Senators put aside "Free the Hops" bill
The Alabama Senate started smoothly on Tuesday, but Sen. Hank Erwin threatened to shut the chamber down the rest of the day over a "Free the Hops" bill that he said would allow a higher alcohol content in beer.
Erwin, R-Montevallo, is a fierce opponent of alcohol and gambling. He has announced he is running for lieutenant governor in 2010.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro. He said Erwin has stood by as bills allowing Sunday sales passed.
"Let's free the hops," Singleton shouted.
He said the bill, which would allow a higher alcohol content for more expensive gourmet beer, is harmless.
The Senate reached an agreement to bring up the House version of the bill and add an amendment that would not allow the higher content beer to be sold in convenience stores. Senators then put the bill aside temporarily.
Erwin then continued to try to kill a bill sponsored by fellow Republican Steve French that would allow a higher alcohol content in table wine.
"We are going too far. We are going beyond common sense," he said.
Erwin said some people drink to get "smashed" and "blow your brains out with alcohol."
He made the comments the same day that at least one his Republican colleagues, Sen. Larry Dixon, talked about drinking at the microphone.
Erwin said he has never had a sip of alcohol.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen