12 Hours on Capitol Hill

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With the 111th Congress reconvened for the post-election lame duck session, 15 principals of Brewers Association (BA) brewery member companies from 13 states traveled to Washington, DC on December 1 for another push on H.R. 4278, the small brewery graduated excise tax legislation.

Much important work remains before Congress wraps up the current session, including tax legislation that could conceivably include the excise tax provisions. BA members seized this opportunity to reach out to Representatives in key states to educate and ask for co-sponsorship on H.R. 4278, with a total of 83 separate meetings held with Representatives and staff. The effort had an immediate impact, with seven new co-sponsors signing on and many more likely in the days ahead.

The bill now has the support of 123 Representatives, a significant number for any piece of legislation before Congress, and includes 27 members of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Bill Covaleski of Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Co. found the experience enlightening and the reception he received encouraging. “As a small business owner, someone who actually has a hand in creating jobs, my words definitely carried weight and I had the full attention of those I met with. It’s extremely empowering to be part of the political dialogue and a part of the process. I would encourage every small brewer to get involved at this level because you absolutely can make a difference.”

Although the focus of these visits was on maximizing the opportunity presented in the waning days of this Congress, they also have much value for the future when the 112th Congress convenes in January, 2011. Further outreach will occur in the early days of the new session as dozens of new Members are sworn in and officially take office.

While on Capitol Hill, the brewers also participated in a meeting of the House Small Brewers Caucus, discussing both the tax legislation and winter seasonal beer styles with Caucus members. Rounding out the day was the annual Taste of the Holidays reception for Congress, which attracted 600-700 Members of Congress and their staff for beer samples provided by 32 BA member breweries from across the country.

Participating BA Members:

Jamie Bartholomaus – Foothills Brewing Co. (NC)
Deb Carey – New Glarus Brewing Co. (WI)
Pat Conway – Great Lakes Brewing Co. (OH)
Bill Covaleski – Victory Brewing Co. (PA)
John Hall – Goose Island Beer Company (IL)
Steve Hindy – Brooklyn Brewery (NY)
Andy Ingram – Four Peaks Brewing Co. (AZ)
Dan Kopman – The Saint Louis Brewery (MO)
Nick Matt – Matt Brewing Co. (NY)
Kevin McCarthy – Brindle Dog Brewing Co. (FL)
John Pinkerton – Moon River Brewing Co. (GA)
Scott Roussell – Bluegrass Brewing Co. (KY)
David Walker – Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (CA)
Gene Muller – Flying Fish Brewing Co. (NJ)
Omar Ansari – Surly Brewing Co. (MN)