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Gwen Margolis’ ‘palcohol’ ban progresses in Senate

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A bill to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol — known in industry lingo as ‘palcohol’ — before it has even arrived at Florida retailers passed another test in the Senate on Thursday. The ban was unanimously approved by the Rules Committee.

State Sen. Gwen Margolis’ SB 998 now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Brandon state Sen. Tom Lee spoke for a lot of casual observers as well as his panel-mates when he asked Margolis — like Lee, a former Senate president — whether there was a pressing reason she “has chosen to ban the product rather than regulate it just like other alcohol products.”

Margolis replied with the information that the bill passed quickly out of committee in the House, and that “people are concerned.”

“I’m not telling you tales of what could happen — these are things that do happen,” said Margolis, ominously emphasizing the powder’s potential threat to public safety. “I think it’s important not to be a demonstration state, and to indeed ban it until you have some idea what in the world is going on out there.”

Despite some concerns raised by state Sens. Darren Soto, Garrett Richter and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla — who indicated he preferred to regulate than to ban the product — as well as Capitol gadfly Brian Pitts that the criminal penalties in the statute were too strident, the bill was approved without opposition on a 12-0 vote.

The proposal’s House counterpart sponsored by state Rep. Bryan Avila currently sits in Regulatory Affairs after being approved in Appropriations yesterday.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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