Governor Vetoes Brewpub Bill

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has vetoed a bill that would have allowed brewpubs to make stronger beer.

The bill also would have allowed brewpubs to provide free beers to room guests and food and drink patrons exclusively on premises.

Casinos, especially on the Gulf Coast, had sought approval as had some privately owned brewpubs.

Musgrove, in his veto message late Thursday to the House where the bill originated, said he opposed increasing the allowable alcohol content for beer produced at the brewpubs from 4 percent by weight to 5 percent.

"Throughout my career I have consistently opposed the increase of alcohol content in all malt beverages, including those beers and malt liquors sold throughout the state in grocery and convenience stores,'' the governor said.

Rep. Jim Simpson, R-Pass Christian, said during debate in the House that brewpubs were at a disadvantage when supermarkets, restaurants and other places where beer is sold can serve the higher alcohol content beer.

Musgrove reminded lawmakers that in 1998 while lieutenant governor he broke a tie vote in the Senate and killed a bill that would have increased the alcohol content in beer and light wine.

Despite Musgrove's opposition, the 1998 Legislature did pass and Gov. Kirk Fordice signed into law a bill that increased the alcohol content of beer. Most beer has less than 4 percent alcohol by weight, which equates to 5 percent by volume. But some specialty beers, including brews made at microbreweries, have more alcohol.

Musgrove praised lawmakers for a new law that reduced the blood alcohol level for driving legally drunk in Mississippi from .10 percent to .08 percent. He said signing the brewpub bill would be counterproductive to efforts to reduce drinking and driving and alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.