House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas, discusses Senate Bill 85 on Monday, March 13, 2017. The bill, which passed 147-14, allows craft beer and liquor manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres
Photo: Bob Andres

Craft beer, liquor bill clears Georgia House

Legislation allowing craft beer and liquor manufacturers to sell directly to consumers passed the Georgia House on Monday. 

The House voted 147-14 to approve Senate Bill 85. The bill must now go back to the Senate after a House committee amended it to include liquor distilleries. The original Senate version focused just on beer brewers. 

The Senate is expected to go along with the change, meaning SB 85 could be on its way to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk this week. 

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The bill is seen as a final compromise between manufacturers and alcohol wholesalers who currently hold exclusive rights to purchase beer or liquor from those who make it. 

If signed into law, it would end several years of fighting between the wholesalers and manufacturers who have long sought the ability to offer limited quantities to its customers. 

“A lot of interested parties have worked to perfect this legislation,” House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas, said. 

Rep. Michael Caldwell, R-Woodstock, said the bill will finally allow Georgia to join the 49 other states that allow direct sales from breweries. 

“Breweries that aren’t in Georgia are 2.5 times more profitable,” Caldwell said. “Because (in Georgia) we don’t let them do business like 49 other states do business.”

But Rep. Dominic Lariccia, R-Douglas, opposed the bill, saying he the state does not do enough to address alcohol’s negative impacts on families. 

“It’s not a war against alcohol, per se, it’s a war against what alcohol is doing to the families,” Lariccia said after the vote.

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Staff writer Michelle Baruchman contributed.

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