Alabama Becomes the 50th State to Legalize Homebrewing

Nathan Mattise has an excellently written article about Alabama’s hombrew bill (HB9) passing the legislature in today’s edition of Esquire: I especially enjoy his taunting of ignorant statements by the opposition.

Homebrewing is a perfectly reasonable (and Ron Swanson-approved) hobby in 49 states. The fiftieth? “I’m glad to say we’re the last state,” Alabama State Representative Richard Baughn declared during a House meeting on April 2. Here, it’s currently a felony to homebrew.

But the hops-heads won’t be criminals much longer. HB9 — Alabama’s latest iteration of a homebrewing legalization bill — passed through the State House that night. Two hours of debate ended in a 58-33 vote (64 percent approval). And yesterday, long after the hour you might expect these politicians to rush home to catch Rectify, HB9 officially went further than any homebrewing bill has gone before. The Alabama Senate surprisingly brought it to the floor out of order and passed the bill without much debate, 18-7. Homebrewing may still be short of legal, but now only Governor Robert Bentley’s pen stands in the way. And State Senator Bill Holtzclaw, a known HB9 proponent within that body, told that Bentley is “fine” with the legislation.

Alabama, for all intents and purposes, has been on an island. In 2009, Utah made 47. In 2010, Oklahoma claimed 48, and this March, Mississippi took 49 (though their bill takes 90 days to go into effect). On the verge of history, it remains unclear what the hell took 50 so long. Alabama’s pushback against homebrewing can’t be blamed on the state’s dry counties; HB9 was sponsored by a politician with some jurisdiction in such an area and a majority of reps in that position voted yes. As the debate from that first vote shows, opponents were simply full of Nick Saban-levels of bullshit. Take Representative Allen Farley’s tug to the heartstrings, for example:

As a Christian father of three daughters and 11 grandchildren, I’ve been blessed, you’ve been blessed, this a personal thing with me…. Upstairs right now we’re trying to give everybody a gun and downstairs we’re trying to give everybody the opportunity to brew alcohol. If we ever get that group together, we have more trouble than we can handle.
That got a little pushback, so Farley went on, “If you abused either one of them, yes, but that seems to be the tendency of the world we live in and we know that.”

Farley proposed one of two failed amendments to HB9. After kinda-sorta indirectly comparing homebrewing to firearms, he definitely thought the two entities deserved equal regulation. His amendment stated that any person who wishes to produce alcohol under HB9 must register with the sheriff’s department. That way, “Mr. So-and-so, even though he’s working at NASA and has all these degrees, if you have a question about what he’s doing, call the sheriff’s office.” (The NASA thing is apparently legitimate. Many employees actually live in Alabama even if some of their local politicians seem to be from space.)

The other formal complaint that swelled into a failed amendment was a concern about how homebrewing could impact children. Representative Mike Jones politely proposed it on behalf of his friend Representative Kurt Wallace, who was ill. Unfortunately, others were happy to get all “ROLL TIDE!” with this sentiment.

“I know people who have brewed alcohol before,” said Representative Arthur Payne. “And the jobs of the kids in the family was, after it’s brewed, they were supposed to put it in containers.”

Heaven forbid someone’s kid clamp a cap on a bottle. Some of the quotes are quite ridiculous, ignorant, and funny. But thankfully, even some of the critics ended up voting in support of the bill. Read the whole thing at Cheers Alabama, but don’t forget to contact the Governor and politely ask him to finalize this repeal on prohibition with his signature. There is a link for that contact info below.

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