Another Florida House Bill Delivers Potential New Revenues
Last post we mentioned that numerous bills had been presented this legislative session, with folks in Tallahassee looking to help state bars and restaurants make up for pandemic-related losses by offering to-go sales of alcohol.
While the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has temporarily relaxed regulations that prevented establishments from selling to-go containers of frozen cocktails and mixed drinks, the rules banning the practice return once the state of emergency is no longer in effect.
On January 19, Representative Josie Tomkow filed HB 329. This bill is a companion to the one filed by Senator Jeff Brandes this past November (SB 134). The bill allows restaurants to permanently sell wine- and liquor-based drinks and malt beverages, along with their takeout and delivery food order. Both bills, if passed, will take effect July 1, 2021.
Progress is Happening
Sen. Brandes' bill has been referred to three state Senate committees, while Rep. Tomkow's bill has been directed to two House committees. The bills remove current language addressing full meals so that diners could take home an opened bottle of wine that they did not completely consume on-site. Additionally, it permits consumers to buy a sealed container of wine with their food purchase.
Neither bill applies to bars or establishments that do not meet the threshold of 51% of sales coming from food and nonalcoholic drinks. Nor do the bills detail how restaurants must seal the to-go containers.
With the 2021 legislative session opening March 2, we imagine these companion bills – as well as others also proposed – will enjoy widespread support. Given that Governor DeSantis has also expressed support for changing pre-COVID 19 regulations, we predict some form of cocktails to-go legislation will be celebrated by session's end.
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