The Governor’s Office now has received nearly 500 emails asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a contentious bill that allows retailers to sell distilled spirits in the same store as other goods.
A tally shows 491 emails urging a veto and none in support of the measure (SB 106), according to Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis.
The bill passed both chambers on close margins: 21-17 in the Senate and a razor thin 58-57 in the House. Also, five House members who missed the vote voted ‘no’ after the roll call.
The clock has not started running for Scott to consider the bill, however, because the Legislature still hasn’t delivered it.
During the Legislative Session, the constitution gives the governor “seven consecutive days” to act, or 15 days after the session ends once he has a bill.
The liquor wall bill is now one of 80 bills listed as passed but “not received” in the Governor’s Office as of Wednesday morning. His office has said Scott will “review” the legislation when received.
Lewis said Scott’s office also received five printed letters in support of the measure from:
— The Distilled Spirits Council, “the national trade association representing America’s leading distillers and nearly 70 percent of all distilled spirits brands sold in this country.”
— Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
— Pernod Ricard USA, makers of Absolut vodka, Glenlivet single malt scotch whisky, Jameson Irish whiskey, Kahlúa coffee liqueur, Beefeater gin and others.
— Carol Dover, president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
The Wilton Manors City Commission also sent a copy of a resolution opposing the bill. (Those are below.)
The “whiskey and Wheaties” bill, filed every year since 2014, removes the 82-year-old ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other items enacted in Florida after Prohibition. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles.
Among other things, the bill requires miniature bottles to be sold behind a counter and allows for a 5-year phase-in. It further calls for employees over 18 to check customers’ ID and approve sales of spirits by cashiers under 18.
Big-box chains such as Wal-Mart and Target have pushed for the bill, while independent owner-operators—playing on Scott’s reputation as a job creator—say the legislation will kill jobs and even put some small businesses out of business.