Oenophiles rejoice: Chip LaMarca again seeking to repeal bottle size limits

wine loft
Previous attempts have sailed through House, but died in the Senate.

Rep. Chip LaMarca once again wants bigger bottles of wine — for retailers to sell, that is.

The bill (HB 6031) the Lighthouse Republican filed Tuesday is identical to the one he filed last Session and the Session before. Rep. Daniel Perez has also filed similar legislation previously. It seeks to repeal state law banning wine sales in containers larger than one gallon.

The measure has sailed through the House of Representatives only to die in the Senate three years in a row. But LaMarca is undeterred.

“It’s an economic freedom issue,” LaMarca said, pointing out that there are winemakers who would like to sell their jumbo products in Florida. “It’s part of the wine market in every other state, but for some reason, Florida has this archaic law.”

The standard size of a wine bottle is 750 milliliters, which is about five servings. One gallon would be 3,785 milliliters, with about 25 servings. A wine bottle called the Nebuchadnezzar is equivalent to 20 standard wine bottles and the Solomon is equivalent to 24 standard wine bottles.

This time, LaMarca said he has his arguments ready to make this more than a perennial piece of legislation. People want these wine bottles for big events such as weddings and other momentous celebrations, he said. It would cut down on the waste of having multiple containers when one container would do, so it’s environmentally conscious legislation.

And it would be meaningful criminal justice reform. The criminal penalty for selling oversized wine containers, currently a second-degree misdemeanor, comes with fines and even potential jail time.

“There’s no sane person who can really justify (the penalty) … for buying a bottle of wine,” LaMarca said. “It’s something I think we have to take off the books.”

He said the time is ripe.

“I think this is the year we can actually get the facts out about it in the Senate,” he said.

The impact of this legislation on small businesses was a matter of some debate even among legislative staffers in the 2021 Legislative Session.

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 supposed.

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.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]



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