Members of the Maryland General Assembly:
On behalf of National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) supporters in Maryland, we urge you to amend H.B. 1283 before adopting it. In its current form, this bill contains several provisions that would be detrimental to Maryland’s breweries – a thriving component of the state’s small business community.
At its core, H.B. 1283 contains an important and meritorious provision – it would significantly expand the amount of beer that breweries can serve in their on-premise tasting rooms. By increasing the cap from 500 barrels to 2,000 barrels annually, this would be a boon to Maryland breweries. Not only would this help secure the construction of the proposed Guinness brewery and tasting room in Relay, Maryland, it would also help existing breweries grow and thrive. This component of the bill is a win for Maryland brewers, their consumers, and the state’s economy.
Unfortunately, H.B. 1283 also contains several problematic provisions that should be amended or eliminated. First, the bill would significantly scale back the permissible hours that an on-site tasting room may operate. By unnecessarily limiting the hours of operations, this would reduce sales and necessitate staffing reductions. The owner of one brewery in Baltimore, Union Craft Brewing, estimated that this change to current law would force his company to lay off 5 to 10 employees.
Additionally, H.B. 1283 would restrict the ability of breweries to sell beer that was not brewed entirely on premises. This provision would be highly detrimental to Maryland’s innovative breweries, many of which are garnering national attention and spurring increased tourism. In the beer industry, it is common practice for multiple breweries to collaborate and craft beers jointly. This bill would unfairly make it impossible to sell beer such beers on-premises. Further, this provision would bar small breweries from selling beer that was brewed on a contractual basis at another brewery. This is another common practice in the beer industry, especially for brewers with limited production capacity.
NTU urges you to amend H.B. 1283 to remove the provision that would drastically reduce tasting room operating hours. At a minimum, these hours should be changed to better reflect consumer demands. Additionally, we urge you to eliminate the provision that would bar the sale of beer that was not brewed entirely on premises. This would unfairly hurt collaborative brewing and contract brewing – commonplace practices that are helpful for innovation and small business expansion. With these amendments, NTU would enthusiastically support this pro-consumer legislation that would spur growth and job creating in the brewing industry.