The Florida House moved one step closer to passing legislation that would change wine storage as Floridians know it.
Rep. Chip LaMarca‘s HB 6073 proposes repeal of a state ban on wine sales in containers larger than a gallon. The penalty for that crime, currently a second-degree misdemeanor, comes with fines and even potential jail time.
The LaMarca bill would end that punitive possibility.
Discussion of the bill was brief Wednesday as part of the Special Order calendar, setting it up for a floor vote as soon as Thursday.
The Lighthouse Point Republican quipped that “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” adding that it’s “not good public policy to criminalize” larger bottles of wine.
He added that there was “no rational opposition to this bill except for one winery that doesn’t want to play in the free market.” LaMarca did not identify that winery, and no one asked him to.
The impact of this legislation on small business is a matter of some debate even among legislative staffers.
One committee analysis suggested it “may have a positive fiscal impact on businesses that sell wine.” It will not impact costs for local or state governments, the analysis supposes.
Distributors and manufacturers face no quantity cap when selling wine to each other, and this bill would give the consumer parity with those parties with presumably greater purchasing power.
There is currently no Senate companion legislation. A comparable bill from Sen. Jeff Brandes (SB 142) is stalled.
Presenting the legislation in committees, the legislator cited other benefits, including aesthetic matters of note to the wine connoisseur.
“Large format bottles tend to age more gracefully as they have less oxygen exposure,” he said in the House Commerce Committee. “Of course, these colossal trophy bottles also deliver the granger of a wow factor.”
A bygone ad for a wine company made the claim “we will serve no wine before its time.” And like wine itself, this bill has been allowed to mature just a bit. LaMarca carried it last year as well.