Legislation (SB 242) was filed for a third year – this time by Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican – to permit beer advertisements in major theme parks.

The idea has stoked controversy, with critics saying it would allow theme parks to “extort” ad dollars from beer companies.

If passed, beer makers also could sponsor concerts, other events or attractions at parks. It previously was supported by SeaWorld and Universal Orlando, though Big Beer companies are heavily against the measure.

Lobbyists for MillerCoors; the Beer Industry of Florida, the association of Florida’s MillerCoors distributors; and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents Anheuser-Busch distributors; all opposed prior versions of the bill.

Those companies say the legislation will allow theme parks to put them “over a barrel” when it comes to event sponsorships, while craft beer interests have complained it would ultimately favor Big Beer manufacturers who can afford to shell out to put up the biggest and most ads.

Among other things, Hutson’s measure also prohibits bars from displaying in their windows “more than one neon, electric, or similar sign … advertising the product of any one brand of alcoholic beverage.”

Hutson also sponsored the legislation in the past two Legislative Sessions, saying that if the bill was passed Florida would be the fifth state to allow beer ads in theme parks.

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