Lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would ease regulations on craft distilleries, sending the measure on to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The House on Wednesday voted 116-1 to approve Sen. Travis Hutson‘s bill (SB 46), passed unanimously in the Senate last month, to eliminate production caps and open the door for distilleries to sell their drinks in more ways.
Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, says the bill would help level the playing field for Florida’s craft distilleries, who compete against distilleries in other states that have already lessened their restrictions.
Rep. Nick DiCeglie, the Indian Rocks Beach Republican who is shepherding that legislation through the House, said the bill “eases the regulatory burdens.” He referred to his experience as a small business owner.
“Useless red tape prevents businesses from growing to meet their true potential,” DiCeglie said. “Government regulations create a dark cloud of fear and unpredictability that make it nearly impossible for the business owner to invest in growth that leads to new employees.”
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.
No distilleries could deliver or ship drinks directly to consumers, like how the three tier system normally splits manufacturers, distributors and vendors. However, all craft distilleries could sell their drinks to consumers by the drink or package, but only in face-to-face transactions.
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.
DiCeglie told House members the bill has been years in the making.
“(Stakeholders) saw other states take action and knew now was the time to do what’s best for their industry,” he added.
Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough cast the lone no vote on the bill’s passage.
If the bill becomes law, it will take effect in July.