Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday vetoed a very controversial bill in Florida that supporters said would remove an archaic law that originated back in the time of prohibition.
The so called “liquor wall” law, which requires liquor to be sold in separate facilities away from most retail goods and groceries, will live on because of Governor Rick Scott’s veto. This is certainly looked upon as a big win to independent liquor-store owners, such as ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Publix Super Markets, which fought against the repeal of the existing liquor law.
Walmart, Target and Costgo were in favor of the bill and argued that a repeal of the existing law would encourage free markets and customer convenience.
“We have made tremendous progress in the last four years, and there is a clear momentum in Florida for this common-sense approach to liquor sales,” said Michael Williams, a spokesman for the group Floridians for Fair Business Practices, which supported the repeal. “While Governor Scott ultimately chose to veto Senate Bill 106, we look forward to working with state leaders in the future to finally put an end to this outdated, Prohibition-era law.”
Governor Scott stated numerous times prior to his veto that the impact on small businesses was of greater concern that his desire to cut more regulations.
“I carefully reviewed this bill and I have met with stakeholders on both sides,” Scott said. “I listened closely to what they had to say and I understand that both positions have merit. Nevertheless, I have heard concerns as to how this bill could affect many small businesses across Florida. I was a small business owner and many locally owned businesses have told me how this bill will impact their families and their ability to create jobs.”
Those who fought against the bill argued that the repeal would damage small liquor stores and would make it easier for minors to obtain liquor and would increase liquor purchases and consumption.
The bill narrowly passed the Senate in a 21-17 vote and the House by a 58-57 margin.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association was part of the coalition pushing to tear down the wall. It’s easy to assume that had the bill not been vetoed, there would have been a huge increase of locations where liquor was for sale, specifically in tourist locations, but it’s safe to say it will be quite a while before this bill comes back around.