Legislation aimed at attracting larger breweries to the state by paving the way for expanded rights for South Carolina brewpubs passed the South Carolina House of Representatives today by an overwhelming margin after being added as an amendment to another alcohol-related bill.
Wednesday, the House took up H 3512, a bill that would allow alcoholic beverage retailers and wholesalers to offer discounts to consumers through coupons and other means. During debate on the legislation, the brewpub bill – widely known as The Stone Bill – was attached as an amendment, which in turn would keep the full language and impact intact while negating the need to debate it as a separate bill. By a vote of 88-4, the House passed the bill – and with it the amendment regarding brewpubs – and sent it back to the Senate for a final vote.
The Stone Bill would, among other things, allow brewpubs in South Carolina to increase production from 2,000 BBLs a year to 500,000 BBLs a year as well as open the doors for brewpubs to sell their beers off-premises through a distributor. Currently, brewpubs can produce only a limited amount of beer annually and are restricted to selling their beers on site through growler fills.
But as the name entails, there’s a bigger picture. Namely, it would be attractive to larger national breweries – including Stone, which is looking to establish an East Coast operation – by opening the doors for increased production and sales at retail and brewpub-like establishments. Stone has not yet announced where it plans to locate its satellite operation but the bill would certainly make the Palmetto State more attractive in that regard.
In short, this is great news for the bill in the waning days of the Legislature. Whereas before it would have had to go through the motions of debate in both chambers, it’s now able to forgo those formalities as an amendment. Following the House’s action, the bill returns to the South Carolina Senate for a final vote, and if approved goes before Gov. Nikki Haley to be signed into law. Granted, the Senate could nix everything, but seeing as how H 3512 received a 42-1 vote in favor of the legislation the last time it was in that chamber, the chance of The Stone Bill passing this session just increased exponentially.