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Update x3: Jaime reported the following this morning, and I think we should start celebrating now.
Amendment received favorable report and has passed! We anticipate to be on the House floor mid-week next week. Look for more updates and more call to action next week. A successful first step but I sure will be celebrating this small victory at Brewvival!
...The other good news - another bill for retail beer tastings was also introduced and sent forward! So we'll be asking for your support for 2 bills. And yes the Beer Wholesalers are on board with the compromised HB 3693 bill (meaning we both had to give and take on it) which all boils down to this: we actually stand a good chance of getting it passed this time around!
Update x2: The hearing has been rescheduled for first thing on Wednesday February 24th. Since it's an early morning affair, there's little chance this one will get cancelled. Keep the e-mails going out to those Congressmen, and per my comment below, phone calls are especially effective.
Update: Tomorrow's sub-committee meeting was cancelled. The bill should come back up for a hearing next week. But that just gives us more time to pummel these guys with support for the bill!
First reporting: This Thursday, a South Carolina House sub-committee hearing will include House Bill 3693, a small but integral step in bringing South Carolina's burgeoning brewing industry closer to being on par with neighboring states.
Passage of this bill would allow 4 four-ounce tastings per-person per-day and the direct purchase of one case of beer per-person per-day in conjunction with a brewery tour. This might not sound like much, but today you cannot legally taste beer at a brewery, or buy beer directly from the brewery at all.
South Carolina's beer laws are absolutely baffling. You can have a wine tasting in a retail outlet, but you can't have a beer tasting. You could visit Firefly's distillery and taste Sweet Tea Vodka (if they did tours), but you can't visit COAST and have a few sips of HopArt. There is, frankly, just no good reason for it.
Luckily we have the South Carolina Brewer's Assocation, headed up by Jaime Tenney (the un-bearded half of COAST Brewing), fighting the good fight. After their championing of "Pop the Cap," this bill is another of example of the SCBA trying to bring our state into the 21st century and level the playing field for the beer industry with the likes of North Carolina and Georgia.
Make no mistake: If the playing field isn't levelled, you can expect to see fewer breweries popping up in South Carolina, and maybe even some established ones pulling up the stakes and moving to greener pastures. That's less great beer for us, but it's also less tax revenue and fewer jobs. The beer laws as they stand hurt small businesses, and deter new ones from coming here.
Check out our Brewvival podcast for some discussion on the state of South Carolina beer laws with Jaime and Rich Carley from Charleston Beer Exchange. More importantly, click the links below. They will take you to the bio pages of the Congressmen in the sub-committee, and from there you can send them a message urging the passage of HB 3693.