Ralston To DOR: Fix Craft Brewery Tour Rules Or We Will

There are those that believe the “three tiered system” is really a “third rail” of Georgia politics. House Speaker David Ralston suggests they are wrong. And is not so subtle to the DOR in this suggestion. The AJC reports:

“I was disappointed in what the Department of Revenue did, because I think that thwarted the legislative intent of that legislation,” Ralston said. “And I would like to see them eliminate the need for legislative action, if they would go back and revisit that, because if they don’t, we may have to.”

Legislation adopted earlier this year gave craft brewers the ability to sell facility tours and give away their product afterward — a kind of backdoor way to actually sell their beer directly to customers, something brewers have long sought. After Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into the law, the state Revenue Department enacted rules governing the tours. Those regulations allowed brewers to create different tour packages at different price levels.

But months later, on Sept. 25, the department issued a “bulletin” saying while brewers can offer different levels of tours, the price differences cannot be based on the value of the beer. Many breweries, however, had already begun doing just that, based on the original rules the department issued in late June and on their understanding of lawmakers’ intentions.

Let me help the DOR translate this if there’s any ambiguity: It’s a really nice agency you have there.  Would be a shame if something happened to it.

Hopefully we won’t have to write about this unpleasantness throughout the session, presuming the Department of Revenue does the right thing here.

10 comments

  1. gcp says:

    The obvious answer is for the legislature to eliminate the “factory tour” requirement and allow patrons to buy unlimited quantities from brewers which should have been done with the original legislation. But of course such a move would disrupt the infamous alcohol monopoly we have in our “pro-business” state.

  2. Feeling the Bern says:

    Follow the money and start with the Distributor Monopoly. They are the deep pockets who make and break the rules.

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    There’s the example of what happened to DOR Commissioner Bart Graham for doing the right thing in the face of opposition of power.

  4. South Fulton Guy says:

    The DOR explanation of their ruling comes William Gaston a DOR spokesman How come we have yet to hear any comment from Lynne Riley, the GA State Revenue Commissioner who Nathan Deal tapped for DOR Commissioner after being his House Floor Leader? Am I missing something?

    • Will Durant says:

      Lynne Riley was on WSB last night and basically dared the Speaker and the legislature to do something about it. So they should with gusto. Factory direct pricing actually used to mean something back when we had factories. Why should beer be any different? DOR should only be involved in seeing that the proper tax is being collected.

    • Will Durant says:

      In recent years the Baptists insistence on drinking alone rather than together has complicated nearly 300 years of stupid lawmaking. It started with Oglethorpe banning demon rum in his new colony, though even he knew his debtors wouldn’t survive without beer and wine.

  5. gcp says:

    Anyone know why N. Ga. Wineries allow you to taste and buy retail on site while breweries require a tour before you can buy only a limited quantity of product? Very strange.

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