Last week, the mayors of Annapolis, Frederick, Cambridge and Ocean City threw their support behind the Reform on Tap Act of 2018, a bill drafted by Comptroller Peter Franchot after he chaired a task force examining the state’s beer laws.
The legislation, which will appear before the House Economic Matters Committee on Feb. 23, aims to curtail limits on beer production and taproom hours, ease access to Class B or D licenses for microbreweries, and other brewer-friendly proposals.
At a press conference, the group of municipal leaders touted the ways breweries have helped their communities.
“These entrepreneurs create jobs, stimulate economic activity and attract tourists from around the region,” said Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor. “But more than the economic stimulus they provide, these family-owned businesses have become engaged and active members of our community and work to help improve every facet of our city.”
Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley said the bill would help RAR Brewing, a big tourist draw for her city.
“The passage of HB 518 will result in continued success for RAR and its direct impact on economic growth and tourism for our local economy,” she said. “A local once told me, ‘Mayor, it’s all about local flavor.’ HB 518 supports our local flavor.”
Or, in the case of Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, who is also a restaurant owner, it was a chance to show how places are missing out. He noted that there isn’t a single brewery in the state capital’s historic district.
“Across the country from Bend, Oregon, to Boulder, Colorado, to Asheville, North Carolina, we are standing by and watching other small cities flourish from the explosive growth of breweries, which bring along with them culture, art, music and everything that makes a city great and attractive,” he said. “We must change our archaic system of laws and start supporting breweries instead of sending them away to other cities.”
Noticeably absent was Mayor Catherine Pugh, the leader of the state’s largest city. Like the leaders of all of the state’s 157 municipalities, she was invited to offer an endorsement. A spokeswoman from Pugh’s office said she has not yet taken a stance on the bill.
But Franchot’s office still hopes to land it.
“We would welcome her support,” said spokesman Alan Brody. “Since Baltimore is home to the most craft breweries in the state, Mayor Pugh can certainly speak to their value as small business owners, job creators and community builders.”
Brody said they are hosting an event with county leaders later this month that would include Baltimore because it is an independent jurisdiction. Before that, Franchot will be at Wet City on Feb. 13 to discuss the Reform on Tap Act.
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