Battle grows for repeal of Florida alcohol/grocery separation laws

alcohol wall of separation

Floridians for Fair Business Practices (FFBP) announced today the addition of several new coalition members joining the fight to take down the state’s Prohibition-era alcohol/grocery separation laws.

New members include the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, nearly 2,000 Floridians so far have signed a petition supporting state legislation to allow groceries and spirits to be sold in the same location.

The coalition supports HB 499/SB 468, which seeks to repeal what FFBP calls an “archaic law” so retailers can sell alcohol and spirits in the same aisle as beer, wine and other grocery items. The law has been on the books since 1935.

“When there are laws that have outlived their purpose and relevance, it’s time to take them off the books,” Florida Restaurant and Lodging president/CEO Carol Dover said. “This Prohibition-era law needs to be repealed so large and small retailers may compete on the same level playing field.”

“This is a matter of government over regulation. Small business needs to have the same advantages as large business for competition purposes,” said Windell Paige, president of the Tallahassee-based Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce.

Winter Haven Republican Rep. John Wood and Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, filed HB 499 and SB 468, respectively, as repealer bills.

Florida is one of 20 states with a separation law: Other states have the ability to co-mingle their alcohol products to offer customer convenience and less regulation.

Wood said repealing alcohol separation issue supports free markets, offers fewer regulations and creates a level playing field among independent retailers.

“If passed,” Wood said, “this law would allow establishments who want to sell spirits in the same aisle as beer and wine, where even greater security measures are in place, to do so without being forced to comply with some antiquated law.”

Grimsley pointed out that the issue is a barrier to consumers’ shopping choices in the marketplace.

“In this case, Florida shoppers and shopkeepers should be able to decide what’s on the grocery shelf, not government,” she said.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected]


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