AG Candidate Bill Wohlsifer says Legislators are Stealing Home away from Brewers
Tallahassee FL, April 11, 2014: Bill Wohlsifer, candidate for Attorney General, has been watching the various versions of market manipulation that involve craft brewers in the State of Florida. There are already limitations to container sizes and the ability to sell the beer that independent brewers produce. This year’s session proposes yet another round of restrictions to these small businesses. The changes are proposed by Senate President Don Gaetz’s neighbor, friend and Republican donor; an Anheuser-Busch affiliate beer distributor. Senate Bill 1714 is insidious in that it gives the brewers the right to sell 32 oz, 64 oz. and 128 oz. containers (”growlers”) on premises (something they have been fighting for over the last four years) but with a catch: first their brewer must fictionally sell the brew to a distributor, who will then fictionally sell it back to the brewer, so that the brewer can sell it to the beer drinker. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. The Distributors mark-up may be 30% or more before they sell it back to the brewery that crafted the beer. Bill Wohlsifer believes this is a slap in the face to the small business men and women who are trying to compete in the (not-so) open market. The lawmakers in Tallahassee are clearly under the influence of Big Beer.
“The really interesting thing is that the Republican leadership’s position on craft beer sales relies on the argument that having different entities produce, distribute, and retail craft beer under the traditional three-tier system fosters competition in each market segment. However, on the contrary, about one week earlier, in response to a question presented from a private enterprise known as Medical Marijuana Tampa, when does the state plan to look to the private sector for input on the contemplated sale of Charlotte’s Web, a medication with isolated application derived from the plant species cannabis sativa (now pending approval under HB 843, SB 1030) Don Gaetz’s son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, replied, “We don’t.’ Gaetz referred to, ‘vertical integration:’ a platform where the medicinal marijuana must be cultivated, processed, delivered and sold by a single entity. Even more hypocritical, the proposed legislation restricts production and sale to as few as one company and no more than four, statewide. Where is the competition in that? How does the establishment justify forced cross-company pre-consumer sales for craft beer, yet vertical integration for the sale of Charlotte’s Web? The answer is easy: both favor big business over free market competition. I will go to bat for Florida’s breweries”
~ Bill Wohlsifer, Candidate for Attorney General