IL House Fails to Pass Craft Brewer Act Rewrite Before end of Session

In Beer Politics by Ryan

The May 31st deadline marking the end of the Illinois legislature’s spring session came and went without a vote on a major rewrite of the state’s craft brewer act. All is not lost, though.

Illinois_State_Capitol_domeOptimism was high coming in to Sunday that the Illinois House would approve a substantial rewrite to the Illinois’ Craft Brewer Act, which would add a second license, retain self-distribution for small brewers and allow big brewers to produce more beer and open multiple brewpubs.

As the day wore on, that optimism faded.

Lobbyists were working behind the scenes to get HB 3237 into the House Executive Committee, which had to okay the bill before it could be voted by the full House. But no dice.

Then this happened…

ABDI President Bob Myers told me via text message that there’s still hope the bill can pass during the legislature’s summer session. It would require a 3/5ths majority vote, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

Support doesn’t appear to be an issue with this legislation as it passed the Senate 46-2. House Speaker Michael Madigan, who controls most if not all pieces of legislation in his chamber, just needs to green-light the bill to move. Perhaps its being used as some sort of negotiating piece, or maybe its just not a high priority at the moment.

As a refresher, here’s what the legislation does:

  • The bill creates two craft brewer licenses: Class 1 and Class 2.
  • A Class 1 Brewer could produce up to 30,000 barrels of beer a year and self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels of beer a year. They could not hold a brewpub license though.
  • A Class 2 Brewer could produce up to 120,000 barrels of beer a year and hold up to three brewpub licenses, however they could not self-distribute.
  • Production is capped at brewpubs in Illinois at 5,000 barrels of beer per year, per location. If a Class 2 Brewer has multiple brewpubs the beer produced there does count towards their 120,000 barrel cap. Also, a Class 2 Brewer could only offer beer for on-premise consumption at three locations, which would appear to keep a brewer from having a taproom and three brewpubs,
  • The fee for a Class 1 license remains $25. The fee for a Class 2 license is $25.
  • Revolution Brewing could continue with its planned expansion and retain its flagship brewpub as the bill would allow Rev Brew to be grandfathered in.

The bill also includes language allowing distributors and brewers to tweet about events and post them to Facebook, which is currently illegal in Illinois. Here’s more on that part of the bill.

A resolution also passed the House on Sunday that encourages the governor and lawmakers to tax craft brewers to pay for childcare at three state universities, sponsored by State Representative Monique Davis. While certainly a headache for the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and the ABDI, this is no more than a resolution encouraging someone to do something — which doesn’t mean it’s law. Consider it a request in writing, which may or may not be granted. (Asking a Republican governor to increase taxes doesn’t seem likely, however.)

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Ryan

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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