North Carolina, once a craft beer wasteland, has become one of the country's most exciting states for good brews. Dozens of innovative breweries have popped up from the coast to Asheville, complementing a solid roster of fine brewers.
The growth began in 2005, when N.C. legislators passed a law allowing for higher content alcohol in beer sold here. Now, lawmakers have passed a smaller but important bill that allows breweries, regardless of size, to offer tastings and sell beer on site - even beers produced outside the state.
The measure would help North Carolina's craft brewing industry flourish even more, not only by promoting interest in craft beer, but also by giving brewers another revenue stream. The change also could prompt larger west coast brewers to open east coast operations and bring jobs here.
Gov. Bev Perdue should sign the bill pronto, and lawmakers should consider another bill - one that would allow retailers to sell and refill 64 oz. bottles of beer, called "growlers." Retailers in other states, including South Carolina, have opened successful growler stands that offer customers hard-to-find craft beers.
Growlers supporters say the bottles are greener and safer - enthusiastic craft beer drinkers may be less tempted to try that extra beer at a restaurant if they have the option to take some home in a refillable bottle. That would be good for business in an industry that's become very good for North Carolina.
Video gambling next up?
We don't doubt that the gambling deal Gov. Bev Perdue struck this week with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will create jobs and generate revenue for the state. We just worry that North Carolina is headed down a very slippery path, one where the temptation of easy new tax money dramatically lowers the state's quality of life.
Perdue seems to have few qualms about poor North Carolinians gambling away their limited cash pursuing hopeless dreams. As lieutenant governor, she was the tie-breaking vote that created the lottery. This week, she signed a compact allowing Las Vegas-style card games at Harrah's Cherokee casino. Next up: New life for the video sweepstakes industry?
The Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization is using the Cherokee deal to try to ignite support for legalizing their operations, specifically touting the tax revenue it would bring the state. N.C. legislators have tried three times to eliminate video gambling. His ties to video poker were part of what brought former House Speaker Jim Black down.
We understand Perdue's and the legislature's thirst for tax revenue. But on gambling, North Carolina is approaching the point where the cost to the state's quality of life is not worth the payoff.
Yeah, this will help voters focus on vital issues
Donald Trump will moderate a Republican presidential debate in Iowa on Dec. 27. In other news, Bill Belk has been appointed to the N.C. Supreme Court, Jerry Reese will become general manager of the Charlotte Knights and Jim Bakker will be pope.