Ocean City Today
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House vote kills Reform on Tap, Franchot will try again

By Josh Davis | Mar 22, 2018

(March 23, 2018) Although proponents of the Reform on Tap Act last week appeared bullish on the prospects of new laws said to be friendlier to Maryland craft brewers, the House Economic Matters Committee voted overwhelmingly to kill House Bill 518 last Friday.

Local backers of the bill included the Worcester County Commissioners, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, Worcester County Tourism Director Lisa Challenger, Berlin Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells, Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Irwin, Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Director Melanie Pursel and Shore Craft Beer founder Ann Hillyer.

The Reform on Tap Act was drafted by State Comptroller Peter Franchot and designed to help Maryland brewers compete with brewers in neighboring states.

Franchot, on his official Facebook page, said on Friday the vote was “more business as usual in Annapolis – the corporate beer lobbyists did their job and got their money’s worth.”

“Meanwhile, our independent craft brewers – who are creating thousands of local jobs, strengthening local economies and rebuilding local communities across Maryland – have once again received the message that our state’s leaders are fundamentally hostile to their chosen line of work. Aside from the lobbyists who did what they’re hired to do, today’s big winner is the Commonwealth of Virginia, who will most assuredly use this display by the legislature to recruit our brewers to cross state lines,” Franchot said.

“Rest assured that this is merely the beginning of the fight to save Maryland’s amazing craft beer industry. I’m quite familiar with the power the corporate beer monopoly wields in the halls of Annapolis, and we knew from the start that this would be a long and difficult battle. I look forward to taking this issue into every contested primary and general election in our state this year – into every county, district and precinct. And I look forward to coming back to Annapolis in 2019 and making the case for good beer, good jobs and good times in the State we love,” he continued.

Franchot thanked “the nearly 10,000 people who signed our petition in support of Reform on Tap, as well as the consumers, small business owners and local elected officials who made the case with such passion and eloquence before the legislature.”

“My deepest thanks, as always, go to our brewers, who have risked everything and given so much more to our state than they will ever receive in return. They embody the very finest entrepreneurial traditions of Maryland, and I will spend the rest of my career – if that’s what it takes – to give them, their employees and their families a fair chance to succeed,” he said.

“I’m going to have a cold Maryland beer and enjoy a quiet evening with my family. Tomorrow, the fight for Reform on Tap begins all over again,” Franchot said.

House members who voted to support HB 518 were Charlie Barkley (D-39), Luke Clippinger (D-46), Bill Frick (D-16) and Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18).

Those who voted against the bill were: Chairman Dereck Davis (D-25) Vice-Chairwoman Sally Jameson (D-28), Chris Adams (R-37), Steve Arentz (R-36), Susan Aumann (R-42), Talmadge Branch (D-45), Ben Brooks (D-10), Ned Carey (D-31), Diana Fennell (D-47), Cheryl Glenn (D-45), Seth Howard (R-30), Rick Impallaria (R-7), Ben Kramer (D-19), Mary Ann Lisanti (D-34), Johnny Mautz (R-37), Warren Miller (R-9), Kris Valderrama (D-26), C.T. Wilson (D-28).

Mark Fisher (R-27) was excused from the vote.

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