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The Capitolist: Retailers, Consumers Make Final Push for Governor to Sign SB 106

Friday, May 19, 2017

by | May 19, 2017

As of mid-day Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott‘s office has received more than 4,500 contacts from citizens urging him to sign Senate Bill 106, which would allow retailers to sell spirits within their stores instead of forcing consumers to exit the retailer and enter a liquor store from a separate entrance. Including contacts with legislators, total outreach in favor of the bill is nearly 24,000 emails, calls or similar correspondence.

To boost the effort, the Center for Consumer Freedom launched a petition in support of the bill and is urging people to share the link with friends, supporters and on social media.

If the governor signs the bill, supporters say it will enhance Florida’s economy and empower customer choice, and will instilling free market principles in an industry that has been “dominated by governmental protectionism since Prohibition.

Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a coalition of retailers and consumers, says that the bill is not only business-friendly, but would also encourage more innovation and promote competition.

“Signing this legislation into law sends a message to businesses around the country that Florida is open for business for companies big and small and that free market principles are alive and well in the Sunshine State,” the group said in a press release.

It’s a similar argument made by Governor Rick Scott himself, when he signed the recent ridesharing legislation into law:

“Florida is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation because of our efforts to reduce burdensome regulations and encourage innovation and job creation across all industries, including transportation,” Scott said in a statement posted on his official website.

The group also pushed back against what they described as a “last minute attempt” by some to defeat the bill.

A push earlier this week by a Baptist group erroneously claimed that the bill would allow minors to have increased access to alcohol. But data from state regulators tell a different story. Since 2012, liquor stores and convenience stores have been cited for selling alcohol to minors 192 times. Not a single large retailer or grocery store was cited over that same period. Pouring even more cold water on such arguments, a national survey of minors showed that among those who drink alcohol, less than 6% say they got it from a retail establishment.

Then there is the specious argument from liquor store owners that SB 106 will force them out of business.

Yet in states with no wall and similar regulatory structures, large retailers, on average, hold less than 10% of the available liquor licenses and independent liquor stores are still thriving. And SB 106 does nothing to affect Florida’s current licensing quota system. Retailers that already possess a liquor license will be able to move spirits inside their main store, next to the beer and wine many already sell.

There are few, if any, instances where Governor Scott has vetoed legislation to keep a regulation in place just for the purpose of protecting a narrow market segment. Given the points in favor of signing SB 106, the Governor has every reason to sign it into law.

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