It is extremely rare to find me setting my alarm for 5:30am. It is even more rare to find me waking before a 5:30am alarm in anticipation of the day ahead. It just isn’t the lifestyle I lead. But today I opened my eyes and glanced at the alarm clock to find 5:15. Normally my reaction would be to go back to sleep, but not today. Today there was only one thought on the front of my brain:
Why hello there, Today. Hope you’re ready for an ass kicking.
Seventy days have passed since my first entry to this blog on the topic of HB 660. Exactly one half of the legislative session. A lot has happened. As you will see later today, a substitute bill has been drafted for HB 660 - a compromise we have reached with other parties in exchange for their support. The bill isn’t as big of a win as it previously was, but it is still a huge victory for Texas craft brewers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. It still generates tremendous benefits for the state of Texas and it’s ailing coffers. This is still a bill we cannot afford to not pass.
You know our position is sound. Today we show our legislators that position. Today we hold our line against those who would attempt to derail us in their own selfish interest. Today, we win the first battle.
HB 602 will also be heard by the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee today. I don’t know which bill will go first, or even when. It will likely be between 8-10am, but it is possible we could be adjourned until the afternoon. It all depends on how other hearings go and which order they call them in. You can listen (and maybe watch) the hearings live today here.
Day 70 of the Legislative session. In other words, the end of the first half. Tomorrow, on Day 71, I will join some of my colleagues in testifying before the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee on behalf of HB 660 (I’ll post a copy of my testimony either tomorrow or Wednesday).
Those of you who have read this blog know my position, and you know it is strong. Today I make another plea for you to all members of the Committee to demand they support HB 660. It’s good for everyone in the 3-tier system, it’s good for consumers, and it’s good for Texas. We can simply not afford to not pass this bill.
Thank you all for the support so far and for the well wishes. Tomorrow is the first step in the new world of Texas Craft Beer.
Bus Trip to Austin
For those of you in San Antonio, I hope you Blue Star and Freetail on the bus to Austin for lobby day. Joey, owner of Blue Star, will be on board to answer questions to and from. Here is the itinerary:
7:30 Breakfast at Blue Star
8:00 Bus leaves for Austin
9:30: Arrival in Austin, Lobby Day Debrief (you’ll get a packet that has talking points and the Reps to go talk to)
10:00-12:30: Visits with State Reps
1:00: Group photo, Lunch at Uncle Billy’s
2:00: Bus departs for San Antonio (with a keg of Blue Star and Freetail beer on board)
There is no cost to help us in this fight. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Texas Craft Beer lovers, now is the time to make your voice heard.
House Bill’s 660 and 602 have been schedule for Public Hearing in the Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee at 8:05 Tuesday March 22. (Note, neither bill may be heard at 8:05, that is when the hearing starts of which we are on the agenda).
The future of both bills are now in the hands of the committee. If you haven’t make your voice heard yet, now is the time. If you have made your voice heard, now is the time to remind them of their need to support these bills.
Tuesday is also Texas Beer Freedom lobby day. I don’t have the info buttoned up yet, I hope to have it tomorrow. If you can, please come to the Capitol on Tuesday to help show your support.
Here we go.
Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone! I hope you are all are enjoying craft beer on this festive day, and please remember to do so responsibly.
We had a great event at the Capitol last night that one staffer told me was the best attended reception at the Capitol in her memory in the 8 years she’s worked there. Wow!
We spoke with a handful of fantastic and curious Legislators, including Reps. Aliseda, Allen, Berman, Chisum, Geren, Gonzales, Isaacs, Phillips, Price, Shelton, Torres, and of course our bills’ author, Mike Villarreal. A couple of them even said they’d be speaking directly with Rep. Villarreal very soon about signing up as sponsors. Awesome!
Tomorrow I’m going to have news for San Antonians on how to help us next Tuesday for the official HB 660 lobby day (and also what those of you in other cities can do too).
Around the Web
W. Scott Bailey, who I can attest drinks great beer, has a good story in the SA Business Journal that ran prior to yesterday’s event.
Eric Braun, who also drinks great beer, has a similar story on MYSA.com.
Almost to the halfway point of the legislative session, and today Texas Beer Freedom is hosting a reception for Members and their staffs at the Capitol. These kind of events are always fun for me, because they put to test my ability to guess how much beer people will drink. I almost always underestimate folks interest in taking the time to come try some beer – to the point where I should know better by now. Luckily, my friends from brewpubs around the state will also be there with beer to help me out. I should have some news tomorrow on where folks are on the bill, based on feedback I get tonight.
The Loop Scoop has posted a wonderful letter to Representative Mike Hamilton, who is the Chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee, where HB 660 has been assigned. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend penning similar letters and following up with phone calls to your elected officials and members of the committee.
Lastly, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, as we all know. I’ve long suspected that St. Patrick is the patron saint of brewers as his day sure sells a lot of our beer. Hopefully he’ll also bring us some of that luck of the Irish when it comes to HB 660.
In coordination with Texas Beer Freedom, you’ll soon be able to find these beauties at Freetail, Blue Star, NXNW, Uncle Billy’s, Black Star and Draught House (and maybe more places, I’ll update you as the list grows).
At all locations, you buy the glass for $10 and it includes your first beer. Details on what happens after that vary by location, but at Freetail you also get your glass refilled for $3 for the rest of the night with your glass (you’ll have to buy a new glass the next day).
Today I spent the afternoon at the Capitol will colleagues, delivering invitations to every single office for a legislative event hosted by Texas Beer Freedom.
On no occasion was I dismissed as a dismantler of a perfect system. No one accused me of trying to sell beer in dry counties or to children. No one even told me they didn’t have time to talk. The reaction at every single office was one of excitement to be hearing from Texas brewers.
Granted, these were staffers I was talking to and their excitement doesn’t directly translate to votes – but they are the front line for their respective members.
Today, I’m more encouraged than ever.
Right off the bat, happy Texas Independence Day! 175 years ago, while the brave men and women of our state fought for independence at the Alamo for 13 days, our state declared itself sovereign. Not to put our efforts on par with what those Texans did back then, but today, we fight for the independence of Texas brewpubs.
Yesterday, the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee held their first round of hearings. Judging by the past, HB 660 should have its hearing in the next couple of weeks. Now, more than ever, it is important for you all to write the members of the committee and express your support for HB 660. You can find the committee list here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Committees/Membership.aspx. Even if you are not in their district, please write, call and email your support over the next few weeks.
Also, keep March 23 marked on your calendar as we are planning a rally at the Capitol and on April 3 we are planning a huge event at the new Uncle Billy’s on Lake Travis.
Thank you all for the continued support. We will win this fight.
And the photos (Credit to all to Allison Smith, professional photographer and Freetail staffer):
If you live in San Antonio or within the immediate vicinity – I expect to see you at Main Plaza tonight. I’m not super political and I’m not really up-to-date what the Tea Party is all about… but either way a Beer Party sounds like a lot more fun! Let’s show the rest of Texas how much HB 660 means to us and lets also show off the spirit of San Antonio in the process. Cheers!
Lots of buzz following yesterday’s meetings at the Capitol (which I still contend is made of Milk Chocolate. Get within 10 feet of it and you’ll be tempted to take a bite like I was) and last nights social gathering for the Texas Beer Institute, a consortium of production breweries.
Lee Nichols caught up with me and a handful of others last night (and even had a chance to take a fun picture of Live Oak’s Chip McElroy) and wrote a couple of stories on the matter. He has an Austin Chronicle piece up in addition to another story at his LegeLand area of the Chronicle. Both are recommended reading.
The Burnt Orange Report weighs in on HB 660 and HB 602 and suggests Texas could drink its way to fiscal solvency.
There will be tons more news tomorrow and over the weekend. I just did a couple of interviews for WOAI 1200 AM Radio (San Antonio) and Texas Public Radio who will have stories in advance of the rally, and will be covering the rally itself.
Things are looking up in Texas! Looks like I won’t have to make a last stand at the Alamo after all.
I met a gentleman named Michael Schultz yesterday at the HB 660 rally in Houston – and he put together this 30 second video. Enjoy.
Another late post, this one 11 hours late… I promise to catch up today.
We had an absolutely fabulous turnout at the Flying Saucer Houston last night and it was a blast meeting and talking to so many of the folks who read this blog. Thank you again for your amazing support.
People talk about how sometimes the will of the people isn’t enough, but the truth is that every movement has a tipping point. That point where our voices are so loud they can no longer be ignored. I don’t know exactly where that point is, and I know we aren’t there yet – but we are moving in that direction. This is the best chance Texas has ever had to true beer reform.
Day 34 will be up later tonight – I promise!
Right off the bat, I realize this post is 9 hours 18 minutes (and counting) late. Yesterday was a crazy day for me; as soon as I woke up I hit the road to Houston, where my day was filled with meetings and then an epic (and yes, I mean epic) beer tasting that didn’t allow me to post. But I’ll make up for it today with a double dose, (insert Robert DeNiro “Double Dose.”).
I’ve mentioned this before, but we’ve founded a non-profit organization called Texas Beer Freedom that can be used as the political vehicle for Texas craft brewers, now and in the future. Immediately, Texas Beer Freedom is raising money to help with expenses related to ensuring HB 660s passage. Along with expenses on items like shirts, pint glasses, coasters, growlers, etc. – we also are incurring significant expenses for a lobbyist we have retained to help our bill navigate its way through The Capitol and a Consulting firm to help us with our events coordination and PR. The grass-roots movement is an extremely important piece to this process, but we felt the lack of a daily presence in the Capitol could hamper our bill as it moves forward – especially considering that our opposition has a team of several lobbyists working around the clock to defeat the beer’s progress in Texas.
www.TexasBeerFreedom.org will be a central source of information (along with this blog) for info on beer-related legislative issues, and also where you can find info on where our money is coming from and how it is being spent. Unlike other groups, who derive strength from the secretive nature of their dealings, we have nothing to hide and pride ourselves on complete transparency.
The website is a work in progress, but the message is still there. If you can find it okay to donate whatever you can, we would be highly appreciative of your support. If donating isn’t something you can do right now, we are still highly appreciative of your support, and your voice is still needed. While walking through the Capitol the other day, many staffers mentioned that they had heard of HB 660 because of your emails, letters and phone calls.
HB 660 Rally at the Flying Saucer Houston!
Reminder: I’ll be at the Houston Saucer at 3pm today to hang out, drink great craft beer and talk HB 660. I have a bunch of T-shirts with me available in exchange for a donation as well. Hope to see you there.