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Senator Carona Issues Statement on Beer Bills

Senator John Carona, chairman of the Senate Business & Commerce Committee (where Senator Eltife’s craft beer bills have been referred) issued the following statement yesterday:

“The outlook is bright for legislation to create new opportunities for craft brewers and brewpubs in Texas.  For months we have worked to get to this point — several important pieces of legislation have been filed and placed before the public for discussion and debate.  I applaud Senator Eltife, Senator Van de Putte, and the others who have brought these ideas forward.

“My support of craft beer is well known.  Pro-craft beer legislation has passed out of my committee before and will again.  I have insisted on bringing stakeholders to the table, created the framework for it, and was one of the first few legislators to respond to the Open the Taps survey.  The bill I filed is a step along the path to passage of comprehensive legislation.  We are remiss if we do not take the long and wide view on these important provisions.  Provisions such as reach back pricing, the alteration of a price by a manufacturer based on the price a distributor charges a retailer.  This practice borders on price-fixing and must be addressed.  But comprehensive legislation also includes a “tap room” provision, which will allow brewers to serve customers beer at their brewery, as well as legislation that will allow brewpubs to use a distributor to get their product into stores and in front of more customers.

“As with any issue, there are many stakeholders with varying interests — this is the very reason I created working groups during the interim to begin to address these important issues.  We will continue to work together, and in the end I am confident that this Session we can pass legislation beneficial to craft brewers and brewpubs.”

I’d like to say that we (speaking on behalf of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild) don’t think Chairman Carona is the enemy here and we have the utmost respect for him. He has always been a fair and impartial Chairman, and has historically always given Pro-Craft Beer legislation a fair shot in his committee. It was him who called for a working group to study alcohol issues, including craft beer, in the interim and that working group is where SB 515-18 emerged from. We are appreciative of the Chairman for having SB 639 filed as a standalone issue to be evaluated on its own merits, rather than lumped in to the Pro-Craft Beer legislation where the Guild would have been forced to cut off our noses in spite of our faces.

I would advise anyone with an opinion to feel free to share those opinions with their elected officials in a civil, respective manner. The accusations (that I’ve seen around the web) of impropriety on the Chairman’s behalf are counterproductive and completely off-base. We Craft Brewers are thankful to have Senator Carona as Chair of Business & Commerce because of his reputation for being fair and even-handed. While there may be a tendency to vilify him based on the appearances of what has happened recently, I can assure everyone that we are in constant contact with his office and have a fantastic relationship with the Chairman and his staff.