In the last few weeks, the Craft Beverage Reform and Modernization Act of 2015 and its companion bill in the House have seen its list of co-sponsors grow longer. An additional 16 House members signed on as co-sponsors of the bill just in the last three weeks—bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 126. The Act has 28 co-sponsors in the Senate as well, including 9 added since the beginning of October. It appears there is bipartisan support for the Act, as the co-sponsors are a relatively even mix of Democrats and Republicans for both companion bills.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Act in June of this year as a comprehensive tax reform bill intended to ease regulations and excise taxes on smaller alcoholic beverage producers. Some of the key provisions were summarized in our prior legislative update.
Industry organizations, including both the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute have shown support for the Act. Those two organizations have not lent joint support to bills reforming regulations and taxes for alcoholic beverage producers in the past, which has likely been an obstacle to prior attempts at reform.
The Act has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee and its companion bill to the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees. Unfortunately, there has been no movement of either bill beyond these referrals. There is still plenty of time for the Act to pass before this Congress ends in January 2017 so this may be the session where we see a successful craft beverage tax and regulatory reform bill.