A bill to reduce restrictions on craft distilleries in Florida is headed to the full Senate after passing its final committee Thursday.
“Senate Bill 46 (SB 46) attempts to put our craft distilleries on the same playing field nationally as other states,” St. Augustine Republican Sen. Travis Hutson told the Senate Rules Committee. Hutson is the bill’s sponsor.
To achieve that, the proposal would raise the annual production limit at craft distilleries from 75,000 to 250,000 gallons. It would also give distilleries in entertainment venues, such as wedding and concert venues, greater flexibility to dress up their drinks to effectively act as a bar.
Beginning in July 2026, the bill would also require recipes to include at least one agricultural product grown in Florida. And by that date, 60% of the drink must be distilled in the Sunshine State.
For destination entertainment venues, the bill outlines a particular set of requirements for a business to qualify. Among those requirements are that qualifying venues must be adjacent to bicycle or pedestrian trails and mass transit routes.
When pressed by St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Hutson said only one venue in the state currently qualifies. However, he said several sites in the Panhandle are close to qualifying.
The Rules Committee approved Hutson’s bill unanimously.
Other states are raising their caps on craft distilleries and providing them with more flexibility, the St. Augustine Republican told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee earlier this year.
Deregulating the alcohol industry has been a popular topic in recent years. The latest major effort is to allow restaurants and bars to sell alcohol drinks to-go, a practice approved on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hutson noted this is his first time carrying an alcohol-related bill in his more than six years in the Senate.
Indian Rocks Beach Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie is carrying the House companion bill (HB 737). That bill passed its first committee Tuesday.