- Your Town
To the editor,
The first brewery in Beaverhead County since Prohibition will be opening soon. A little over a year ago, the possibility of this venture happening was in serious doubt because of a piece of legislation backed by one of the strongest lobbying groups in Montana. This legislation essentially would have shut down the majority of small craft breweries in Montana. Because of the nature of this legislative proposal, all our plans for a building and brewing equipment were put on hold.
Then one weekend during the middle of the legislative session, I received a phone call from Representative Jeff Welborn asking for a visit with Brett Maki and me to discuss this legislative proposal, which had been assigned to a committee which included Representative Welborn. After sitting down with Brett for two hours and learning more about the process of brewing, the economics of the business, the costs, the overhead and the effect of this new regulation, Jeff felt he had enough information to make a positive difference for brewers in general, but specifically the new start-ups. After that meeting, he left for Helena with one objective, namely, to kill the bill in committee, despite resistance from the committee chair and the lobbyist.
In his quiet but purposeful manner he got the job done. He convinced committee members of both parties their job should be to support sectors of the economy that are growing rather than to regulate them out of business. He understands that small businesses are the engines of our economy.
Since getting the green light to start renovation and construction of Beaverhead Brewing Co., over forty local businesses and individuals in our area have been involved in this project. Because of Jeff’s pro-active approach to legislation affecting his own constituents, there have been benefits spinning off elsewhere in our state. I know of at least four other craft breweries outside of Beaverhead County that will be opening this year in Montana.
Certainly one bill or one vote doesn’t completely define a legislator. But the manner in which he or she will discuss proposed legislation with their constituents and consider their local concerns – placing them above those of powerful lobbyists or party bosses – defines legislators as true representatives of their district. For this reason I am supporting Jeff Welborn for re-election.
Ronald V. Loge