Archive for March 26th, 2013

by jhwygirl

Major rumbling began maybe 2 weeks ago – a bill designed to kill Montana craft breweries as we know it. Lizard, though, I should point out, gave us the foreboding preview back in February with his The Politics of Beer post. HB616 has been put forth by Great Falls Rep. Roger Hagan at the request of the Montana Tavern Association.

The fiscal note has a pretty plain language summary of the bill. It does significantly change the licensing fee for breweries and it changes production limits such that virtually all current “small breweries” would then be reclassified with higher licensing costs, jumping from $200 to $100,000.

The hearing was held today in House Business & Labor. The room was packed, with proponents of the bill largely being bar and tavern owners. One proponent of this bill stood out – Big Sky Brewing located right here in Missoula.

Outcry began immediately – as is the way things go on twitter – and a petition was started calling for a boycott of Big Sky Brewing.

It’s a huge shame that Big Sky Brewing is siding with the loathsome Montana Tavern Association. Instead of positioning themselves to enhance and promote craft brewing here in Montana, they’re only concern is their own competition.

Beer is one industry where it is possible to grow, purchase and produce the finished product, maximizing economic output here in Montana – and creating a string of Montana jobs. The economic benefit of 100% value-added production is significant and something the Montana legislature should be encouraging.

This legislature can’t see fit to suspend the gas and oil tax holiday for the oil and gas corporations, yet they’ll hit up small craft brewers – some that are actually the conduits of economic development for small towns all over the state – for $100,000 licensing fees.

Ridiculous. Next time they talk about how unfriendly Montana is to business, they better look in the mirror at this one. A purely Montana industry and they’re doing the best they can to impede its growth.

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