April 2014 Update

From the desk of State Representative Dan Ramos

At the start of this year, we were able to get the endorsement of the Ohio Craft Brewer’s Association, which we were very pleased about.  Unfortunately, we are still awaiting a first hearing on the legislation in the House Committee on Policy and Legislative Oversight, which is chaired by Rep. Dovilla.  There’s a pretty good article that ran recently on Cleveland.com summarizing the current progress, it can be found here.  In the article, the Chair’s office indicated that, with the various Mid-Biennium Review bills pending before the House, there was no target date for the first scheduled hearing. There is no procedure in place to force a hearing to be called as it is within the full discretion of the chair of each committee, who is appointed by the Speaker of the House. 

Once this bill is called for a first hearing, I will send out another legislative update to those who have asked to be kept in the loop.

Thanks for your continued interest, let me know if you have any other questions.

Best,

John Tyler | Legislative Aide

Office of Representative Dan Ramos

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January 2014 Update

From the desk of State Representative Dan Ramos

Friends, I am writing you today to update you with the status of House Bill 391, which would change the law in Ohio to change the maximum allowable ABV in beer to 21%.  As you are aware, the current 12% cap faced in Ohio is inconsistent with all but one of our bordering states and inconsistent with the majority of states across the country.  This has resulted in a needless restriction on Ohio’s brewers and has forced tax dollars out-of-state as consumers continue to cross the border into Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania to purchase specialty brews not sold in Ohio.

 

Earlier this morning, H.B. 391 was assigned to the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.  This committee is chaired byRepresentative Mike Dovilla (R – Berea).  The next step in the legislative process will be for this legislation to receive a first hearing, during which I will go before the committee to describe the legislation and answer any questions the members of the committee may have.  This first hearing is typically referred to as “Sponsor Testimony”.  Chairman Dovilla has ultimate discretion as to when to call this bill forward for sponsor testimony and, once sponsor testimony is held, no further action is guaranteed by the legislature.

 

Many of you have reached out to my office and asked what you can do to help.  Becoming a public proponent for H.B. 391 is a crucial component in organizing support for this legislation.  I would like to provide the Chairman and members of the committee letters of support from businesses and organizations affiliated with the industry during sponsor testimony.  If you, or someone you know affiliated with the industry, would like to become a public proponent of this legislation please contact my office.  Should you have questions or need assistance in this regard, my legislative aide, John Tyler (John.Tyler@OhioHouse.gov), would be happy to work with you during the process. 

 

If you do not represent a business or affiliated member organization, I would still urge you to reach out and contact your State Representative as well as Chairman Dovilla’s office directly to voice your support for H.B. 391 and ask that it be given timely consideration before the committee. You can find the contact for your State Representative by clicking here and entering your zip code in the bottom left corner of the website.  You can contact the committee Chairperson via the following: 

The Honorable Mike Dovilla
77 S. High St., 13th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

P: 614-466-4895
E: Rep07@OhioHouse.gov

 

As I mentioned in a previous e-mail, I am hopeful about the progress that can be made on this bill this General Assembly.  There are 21 total legislators in support of raising the allowable ABV in beer to 21%, with nearly equal support from both parties (12 Democrats, 9 Republicans).  This week marks the start of the 2014 legislative session and I look forward to continuing the discussion in pursuit of this goal.  As always, if I can be of any further service to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

 

Cheers,

Dan Ramos

State Representative

56th Ohio House District

Office: 614-466-5141

Rep56@OhioHouse.Gov

 

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Plain Dealer Article

A nice article written by Marc Bona on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website helps provide more information on the bill and some quotes from state representative Ramos.

http://www.cleveland.com/drinks/index.ssf/2013/12/beer-alcohol_limit_increase_to.html

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December Update

I have just received the following email from Representative Ramos Office.  Attached are the actual emails.

I am writing you because, in the past, you have contacted my office and expressed your interest in legislation I have been working on in Ohio to raise the allowable ABV in beer from 12% to 21%.

As you may be aware, I first began work on this legislation during the 129th General Assembly.  The legislation was introduced on October 26th, 2011 with eight legislators agreeing to cosponsor the legislation. Ultimately, H.B. 356 only had one hearing before the State Government and Elections Committee and failed to receive additional hearings or be put to a vote before the General Assembly dissolved on December 31st, 2012. Over the course of 2013, I have been working hard to broaden support for raising the ABV limit and spreading awareness among legislators of the growing support for this measure in our state by both businesses and consumers.

With all of that in mind, I am pleased to let you know that the legislation to raise the allowable ABV has been formally re-introduced and will soon be assigned to committee. Including myself, 21 total legislators – 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans – have signed on to support increasing the allowable ABV in beer in Ohio to 21%. Of course, the legislative process moves slowly and this will likely remain a work in process for some time to come, but it is very encouraging that this legislation attracted cosponsors from all political ideologies.

This increase in cosponsors, I believe, is evidence of our state’s growing awareness of the significant economic impact the beer industry has and recognition of the great products that so many breweries within our state are producing.

In the coming weeks, this legislation will be assigned a bill number and then to a committee for consideration. Before the bill can go to a vote on the House floor the committee will need to hold public hearings and take a vote on the proposed legislation. I will continue to write with any updates as they are available. In the meantime, I would encourage you to contact your State Representative on this issue and urge their support on this matter. If you do not know who your State Representative is you can find their name and office information by visiting the following link: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/. The “Member Search” feature is located in the bottom left hand corner of the website.

Additionally, if you are a member of an industry organization or operate a business within the industry and would be willing to provide a letter establishing yourself as a proponent of this legislation please reach out to my legislative aide, John Tyler, by e-mail at John.Tyler@OhioHouse.gov or by phone at (614) 466-5141. We will be providing a list of proponents to the committee chairperson once this legislation has been assigned to a committee for consideration.

For your convenience, I have included a copy of the press release that went out upon introduction below. Feel free to circulate it among your networks as you see fit. Thank you, again, for your continued interest in this issue. If you have questions or if I can be of service to you in any way please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Cheers,

Dan Ramos

As always, please sign the petition if you haven’t already.

https://www.change.org/petitions/raise-ohio-beer-abv

Ohiobeerlaw-update

OhioBeerLaw-Update2

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Fall Session Update

The House and Senate should be back from their summer recess shortly and will begin the Fall Session.  Hopefully there can be some progress made on the bill now that the budget has been passed.  Any updates will be posted here immediately.

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June/July Update

I have received this update from John Tyler, the Legislative Aid to Representative Ramos:

“We’re still working on drafting a bill that we feel can get the broadest support possible within the House.

Since the State budget has not yet passed, we’ve been holding back on moving this particular piece of legislation forward.  The House and Senate have both passed versions of the State budget and, beginning next week, we should be moving to Conference committee in order to address the differences between the two versions.  Theoretically, the budget should be passed by June 30th, 2013 at which point the House will adjourn for summer recess.

I would anticipate that we would be moving what was H.B. 356 forward no later than the beginning of fall session.  The Speaker has not yet released the session schedule for the second half of this year; however, traditionally it begins just after Labor Day.

I’ll do my best to keep you posted when this gets legs and starts moving.”

My Take:

The state budget passed on June 30th.  Summer session is now in full tilt.  Unfortunately this means congressional sessions are  based on “need” only.  It looks like it will be a low key summer.  Hopefully in the fall we can get some momentum going again.  I will keep updates going on here as I get them.

And you can always sign the petition:

https://www.change.org/petitions/raise-ohio-beer-abv

Cheers!

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February Update

I have received this update from John Tyler, the Legislative Aid to Representative Ramos:

Currently, activity in the House is focused on assessing and addressing the Governor’s proposed state budget. That said, we are still reaching out to interested parties with the beer bill language as well as seeking an opportunity to address this issue within the state budget bill.

Things are still moving forward, albeit slowly. Once the state budget work has been completed within the House (early guesses point towards mid to late April), there may be greater opportunity to bring this issue forward. A lot of this comes down to internal timing, and trying to make sure that when we bring this forward there is an opportunity for it to receive attention and not be lost in the legislative workload that comes with the biennial budget bill.

My take:

This is not surprising as John Tyler had previously stated that the state’s budget was going to be the focus of the early part of the year.    I will keep checking to see if they make any progress.   It appears this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, as I’m sure is the case with any legislative bill.

In the meantime, the petition to raise the ABV has been growing over the last month.  If you haven’t signed it, please take a few moments and check it out.

https://www.change.org/petitions/raise-ohio-beer-abv

I would also like to say thanks to Rick at The Ohio Beer Blog for his help in raising awareness with this article:

http://www.ohio.com/blogs/the-beer-blog/the-beer-blog-1.273124/ohio-lawmaker-plans-to-seek-higher-abv-1.366994

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January Status

The revised bill is waiting to be submitted by Representative Ramos.  Once the bill is submitted and approved it will receive a dedicated House Bill Number.  This can take 1-3 months.  As soon as the bill receives a number it will be posted here.  It must be revised and resubmitted due to a new General Assembly taking over on January 1st, 2013.

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Ohio Beer Law History

Ohio currently has a 12% ABV cap on all salable beer.  If a beer is over the 12% limit is not able to be sold or brewed in the state of Ohio.

Prohibition set the ABV at 0%.  It was moved to 6% after prohibition was lifted.  In 2002 the limit was moved from 6% to 12%.  Ohio Senator Jimmy Stewart (R) introduced a bill in 2011 to raise the allowable ABV to 18%.  It made it to the House floor where it was passed by largely due to the popularity of the at-the-time caffeine infused malt liquor known as 4 Lokos.

Senator Jimmy Stewart’s term ended and the bill was picked up by current bill sponsor Representative Dan Ramos (D).  The bill was known has House Bill 356 and was submitted to the 129th General Assembly and would raise the allowable ABV to 21%.  The bill picked up a little momentum but the end of 2012 also signified the end of the 129th General Assembly.  A change of General Assembly wipes all in-progress bills off the record and requires them to be resubmitted.

Dan Ramos plans on resubmitting the bill to raise the allowable beer ABV over 12%.  The bill will likely be revised but will be similar to House Bill 356.  It can take 1-3 months for the bill to be resubmitted.  It will receive a new House Bill number and start the process of becoming law.

After the bill is formally submitted, a State Government and Elections Committee (sub-committee) will be assigned to the bill.  This committee will have a chairman that is in charge of overseeing the bill.  In the 129th General Assembly the Chairman over House Bill 356 was Representative Ron Maag and he is likely to be the chairman when the bill is reintroduced.

Most bills are guaranteed at least one hearing although it is common for multiple hearings to take place.  The chairman then takes the bill to a committee vote.  If the committee approves it goes to the Speaker of the House.   It will be at the digression of the Speaker to decide if and when the bill goes to a vote.  If the bill makes it past the house it will then be passed on to the senate and if approved there will go to the governor to be signed into law.

How to make a difference:

When the bill goes to the sub-committee the names of those on the committee will released.  It is important to contact these committee members with the concerns of those in favor of the bill.  This can be done via e-mail, letters, or phone calls.  Letting the representatives and senators know there are people in their district that care can go a long way to getting the bill passed through.

Signing the petition below can be helpful as well as it shows a united front by those in support of the Bill.

https://www.change.org/petitions/raise-ohio-beer-abv

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