First Hurdle Down!!!!
The first major hurdle in getting SB 444 passed has been cleared! Today the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee heard testimony and held a work session on the bill.
Senators and Representatives always testify first. Representative Schaufler lent his support, Senator Boquist spoke about how he worked on SB 511, but was supporting SB 444 because it gave homebrewers all the rights they have been enjoying for so many years and Senator Prozanski spoke about his support of the bill and answered questions.
Then it was our turn. First to speak was Gary Glass, Director of the American Homebrewers Association. Gary’s testimony was focused on statistics from a national perspective including how many homebrewers, clubs and competitions exist in the US, the growth of homebrewing, the BJCP program and contest.
Representing the Oregon Brew Crew and the Oregon Homebrewers Alliance, Chris Hummert talked about what it meant to not be able to transport homebrew or hold competitions and the economic impact that has had on the businesses that support homebrewing. Chris discussed some of the contests around the state that were canceled last year and those that have been delayed this year in the hopes the law will pass. He wrapped up his testimony by explaining the importance of the homebrewing clubs and how they help homebrewers better their craft.
Denny Conn representing the Cascade Brewers Society and the Oregon Homebrewers Alliance spoke about groundswell of support from the homebrewing community that helped form this bill unlike other bills proposed this session. Denny provided a great description of the people and culture of homebrewing and more importantly that the homebrewers on the whole are not a fringe group of society. Also noted in his testimony was that the White House served homebrew at their superbowl party this year.
Representing small startup breweries, Matt Radtke from Gilgamesh Brewing spoke about his venture into a brewing business just over a year ago. Matt and his family were homebrewers for 15 years before starting a business. He talked about his experiences with homebrewing, competitions and the brewing community that allowed him to take the next step in his brewing hobby and become a professional brewer.
An OLCC representative was the last to testify at the hearing today. On behalf of OLCC, his message was of full support for the bill and that activities homebrewers and the homebrewing community engage in that are not commercial are very important to the state of Oregon.
Senator Beyer, Chair of the committee closed public testimony and opened a work session where they voted to pass the bill out of committee. Next stop is the Senate floor where it will be voted on. Assuming passage in the Senate, it will move to a the House. The Senate floor vote could happen as soon as next Thursday, February 16. Once passed it will move to a House Committee where it will go through the same process. After passage in the House it will go to the Governor to be signed. An emergency clause in the bill allows it to become law immediately upon signature of the Governor. If the pace set today is any indication, we may well have the bill signed by the end of March.