Political Notes – Craft brewers feeling bubbly again

[private]The Department of Revenue has essentially backed down from its position in the industry dispute between wholesale beer distributors and craft brewers over the retail sales of beers at these small breweries.

The revenue department’s shift came about after powerful legislators like House Speaker David Ralston and Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer had warned the agency that the General Assembly would step in and settle the dispute.

As reported Tuesday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the two sides reached an agreement that will allow brewers to charge variable prices for brewery tours based on the price of the beer being marketed and will allow special events at breweries and distilleries.

The fight dated back to the passage of a bill last year that opened the door for craft brewers to sell small quantities of their beer in conjunction with tours of their breweries, a move that was opposed by the established beer wholesalers.

The revenue department promulgated rules for these brewery tours that craft brewers said were too restrictive and too favorable to the beer wholesalers. Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), the author of the craft brewers bill, complained that the agency had “neutered” the intent of his legislation with its rules.

Ralston came down on the side of the small brewers and indicated he would intervene with the revenue department over its interpretation of the craft brewers’ bill.

“We’ll try to see if they (revenue officials) can get to the intention of that bill,” Ralston said. “If they can’t, I’ll be glad to support a legislative initiative that does that for them.”

Kemp urges early voting

Secretary of State Brian Kemp notes that registered voters can vote now for a candidate in the March 1 Democratic or Republican Preference Primaries through a mail-in absentee ballot.

“In Georgia, we have a very responsive system for the public that allows voters to cast their ballot at their convenience,” Kemp said. “This, paired with our Online Voter Registration website (OLVR), gives unprecedented access to the polls for Georgia voters.”

GEFA official now works for Gainesville

Linda MacGregor, until recently Water Resources Division director and senior program manager at the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), has been hired as Gainesville’s director of the Department of Water Resources.

“Her knowledge of the state water management policy and the tri-state water issues is a tremendous benefit and will allow us to continue to move this department forward in a timely manner,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said.

Executive appointments

The governor’s office announced the following appointments to state boards and commissions –

Board of Public Safety: Pooler Police Chief Mark Revenew and Pete Skandalakis, the district attorney of the Coweta Judicial Circuit.

Georgia World War I Centennial Commission: Rick Elder of Sylvania, a state inspector for the Georgia Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and chairman of the Screven County Vietnam Commemorative Partnership.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: beer wholesalers , Brian Kemp , craft brewers , David Ralston , GEFA , Nathan Deal appointments , revenue department