While we wait for the text and bill number of the Brewery Modernization Act, allow me to take a moment to give a talking point about our 2010 agenda.
Although there will doubtless be opponents to our bill, the Brewery Modernization Act will not increase the availability, portability, or strength of beer in any way. It’s only effect would be more local breweries which means that more beer, in areas where beer is already sold, will come from Alabama breweries instead of being imported from other states and countries. There is more of an in-state economic benefit for buying local beer – not only does an in-state retailer get paid, an in-state brewery does as well.
I’m not going to make the claim that the Brewery Modernization Act will save the economy, but I will claim that it can only help and that it will not cost the state a penny. In fact, it will generate state revenue in the form of fees and taxes. If we assume a dozen new breweries open up in Alabama as a result of this bill, that’s $12,000 annually in licensing fees alone. A dozen new breweries would put us about on par with the brewing industry of South Carolina which has a similar culture and population as Alabama. In addition to the licensing fees, there are also the business taxes, the embedded alcohol taxes, the sales taxes, the income taxes of the employees, and the list goes on. (This isn’t an anti-tax rant I promise).
I don’t want to mislead anyone. In the grand scheme of the state economy at-large, I do not expect the Brewery Modernization Act to be a significant boom. However, for the would-be brewery owners and their employees it would mean a viable business and a paycheck. For the beer distributors and retailers around the state, it would mean new products to offer their customers. For the rest of us, it means more local beer choices and the further emergence of beer culture.
And for all of this benefit, we’re only asking the state to make the law more business-friendly to Alabama’s current and potential local breweries. No new state agency needs to be created, no new ABC agents need be hired. The current regulatory structure is more than adequate. Isn’t this legislation just common sense?