Let Maryland brewers prosper

Will lawmakers recognize the need to allow more breweries to expand tasting rooms?

The Sun's comprehensive coverage of the proposed Guinness brewery and conflicting proposed legislation tells every small business, community member and Marylander what they need to know ("Bill to allow more beer sales at Maryland breweries passes House," March 18). Three House Bills, 1420, 1391 and 1283 all appear this year. However, only HB 1420 is pro-business, supporting small, independent entrepreneurs and companies like Guinness equally.

HB 1420 is proposed to raise the amount of beer a brewery can serve onsite. This would help small, independent breweries create much-needed cash flow to survive while providing Guinness with the incentive to invest $50 million in Baltimore County. Everyone benefits.

On the other hand, HB 1391 is a response to the incredibly punitive and anti-business HB 1283. HB 1391 allows a special exemption for Guinness to serve more beer onsite, while also expanding their lawful hours of tasting room operations because HB 1283 would essentially gut these opportunities for Maryland craft brewers.

HB 1283 is an anti-business bill supported by large money interests that want to hold back the future. It restricts the hours of tasting rooms to virtually daytime hours under the guise that small, independent breweries are taking sales from local businesses. The data say exactly the opposite.

Take a look at the buildings and communities being renovated and invested in by small, independent brewers and you immediately see the flaws in HB 1283. The increase in consumer traffic to neighborhood businesses and restaurants benefits small enterprises that otherwise would not see these patrons. New restaurants and eating establishments are opening in response to the demand for food venues for brewery visitors! These brewing entrepreneurs bring investment, jobs, opportunity and modern urban culture everywhere they go.

HB 1283 tries to funnel all the opportunity to those who have beyond plenty. It promotes extraction-based economic models, especially from the neighborhoods and communities that need to retain wealth creation. Small, local breweries don't diminish opportunity for commerce by taking a piece of the pie — they grow the pie. A rising tide raises all ships.

Maryland's hard-working craft brewing pioneers don't support this bill and neither should any Marylander. HB 1283 only benefits a handful of individuals with narrow agendas that offer nothing to the growth and prosperity of our state.

If Gov. Larry Hogan is truly pro-business and an advocate for small business development, he cannot and absolutely should not support this legislation. Shame on any legislator who votes for this bill.

Mark Grall, Pikesville

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