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Is there still hope for the microbreweries?

I said previously that I thought the prospects for HB2094, the bill to allow microbreweries to sell some of their product on site, were dim. I don’t want to give any false hope, but it’s possible I was too pessimistic.

With just a month remaining before lawmakers adjourn, the bill remains bottled up in the same House committee where a similar measure died in 2007. The chairman of that committee on Thursday gave the bill a “50-50” chance of making it out in time to get scheduled for a vote by the end of the session.

“I will look at it and see what the will of the committee is,” said state Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, who chairs the nine-member Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee. He explained that if four other members agree to support the bill, he would vote to move it along as well.

“I would not hold it in committee,” Kuempel said.

However, no vote on the bill was scheduled by late Thursday, and time is running short. The bill would have to be out and cleared by the Calendars Committee by May 14 if it is to have any chance before the session ends June 1.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who sponsored the legislation in 2007 and again this year, said she has the necessary four votes and late in the day got a commitment from Kuempel. She said he was scheduling the vote.

She said the bill appears to have encountered stiff opposition “behind the scenes.”

Earlier Thursday, Licensing committee member Charles Geren, R-Fort Worth, recalled there was opposition when the bill was introduced for discussion, but he said he did not remember where it came from. He said he would “probably vote for” Farrar’s bill but referred questions about its status to Kuempel.

If HB2094 can get passed out of committee, then it has a chance, even this late in the session. It’ll still be a close call in the Senate, but at least their calendar is not quite as jammed. So take a moment and contact a committee member about HB2094. Beer, TX has more.

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