Three Legislative Sessions later, the Senate finally passed a bill to allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods.
Senators approved the “whiskey and Wheaties” legislation (SB 106) on a 21-17 vote after a debate in which one senator said it would “kill … kids.”
Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican who first filed a one-line repealer in 2014, spoke in favor of what has now become a 5-page bill. Among other things, it requires miniatures to be sold behind a counter and allows for a 5-year phase-in.
Today, the separation of spirits from retail has “no nexus to the reality of everyday life,” said
A Prohibition-era state law requires businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida.
Big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target want the repeal, saying the added convenience is “pro-consumer,” and independently-owned liquor store operators say they will suffer. Publix also has opposed the move, saying it’s invested in the separate liquor store model.
Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami-Dade Republican, asked colleagues, “Why are we doing this?” He called it “thebill,” and said it would give an “unfair advantage” against small businesses.
The rhetoric eventually gave rise to emotion: Sen. Daphne Campbell attacked the bill, saying it wasn’t even about “politics, it’s poli-tricks.”
The Miami-Dade Democrat said the effect of the legislation would be to “kill your own kids … How can we do this?” Critics of the bill have feared it will increase teens’ access to alcohol.
Anitere Flores, the Miami-Dade Republican carrying this year’s bill, was taken aback.
People watching the debate, she said, must be asking “what in the world does this bill do? Does it kill children. No.” She earlier pointed out it’s not a mandate on any business.
The repeal’s fate in the House is unclear: That chamber’s version, recently amended to be more similar to the Senate’s, has been limping through its committees on one- and two-vote margins.