Pro-growth business group Floridians for Fair Business Practices said members of the House Regulatory Affairs Committee were regrettably in error when they shot down state Rep. Greg Steube’s HB 107, the so-called “whiskey and Wheaties” bill that would allow big retailers and grocers to sell liquor in the same store as regular groceries in a cordoned-off place specially designated for that purpose.
“On behalf of Floridians for Fair Business Practices coalition, we are disappointed that the House committee did not side in favor of fair competition,” said FFBP spokesperson Christina Johnson in a news release Tuesday. “Florida consumers are still hindered by artificial barriers, while the marketplace is being treated like the 1930s. Florida deserves to join the majority of America in conducting retail as the 21st century demands.”
Johnson’s testimony against the bill combined with that of criticisms from several industry sectors and lawmakers from both parties came close to advancing the bill in its final committee stop before the full House floor. She emphasized that the bill’s purported public health and minor-access issues are overblown, a sentiment echoed by Steube in his closing statement.
“In 30 states, where spirits are sold alongside beer and wine, there is no increase in minor access, no increase in binge drinking, and no reports of independent liquor stores going out of business,” concluded Johnson in her statement. “We have presented the facts that support a decrease in binge drinking, and statics proving that independent stores are thriving in states where there is no separation of spirits. We will continue to educate elected officials that this is a pro-business issue.”
The failure of HB 107 likely represents the end of the proponents’ efforts this session.