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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A battle over beer glasses is under way in the Florida Legislature.

On Tuesday, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee unanimously approved a bill, sponsored by Miami Sen. Frank Artiles, that would allow beer distributors to give away free glassware to bars, restaurants, and other establishments that sell beer.

Artiles said allowing the distributors to give away the glassware, which could range from pint glasses to chalices, would “enhance the experience” for beer drinkers while also saving money for the business owners who run bars.

But the legislation was opposed by MillerCoors, a major brewing company, with lobbyist Jon Costello saying allowing the largest brewing companies with “deep pockets” to give away glassware could influence what types of beers are being offered at the establishments.

The bill limits the free glassware to five cases of 24 glasses “per brand, per year.” But that could add up for a company like Anheuser-Busch, which has approximately 60 brands, meaning potentially it could represent a giveaway of 7,200 glasses annually for each bar.

Joshua Aubuchon, a lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild, said the small craft breweries that his organization represents cannot compete with that cost. Even if a brewer offered five cases to each bar, at a cost of $1 per glass, it could add up to $42,000, assuming the brewery had 350 customers, he said.

“We simply can’t afford it,” he said.

As the bill next moves to the Commerce and Tourism Committee, Artiles said he would work with the opponents, trying to find a common ground. A similar bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Goodson, has not been heard in the House.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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