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Florida editorial roundup

April 29, 2014

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

April 29

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., on the beer growler bill:

State Sen. Kelli Stargel’s latest attempt to broker a compromise in Florida’s ongoing beer wars somewhat leavens a bitter bill, but nevertheless is flat.

The Lakeland Republican this week filed an amendment to SB 1714 that purports to accommodate the state’s microbreweries by allowing them to sell their products in all sizes of sealed to-go containers, commonly called “growlers.” However, the bill is limited in scope, applying only to those businesses that brew fewer than 2,000 kegs of beer (the equivalent of 1,000 barrels). The amendment also allows larger craft brewers to sell 20 percent of their beer in bottles or cans from their breweries.

Joey Redner, founder and CEO of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, recently told MSNBC that microbreweries don’t become profitable until they exceed 5,000 barrels. Capping the growler allowance so low severely restricts many businesses’ ability to grow.

That’s exactly what large distributors of traditional, mass-market beers are seeking to do, so as to blunt competition from the upstart craft beers. They want microbreweries to jump through regulatory hoops that will increase the price of doing business, namely by forcing them to participate in the state’s three-tiered system of alcohol regulation.

That consists of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Businesses that brew and sell their beers on their premises would have to buy at least a portion of that product back from middlemen — at a markup — even if the beverages never leave the site.

Joshua Aubuchon, who represents the Florida Brewers Guild, said ... that SB 1714 still “creates a layer of bureaucracy where one currently does not exist” ...

Craft beer is a growth industry in Florida, particularly in Volusia County, where several microbreweries have opened in the last year, with more on the way. That should be seen as a healthy development for the state and local economies, not cause for alarm and the enforcement of protectionist policies.




April 27

The News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., on an urgent plea for RayAnn:

Governor Scott, on behalf of the people of West Florida, this is a plea for our child.

Do you know her? You need to. Look at her face — this is RayAnn Moseley. She is 11 years old. She lives in Gulf Breeze with two parents who love her very much. And because they love her, they fight for her.

They’ve been fighting for her since the day they met her in Sacred Heart hospital. RayAnn was 2 years old, her biological parents absent. Holley and Peyton Moseley, both healthcare professionals, fell in love with her, adopted her, took up the fight for her.

And they’ve been fighting for a simple law that can change RayAnn’s life. Charlotte’s Web — you know how the newsline goes: A non-euphoric derivative of a specific strain of marijuana that can reduce potentially fatal seizures in children with intractable epilepsy. It’s not a drug. It’s not pot. There is no high, no street-value, no side effects — unlike so many of the other poisons legally prescribed to RayAnn. And it helps so much more.

Floridians overwhelmingly support this answer to RayAnn’s suffering. And the law will pass both Republican controlled chambers of the Legislature — the Senate as early as Tuesday.

Yet it lacks your voice and your support at a time when RayAnn needs you.

So this is our plea — whatever your struggle with this, look at RayAnn’s face, take these words and be absolved of all doubt: This is the right thing to do. Politically. And morally ...

In a very real way Governor, your spokesmanship can mean life over death for RayAnn. Imagine four years from now, as your second term in office is sliding to its end, this child could still be alive, no longer wracked with these unconquerable seizures, instead shuffling in the sands along the Gulf of Mexico, happily, painlessly — all because of your bold advocacy at this moment.

Look at her face, Governor. Yes, RayAnn is the daughter of Peyton and Holley Moseley. But as a resident of Gulf Breeze, she is our child. And as a resident of Florida, she is yours. We are all obligated to fight for her.

Like we said, this is a plea for our child.




April 26

Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on U.S.-Venezuela ties:

Florida’s two U.S. senators are rightly united in calling for the United States to impose sanctions against Venezuela for the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson recently held a joint news conference to bring renewed attention to the actions of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and to urge Congress and the White House to act.

Rubio said he wants to bring opposition leaders to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Maduro’s repressive government, which has beaten and jailed protesters who want the government to change its disastrous economic policies. The two senators want the Obama administration to freeze bank accounts and withhold visas from some members of Maduro’s government.

Rubio is suggesting Venezuelans forced to flee be granted special temporary U.S. visas. And the senators are backing legislation that would divert $15 million to defend human rights in Venezuela.

Obama should listen to Florida’s senators and announce economic sanctions that will punish the government along with its supporters who depend on U.S. trade agreements.

As he often has when confronted with foreign policy challenges, Obama has taken a cautious approach to Venezuela, despite the blatant human rights violations ...

We understand there is a divided opposition movement in Venezuela that presents a problem for the United States, and that the Obama administration is preoccupied with events in Ukraine and the Middle East ... But Rubio and Nelson aren’t calling for extreme measures. The United States is Venezuela’s most important trading partner, and there are opportunities to impose sanctions that will have an impact on Venezuela’s leaders without backing the United States into a corner.

It’s time for the Obama administration to do more than just talk.



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