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The first reports are coming in (see below). Today, I’m live in Olympia where members of the Washington brewing community have descended upon the state capitol. Leading the charge, the Washington Brewers Guild. The mission, engage in meaningful dialog with lawmakers and other officials. The goal, inform and educate. In other words, make them understand that the proposed beer tax plan is a bad idea because it would jeopardize one of Washington’s only growth industries.
I am on the scene, and will share what I learn from the brewers as they return from these meetings. The Washington Brewers Guild is on twitter, by the way. @WaBrewersGuild
10:45 – Members are gathered to discuss the different meetings, messaging and strategy. The key points include: unfair tax on one industry, impact on brewing industry and related industries, and more. Some brewers are already out meeting with folks.
11:27 – Tom Mace from Black Raven Brewing of Redmond, WA just returned from a meeting with Gerry Pollet from the 46th district. Pollet is the representative in Mace’s home district in Seattle, a district in which there are breweries. Representative Pollet is in favor of taxing the breweries and offered, basically, no support.
Mace also met with Rodney Tom and Cyrus Habib (both of from the 48th district). The 48th is the home district for Black Raven Brewing. Thank you, Reperentatives Tom and Habib!
11:49 – Heather McClung, President of the Washington Brewers Guild, and one of the owners of Schooner Exact Brewing, reports: Representative Sharon Nelson (34th district) backed out of a scheduled meeting.
11:55 – Steve from Dirty Bucket Brewing (Woodinville, WA) reports: “We had a brief meeting with Roger Goodman’s office, and although I didn’t get a strong feeling he was on our side, he did seem concerned about the affect the tax would have on all breweries in his district.” Goodman represents the 45th district.
12:01 – Heather McClung reports that, apparently, Representative Reuven Carlyle is in favor of reducing taxes on the “Big Boys” and increasing taxes on craft breweries. Carlyle represents the 36th district. He is the chairman of the House Finance Committee. This is bad news!
12:32 – CALL TO ACTION!
I am asking all concerned craft beer lovers, breweries and brewery employees to please contact members of the House Finance Committee. Ask them to support an amendment that would exempt microbreweries from any beer tax proposal out of the committee. Ask them to become a prime sponsor of the amendment. Tell them that they can contact TK Bentler about sponsorship. Get direct links to their contact info here.
Here are the members that need to be contacted (or use the link above).
Representative – Phone
Carlyle, Reuven (D) Chair – (360) 786-7814
Tharinger, Steve (D) Vice Chair – (360) 786-7904
Nealey, Terry (R) – (360) 786-7828
Orcutt, Ed (R) - (360) 786-7990
Condotta, Cary (R) - (360) 786-7954
Fitzgibbon, Joe (D) – (360) 786-7952
Hansen, Drew (D) - (360) 786-7842
Lytton, Kristine (D) - (360) 786-7800
Pollet, Gerry (D) – (360) 786-7886
Reykdal, Chris (D) - (360) 786-7940
Springer, Larry (D) - (360) 786-7822
Vick, Brandon (R) – (360) 786-7850
Wilcox, J.T. (R) – (360) 786-7912
12:54 – Joel, Mark and Brent from Two Beers Brewing (Seattle, WA) met with Representative Bergquist earlier. He speaks of a possible tiered tax system. Offers a little support, but says a tax will most likely happen. Bergquist represents the 11th district. See another update below regarding Rep. Bergquist.
Joel (Two Beers) met with Representative Hudgins, also from the 11th district, who offered little support and said that he doesn’t know what will happen now.
Brent and Mark (Two Beers) met with Representative Pederson’s staff. They were told that Representative Pederson is well informed and would like to see the exemption stay in place. Thank you Representative Pederson! Pederson represents the 43rd district.
12:56 – This news comes from Donald and Bryan from Naked City Brewing (Seattle, WA). Representative Gael Tarleton (36th district) says she supports continuing the exemption and actually offered an alternative tax proposal. Good on ya, Representative!
UPDATE – I was contacted by Rep. Gael Tarleton’s office. They asked me to clarify her position: “Rep. Tarleton doesn’t like the tax, but talked about how they’re probably looking at an alternative tax proposal.”
1:13 – Pam and Oliver Brulotte, of Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth, WA report the following: “Met with Cary Condotta one of our 12th dist reps and he is very supportive of small business and specifically the craft brewing industry. He understands the need for our industry to continue to invest in our establishments and how higher taxes will impede this growth. ” Thank you Representative Condotta!
1:15 – Heather McClung reports that Representative Bergquist will support a tax raise of 15 cent per gallon. Note that the current proposal would be closer to 50 cents per gallon, but it still shows a lack of understanding of the impact tax increases will have on the craft beer industry and consumer.
1:41 – Heather McClung reports:
Representative Eilene Cody (34th district) says she will raise taxes on craft brewers. Senator Sharon Nelson, also of the 34th district, sounds unsupportive.
We are hoping Representative Joe Fitzgibbon will be persuaded to prime sponsor an amendment to exempt small brewers from any tax increases coming out of the House Finance Committee. You can call Fitzgibbon’s offices at (360) 786-7952 or send him an electronic message (click here).
Tell Representative Fitzgibbon: “I would like you to prime sponsor an amendment to exempt small brewers from any tax increases coming out of the House Finance Committee.”
2:30 – Steve from Dirty Bucket Brewing also reports – “Met with Sen. Andy Hill (45th district) who chairs the Ways and Means Committee and is a strong supporter for the Craft Beer Industry. Very supportive and restated that the senate has submitted their budget proposal that allows the excise tax to not only sunset as promised, but does not impose any new taxes and comes up with 1.8 Billion for public education.”
2:45 – Roger from Georgetown Brewing reports that he met with a couple of people this morning/afternoon. First off, he met with Senator David Frockt (46th district). He did not commit, but seemed reasonable, understand the concerns, and agreed that this tax does not sound like the best idea. Thank you, Senator Frockt, but now we need you to commit to opposing any tax on craft beer.
Roger Also met with Representative Zack Hudgins of the 11th, as did others. He said that Hudgins was uncommitted, but sounded as if he understood the issue. Thank you, Representative Hudgins, now get onboard and oppose any tax on craft beer.
4:58 – The meeting with the Governor went well. He generously gave the Brewers Guild an hour of his time, especially generous during a budget session. He listened dutifully to the Guild’s positions. He seemed concerned not only about the impact it will have on Washington small businesses, but also the impact it would have on consumers. More details to come.
That’s encouraging, but it doesn’t mitigate some of the tough words coming out of the legislature against craft beer.