Alcohol ‘to go’ bill stays in lane

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Posted March 12, 2021 | News Service of Florida

The bill would allow restaurants to sell take-home drinks with meals

An alcohol “to go” bill motored through a second Senate committee this week without opposition. 

The Commerce and Tourism Committee backed the proposal (SB 148), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, which would allow restaurants to include alcoholic drinks or bottles as part of take-home meals. Bradley’s district covers part of Marion County.

The practice was part of an executive order last year by Gov. Ron DeSantis to help restaurants that were forced to scale back operations in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bill would make that practice permanent. It would cap individual alcohol container sizes at 32 ounces and require motorists to place the drinks in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or in areas behind the last upright seats in vehicles. 

“Restaurants have really adapted to serve the needs of their customers,” Bradley said. “The current executive order helped restaurants accomplish this goal while also providing a convenience to their customers. My guiding principles as I approach this bill, is how can we have our takeout options match and mirror what the restaurant is able to offer in person?” 

The proposal, backed by influential business lobbying groups, also unanimously was approved last month by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and next will go to the Rules Committee. A House version (HB 329) was unanimously backed last month by the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee and awaits an appearance before the Commerce Committee.

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