measure would move to the full Senate for a vote.