JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After fears that Rep. Robert Cornejo’s draft beer bill would not make it out of committee, an amendment written by Rep. Jack Bondon, R-Belton, ensured an 11-1 vote in the Emerging Issues Committee to send the bill to the floor.
Cornejo’s bill originally altered existing statutes that removed microbreweries from being subject to fees collected by cities and counties as well as other liquor license provisions. It also allowed microbreweries to sell refrigeration units and for microbrewery employees to sell beer on the premises if they are licensed to sell to retailers.
However, despite the design of the bill to serve microbreweries in Missouri, some worried certain groups that breweries like Anheuser-Busch would benefit more than breweries like 4 Hands. The theory was that larger brewers could use the provisions regulating the lease of refrigeration units to retailers and restaurants and effectively flood the market with their products and leave small brewers high and dry.
“There was a concern that it may have given added benefit to larger brewers over smaller brewers in our state, and with the expansion and growth in the small brewers, we wanted to make sure to protect their interests as well,” Bondon said.
So Bondon, who has a professional background in distribution, offered an amendment after deliberation with members of the legislature, as well as large and small brewers to find a solution.
“We worked with the Small Brewer’s Guild in St. Louis, as well as Anheuser-Busch and the folks from Miller-Coors, as well as the folks from Boulevard, to make sure that all of the people’s interests were protected,” he said.
The amendment limits the size and number of refrigeration units that can be offered to a retailer, and gives small brewers time before large brewers to distribute those units of these through wholesalers beginning on Jan 21, 2017.
Bondon noted not everyone was entirely happy despite the amendment, but it got the bill safely through committee.
“This is a compromise, this is not something with which everybody is perfectly happy but it is a good step forward.”