Writing to your State Legislators about Florida Craft Beer

A recent op-ed article from Laurence Reisman in defense of opening Florida’s great craft breweries seemed to hit home to a lot of breweries and owners in the state.

A good deal of those reaction posts are centered around reaching out to local legislators to see if they understand what craft beer brings to the state of Florida, and what they can do to help.

The Florida Brewer’s Guild released an excellent video a few days ago, curated by the amazing Jillian Lynch at Leaven Brewing, but the one thing it didn’t seem to have was a sample letter people can send to legislators.

Many social movements such as this seem to have a sample letter people can copy and paste to their legislators. I was told there is one, created by the Guild, but I can’t find it and other people have asked me to make one. So, here it is.

Before the letter, let’s actually look for information on how to send it. It’s pretty easy:

Step 1: Find your legislators.

You have Senators and Representatives in Tallahassee, and we need to find who they are. You’ll need two links, this link will provide your Senator, and this link will be for your Representative. NOTE: You want to write down their names and the district they are in. This will be important later.

Step 2: Email them.

The Senate site makes this easy, as there is an “Email This Senator” button directly below their picture. The Representative site is a bit more difficult, as you have to look at their details, then find the “Contact Us” button under their picture. Regardless, you’ll be asked to put in some basic info and then the blank space for the email.

The sample email is below, but I have a few notes for you:

  1. The email is brief. No one wants to read War and Peace (even this post is getting to be a bit long), and that goes for legislators as well. Keep it simple.
  2. Add your own info. Right before the last paragraph is a great place to add your own personal info if you wish. How has Florida Craft Beer had an impact on you? Are you an owner that wants to contribute to your community? Are you an enthusiast that has seen positive change? Make it personal.
  3. Keep it respectful. It doesn’t matter how, well, passionate you are about this, no one is going to read a tirade. Your representatives may be in your political party or they may be in the opposing one, but they are your voice in Tallahassee, and you want them to hear you, not dismiss you. This is a partnership, not an attack.
  4. If you can, let them know the breweries in their district. Who are the businesses directly affected by these economic policies?

Step 3: The Email.

Copy and paste below, making the necessary changes as possible:

Dear Senator/Representative (NAME HERE),

My name is (YOUR NAME). As a registered and active voter, I wanted to write you to encourage action in changing current regulations that are forcing the temporary closure of craft breweries here in the State of Florida. As you are no doubt aware, this is a significant portion of the Florida economy that is currently hurting and may not be able to bounce back if current closures are continued.

In 2018, there were 329 craft breweries in the state bringing in over $3.6 million dollars of revenue. This is over and above their positive impact on local tourism, partnerships with local agrculture, and leadership in community revitalization efforts.

At this time, craft breweries without an on-site food prepping kitchen are considered the same as bars and, as such, are closed to all on-premise consumption. This affects the majority of those 300+ breweries currently operating, and many are close to closing permanently.

Only a few weeks ago, these breweries were allowed to open at a limited capacity when opening in partnership with a restaurant or local food truck. I am asking you and your colleagues to help re-implement this change, along with changes that will positively affect this growing segment of the craft beer industry (such as franchise reform and self-distribution, benefits that currently exist in 2/3rds of other U.S. states).

I would like to be a part of the conversation and to hear your plans on how to protect this vital part of Florida’s economy. You may contact me at the information below.

Sincerely,

(YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFO)

Step 4: The Upcoming Election

YOU’RE NOT DONE! Remember that we are in an election year, and many of these seats are up for grabs. I didn’t realize that both my local Senator and Representative will be replaced this year, as neither incumbent is running again. What you need to do is to find who is running in local primaries, and reach out to them to see what they say about the issues. The best place to do this is Ballotpedia.

Remember how you write down the Senate District and House District? Here’s where you need it. Just write “Florida House District XX” or “Florida Senate District XX” in the search bar, and follow the links to find the full details about everything happening in your districts, including who won the primaries (if applicable).

You’ll need to do a bit more leg work here, as each candidate is going to have their own personal website with contact info.

Step 5: The Candidate Email

Here’s the sample email, slightly rewritten. As above, add your personal information:

Dear Senator/Representative (NAME HERE),

My name is (YOUR NAME). As a registered and active voter, I wanted to write you to understand your views in changing current regulations that are forcing the temporary closure of craft breweries here in the State of Florida. As you are no doubt aware, this is a significant portion of the Florida economy that is currently hurting and may not be able to bounce back if current closures are continued.

In 2018, there were 329 craft breweries in the state bringing in over $3.6 million dollars of revenue. This is over and above their positive impact on local tourism, partnerships with local agrculture, and leadership in community revitalization efforts.

At this time, craft breweries without an on-site food prepping kitchen are considered the same as bars and, as such, are closed to all on-premise consumption. This affects the majority of those 300+ breweries currently operating, and many are close to closing permanently.

Only a few weeks ago, these breweries were allowed to open at a limited capacity when opening in partnership with a restaurant or local food truck. I am wanting to learn more about your ideas in how to protect this segment of Florida’s economy including re-implement this change, franchise reform, and self-distribution (benefits that currently exist in 2/3rds of other U.S. states). You may contact me at the information below.

Sincerely,

(YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFO)

Step 6: Register to Vote

Why haven’t you?

Step 7: Support Local Craft Beer

Head to your local craft brewery and get some great pre-packaged beers to go.

Thank you for reaching. Don’t hesitate to share this article with family, friends, and anyone else that you think may need it.

Drink Florida Craft!

Dave
@floridabeerblog
floridabeerblog@gmail.com

Florida Beer Blog is a part of Florida Beer Media. Find us at FloridaBeerMedia.com.

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