Legislation To Loosen Maryland’s Craft Brewery Laws Will Not Be Considered This Year

But supporters say it will be back next year.



Annapolis, Md (KM). Legislation that would have loosened  up regulations on Maryland’s craft beer industry will not  be taken up this year by the 2018 General Assembly. Last week, the House Economic Matters Committee gave the legislation an unfavorable recommendation.

“Well, it’s business as usual in Annapolis,” responded Comptroller Peter Franchot, who helped put together the “Reform on Tap” task force,  which came up with the bill. “The corporate beer lobbyists, they have way too much power over this committee.”

The legislation, if it passed, would have eased some of the limits on the industry, especially when it comes to production, tap room sales and over-the-counter sales.

The bill was opposed by the alcoholic beverage industry because it goes against the way their products are sold. It’s through a three-tiered system. The beer is produced at the brewery, and it’s sold to a wholesaler who in turn sells it to retailers, such as liquor stores, restaurants and bars. The brewers want to make greater profits selling their product directly  to the public. But wholesalers and retailers want to continue making profits by preserving their current business model.

Some legislators said they were irritated at the way Franchot, whose office regulates the alcoholic beverage industry, for championing the craft beet industry. They also say Franchot  did not enlist legislators to help write the “Reform on Tap” bill. “Well, we had four legislators on our task force, and they  appeared at eight different meetings, and they were very, very involved. And they were certainly involved in the final recommendation,” Franchot responded.

He says this legislation would have helped the craft beer industry thrive in the state, but the “corporate beer lobbyists” got their way with the Economic Matters Committee.. “They get a negative vote on a wonderful bill that would have made Maryland one of the number-one craft beer states in the county. It would have produced thousands of jobs and tens of million, if not hundreds of millions of dollars,  in economic activity,” says Franchot. “And also established Maryland as a place that’s business friendly to small businesses and family owned business.”

While the legislation is down, Franchot says it’s not out. “We will be back with our whole coalition, completely intact, energized, enlarged, and motivated, all Marylanders that want the state to appreciate small businesses,” he says.


By Kevin McManus