NOW WHAT?

BREWERS

Well, by now, you should all know where we are on the Pint Bill. I won’t recap much, but here it is – we’re getting closer. We’re out of the Senate committee. (With some tough amendments that will kicked on the floor). We’re ready for a second reading of the bill. Only one thing is standing in the way of that – Senator Mike Fair of Greenville. He has placed an objection to the bill, which helps delay it coming up for a second reading or even a vote. Once a Senator makes an objection, the bill calendar is marked in such a way to note that an objecting Senator wants to be present when a bill is debated. The catch? When the bill comes up for debate, the Senator can just leave the floor, which pushes the bill back to the bottom of the calendar. In effect, it’s a way to bury a bill.

We’re encouraging all fans of SC beer to contact Senator Fair to request that he remove his objection to the bill. You can contact him via the following ways:

MikeFair@scsenate.gov

803-212-6240

@SenatorMikeFair

What should you say to Senator Fair? Well, no matter what you do, please be respectful. We’ll catch more Senators with honey than with vinegar. Use something like this as a template. I’m a constituent of Senator Fair and this is more or less what I wrote to him:

SUBJECT: Please Support H. 3554 & S. 423

Dear Senator Fair,

I write to you to respectfully request that you support S. 423 and its counterpart, H. 3554, or at the very least, remove your objection to these two bills. While I certainly respect your position on alcohol, I would ask that you retract your objections because this is a good economic bill for Greenville (and South Carolina) that deserves a vote.

Since the law changed in 2010 so as to allow our state’s breweries to provide samples to patrons, our breweries have seen a big increase in those visiting. Many of these patrons are coming from surrounding states, as well as many reported foreign visitors.  This is true of all of the breweries in South Carolina. With Asheville, North Carolina being named “Beer City, USA” three years running, many such craft beer enthusiasts are making the short trip down to South Carolina.  In addition, Charleston continues to get tourism accolades as one of the best cities in America for its blossoming beer culture.

These bills help level the playing field as our neighboring State to the North has much more expansive laws. This has not only led to their boom in new local Breweries (now totals over 74 such in NC), but has just recently landed the State two $100 million plus investments by West Coast breweries that are moving East – New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada, with Oskar Blues also investing millions recently in Brevard.   Unfortunately, these companies would not even consider our State due to our current law.  However, a change in the law would provide a tremendous incentive for popular western breweries that would like to expand their operations to the east coast.  This is certainly evident in another state – Virginia –  where a similar bill was recently passed which was instrumental in Green Flash Brewing’s decision to build an east coast branch of their San Diego brewery in Virginia Beach.  The brewery will employ 40 people. The North Carolina breweries will employ hundreds.

Additionally, several west coast breweries might be considering Greenville for its wonderful culture, superb water, and because it is not as congested as western North Carolina for craft beer. We’re potentially in line for millions of investment in our community. That could produce many jobs and create a lot of tax revenue for other projects here.

Craft beer contributes millions of dollars to our state every year, and passing this bill will only help our economy by easing regulations on small business and creating incentives for entrepreneurs to get into the industry. South Carolina craft brewers are the perfect embodiment of values held by so many: small, local, value-added, innovative, and community-minded small businesses that provide a place to gather responsibly. 

These bills also are protective. They obviously restate the current law that no underage or intoxicated people may be served. It also requires signs about alcohol contents and driving. It requires training for all servers. It also requires, at the request of the brewers, that a monitoring system be put in place so that no patron is given any beyond the ounce limit. I think it is a great thing that any place that serves alcohol – whether it’s a bar, restaurant, or tavern – is imposing a limit on themselves. Breweries are not looking to be bars. They are educating people about the process of hand crafted brewing and allowing people to gather as a community together safely and responsibly.

Senator, I believe this is a good bill. These breweries create jobs, produce tax revenues, are stewards of the community, and also provide added benefits such as boosting local agriculture and farming. Greenville is in a great position to cash in on this industry. I would respectfully request that you remove your objection and allow these bills to come for a vote.

Thank you for attention to this matter.

So, what’s the objection? Doesn’t Greenville stand to benefit quite a bit from passing this bill? Well, actually, yeah. Greenville is in the catbird seat with two new breweries opening and several others eyeing the area. I’m not trying to break any news here, but I’ve heard from folks who are waiting to see if this thing passes. If so, then look for more breweries in the Upstate! It even puts Greenville in play for west coast breweries looking to expand east who see western North Carolina as too congested, but want to be close. Anyhow, Greenville benefits from this bill. But that’s not the issue.

What’s the objection? I’m told that the objection is moral. And that can be tricky to overcome with economic arguments. All the same, please know that a lot of great people are working on this right now. Continue to write to Senator Fair and let him know why he should support the bill, or at the very least, remove his objection so that this can be read and debated. His district stands to gain a lot from this legislation.

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One response to “NOW WHAT?

  1. Mike Fair’s platform, from his election site http://www.electmikefair.com includes these two sections:

    Job Growth
    Layoffs have affected families and individuals employed across nearly all sectors of business, challenging our quality of life and the ability to build economic prosperity. As a state we must make job growth a priority, establishing parties and programs that foster investment and prepare our people for 21st century jobs. For too long unnecessary red tape has stifled the interest of major companies that could bring high-paying jobs to South Carolina’s stagnate job market. As your Senator, I have and will continue to cut through unnecessary regulation and political gridlock, putting the people of South Carolina back to work.
    Economic Development
    A pro-business model extends well beyond job growth, affecting the overall health and progress of the Palmetto State. As your voice in Columbia, I have worked to champion a tax structure, regulatory climate and a right-to-work environment that will grow our economy. Too often though, politicians and media emphasize big businesses at the expense of our state’s primary economic driver small businesses. We must protect and promote efforts of small businesses, attracting and maintaining opportunities that foster business start-ups and sustain growth.

    His opposition to the bill is in stark contrast to these two positions.

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