Here is a copy of a press release that will be sent to media outlets across the state today.
Gourmet Beer Bill Stalled by Misinformation Espoused by Some State Representatives
Birmingham, AL April 9, 2007 –Contrary to some reports, the Gourmet Beer Bill was not “killed” last Tuesday. Short just 3 votes, it narrowly missed passing the preliminary BIR (Budget Isolation Resolution) vote with the needed 3/5 majority. Bills must pass the higher threshold BIR vote before being sent to the floor, where only a simple majority is needed to pass the bill. Since the Gourmet Beer Bill did not make it to a floor vote, it is still alive, and a clear majority of Representatives in the AL House are now on record as supporting it. Proponents of the bill now plan to move its companion bill, SB211, through the Senate and bring it back before the House for a second attempt at recovering the 3 missing votes needed to pass the BIR. The bill is being pushed by grassroots organization Free The Hops. After listening to the House debate preceding the BIR vote, members of Free The Hops realized they have not sufficiently educated members of the AL legislature on the nature of the bill and the effects it would have on the state. Especially disturbing were misinformed comments from Rep. Richard Laird (D, 37th District, Chambers, Clay and Randolph) and Rep. DuWayne Bridges (R, 38th District, Chambers, Lee). Both Rep. Laird and Rep. Bridges made incorrect assertions about the nature of the Gourmet Beer Bill and its effects on Alabama that are simply not supported by the facts. Rep. Laird openly admitted to not having read the bill he was arguing against in front of the House of Representatives. Which partly explains his statement, “It’s bad enough that we have beer now with 4, 5, 6 percent alcohol content; but it’ll be worse when it’s 17, 18, maybe as high as 80 percent alcohol content.” Laird proceeded to decry the evils of beer with 80% alcohol content, and rightly so. Unfortunately for Free The Hops, it was a straw man argument that may have confused some members of the House into voting No on the BIR. 80% beer doesn’t exist anywhere; it is physically impossible to make; and regardless, the Gourmet Beer Bill seeks to impose a cap of 14.9% ABV on beer–far, far below the phantom 80% beer Rep. Laird condemned. If only Laird had read the bill before speaking out against it. Later during the course of the BIR debate Rep. Bridges spoke out and further confused the House with unfounded assertions about the effect HB195 would have on alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Bridges first claimed “40 percent of deaths in the state of Alabama are alcohol-related.” Presumably he meant “alcohol-related traffic fatalities,” as the leading cause of death in Alabama is heart disease, at 28%. Assuming Bridges did mean that 40% of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, he was rounding up to help bolster his argument, as the most recent data available from MADD lists that figure at 37%. However, Bridges’ rounding of verifiable data might be excusable if he hadn’t proceeded to make up bogus statistics on the spot, just to make people afraid of the Gourmet Beer Bill. Regarding the bill’s likely effect on alcohol-related traffic fatalities he said, “This means, instead of 40 percent, it would probably go to 60 or 80 percent because it’ll increase the alcohol content.” The fact is that in 46 other states with no 6% limit on alcohol in beer, none of them have a 60% or 80% alcohol-related traffic fatality rate. Not one. Data (again from MADD) reveals no correlation whatsoever between the legality of higher alcohol beer and rates of alcohol-related fatalities. The data proves Rep. Bridges wrong. It appears that many people have the misconception that standard cheap lagers such as those currently found in every convenience store in every wet county in the state will be affected by the Gourmet Beer Bill–suddenly jumping to 14% ABV, yet remaining cheap and widely available. That is not true. Again, 46 other states do not limit alcohol in beer to 6%. All of the cheap lagers in all the convenience stores in those states have the same 4-6% alcohol content as the cheap beers in Alabama, even though no law is restricting them. High alcohol beer is expensive to produce, and the additional ingredients naturally produce strong flavors completely unlike typical light lagers. After the Gourmet Beer Bill passes, Bud, Miller, Coors, and all similar beers will continue to be exactly as they are under current law, just as they are in 46 other states.
For a chart illustrating the high cost of higher alcohol beer, see:
For a 4 minute abridged version of the BIR debate from April 3rd, click the following link:
For alcohol-related traffic fatality statistics, see:
For cause-of-death statistics, see:
For the complete audio from the BIR debate on the Gourmet Beer Bill, click one of the following links:
The above files are identical. They are mirrored on multiple servers. If you have difficulty accessing one link, please try another.