Craft distilleries hire lobbyists for upcoming session - Florida Politics

Craft distilleries hire lobbyists for upcoming session

As lawmakers get ready to consider relaxing the state’s booze regulations, craft distillers have started to lobby up for the 2017 Legislative Session.  

According to lobbying registration records reviewed Monday, some craft liquor makers have hired or re-hired representation for the upcoming session:

Ron Book and Kelly Mallette, for Florida Distillers of Lake Alfred.

Foley & Lardner’s Christian Caballero, Paul Lowell, Jon Yapo and Jonathan Kilman, for American Freedom Distillery of Tampa.

GrayRobinson’s Jason Unger and Robert Stuart, for the Florida Distillers Guild, the St. Augustine-based trade group.

Republican state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota already has filed a bill (SB 166) that would change state law to craft distillers’ benefit. The House companion (HB 141) was filed by state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, a St. Johns Republican.

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One provision in the measure expands how much booze they can produce and still be considered “craft,” raising the limit from 75,000 gallons per year to 250,000 gallons.

Another repeals limits on how many bottles distillers can sell directly to consumers, though it maintains a limit on bottles being no bigger than 1.75 liters.

Until 2013, distillers couldn’t sell any of their product to customers. That year, lawmakers approved a change to state law allowing two bottles to be sold to an individual customer yearly.

The law was changed again to two bottles annually per customer of each brand of liquor that a distiller makes. If a craft distiller produces only one type of liquor, however, four can be sold.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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