The American Homebrewers Association takes the right to homebrew very seriously. Helping homebrewers organize in states that have not yet legalized homebrewing and protecting the rights of those in states where it is legal, is among the most important functions of the organization. See the Government Affairs section of the AHA website for information on homebrew legalization.
Over the past couple of years, I had the honor of working with the dedicated homebrewers of Utah in an attempt to legalize homebrewing in that state. In 2009, after mobilizing homebrewers to repeatedly contact their state legislators and attend committee hearings in Salt Lake City, we were successful.
There are still three states in which it is not legal to brew beer at home: Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma. All three have active campaigns to legalize homebrewing in 2010.
The AHA has been working with homebrewers in Alabama on efforts to change that state’s laws on homebrewing for the last few years. This year shows more promise to actually get a bill passed than ever before. The Alabama homebrewers have managed to get Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Senator Larry Dixon, filed at the beginning of the legislative session, giving it a much greater chance for success this year.
In Mississippi, we are working with Raise Your Pints (RYP) and representatives from MIssissippi homebrew clubs on homebrew legalization. There are now homebrew bills filed in both the Mississippi House and Senate, HB 732 and SB 2717 respectively. RYP is also working on HB 731 and SB 2243 to increase the allowable alcohol in beer sold in Mississippi, which would greatly expand the number of craft beers available in the state.
AHA member Gary Shellman is spearheading the movement to get homebrewing legalized in Oklahoma. Gary managed to convince Representative Colby Schwartz to sponsor a bill, HB 2348 (use the Oklahoma Bill Tracking to search for bill), to legalize homebrewing in 2010 (in Oklahoma it is already legal to make homemade wine and cider).
I am truly inspired by the efforts of homebrewers working to legalize the hobby in their states. It is a lot of hard work and can be very tedious and frustrating at times, but tremendously rewarding when efforts succeed.
We will send updates to the AHA members in Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma as things develop and when their action is needed to contact their legislators. With a lot of effort and hopefully some luck, we may be celebrating homebrewing finally being legal in all 50 states before the end of 2010.
Here’s to our legislative success in 2010!