Franchot looks to loosen regulations on breweries (VIDEO)
August 16, 2017
By Brandon Bossert
Video available at http://www.wmdt.com/news/maryland/franchot-looks-to-loosen-regulations-on-breweries-1/605814234
SALISBURY, Md. - Maryland's Comptroller made a local visit Wednesday for a town hall to tap into restrictions and regulations on the craft brewing industry in the state.
The event was called Reform On Tap, held at the Evolution Craft Brewing Company. Franchot had his sights set on what he called antiquated, outdated laws.
"The beauty of this is (breweries) don't ask for anything, they don't need a tax break, they don't need a subsidy from the legislature. They just need the legislature to get out of their way," said Franchot.
A 40-person task force made up of breweries, retailers, consumer, and members of the legislature are going over those laws and together they are looking for common sense solutions. That task force will continue to meet through October to discuss recommendations for the state legislature for the 2018 session.
"We're going to get rid of a bunch of things that have been put in over the years that limit and restrict these craft breweries. The operating hours, the amount of beer that they can distribute themselves, the franchise laws that they operate under," Franchot continued.
Retailer Chuck Ferrar, who works closely with distributors and breweries, is on board with the comptroller's efforts. He says there is a lot of common ground, because when one piece of the puzzle wins, everyone wins.
"It's so important that we all come together and work together. That this reform committee is to work out things to look at our problems and issues, and we all come together and work together because we all want the same thing. We all want to sell more beer."
But the third and final piece of that puzzle says it's not that simple. The franchise law, mentioned as a law that would go by the way-side, is one distributor Richard Cary depends on. He says the law is needed to help him borrow on equipment.
"We need to really be careful what we do, because we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water... If they change the laws too much it could allow some of the bigger breweries come in and run some of our small retailers out of business and I'd hate to see that happen."
John Knorr, co-owner of Evolution Craft Crewing Co., says the way the laws are written now are a barrier to him marketing and expanding his business the way he wants.
"What it's saying is, 'hey guys you can't grow your business past this.' And that stuff is just anti-business, it's not what we need in the state of Maryland to make us a top brewing state, it's actually put us to the bottom, an undesirable brewing state."