Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Powerful beer forces tap into Legislature for favor

Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee talk a good game about promoting the free market, removing regulations and encouraging entrepreneurs. But don't ask them to remove Florida's nonsensical ban that prohibits brew pubs from filling 64-ounce "growlers," the containers that beer lovers can use in 47 other states to buy beer for home consumption. Rather than stand with small business, legislative leaders are protecting political friends. A Senate committee has a chance to change that perception this afternoon.

No one is quite sure how Florida came to exclude 64-ounce growlers from the sizes acceptable to be filled in craft breweries. Gallon and 32-ounce growlers can be used, just not the more popular 2-quart size found in other states. So for years, the brewers have sought a simple addition to the law and beer distributors for major manufacturers like Anheuser-Busch have successfully blocked it.

But now distributors, whose power stems from the three-tier distribution system set up after Prohibition, are playing for keeps. While straightforward bills to allow the growlers stall, another bill (SB 1714) pushed by beer distributors with the blessing of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, is set for a hearing today in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. It would allow craft breweries to fill 64-ounce growlers from the draft spigot, but only after altering state law so that any nondraft alcoholic product the brewer sells (such as prepackaged bottles or cans) would have to first be sold to a distributor — even if it never leaves the brewery and is sold directly to consumers there. That sounds like a protection racket from an old gangster movie.

Only politically connected interests can demand such foolishness. Gaetz acknowledged to the Associated Press last month that he was backing the plan as a favor to Anheuser-Busch InBev distributor Lewis Bear, a longtime Republican donor. But that should not be the final word. Senators on the Community Affairs Committee should stand for less regulation and amend the bill today to allow 64-ounce growlers and prevent the distributors from skimming off profits as a middleman.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18