-Opposition Continues Protectionist Agenda While Opting for No Walls in Alcohol Sales-
(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Floridians for Fair Business Practices (FFBP), a coalition of retailers and business groups in Florida, today restated their unwavering support for free market and pro-business values while opponents continue to use false arguments on competition and scare tactics in alcohol access to minors.
House Bill 245 by Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) and Senate Bill 420 by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers), repealing Florida’s anti-competitive alcohol separation law by ‘tearing down the wall’ that separates beer, wine and groceries with spirits, is expected to be heard in Tuesday’s House Business and Professions Subcommittee in Tallahassee, Florida.
The opposition, which touts unfair business practices and a protectionist agenda if this legislation is passed, supports keeping a wall in the name of free market. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a recent story reported by ABC Action News in Tampa, Florida, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, a member of the ‘Florida Businesses Unite’ coalition largely comprised of liquor stores, now supports no walls in the sale of alcohol.
“It is disingenuous to say the least when you talk about keeping a wall up in protecting a prohibition-era law, yet on the other hand, allow doorstep delivery of alcohol where there are no walls in order to profit from modern 21st century laws,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Floridians for Fair Business Practices. “Given these facts, the opposition seems less concerned about minor access and more concerned about suppressing the free market to guard their bottom line.”
FFBP coalition members, representing hundreds of thousands of Florida-based employers and employees, believe the time is now to repeal the alcohol separation law in order to allow competition in today’s marketplace, by creating a level playing field for all Florida businesses.
Florida legislators had this to say about the free market legislation:
Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami): “Florida’s economy continues to thrive and small businesses are doing well. Let’s repeal this law and get government out of the way so businesses can operate more efficiently and continue to strengthen our economy.”
Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford): “Repealing this outdated law will tear down barriers that hinder and discourage business growth and expansion. Florida should live up to our reputation as a pro-business state and pass this legislation in 2016.”
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota): “I would think that it would be a heck of a lot easier to manage your product not having to build two separate locations, not having to hire two separate employee staffs to manage the big store and your separate store that has certain spirits.”
Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven): “Repealing the alcohol separation issue supports a free market, with fewer regulations and allows for a level playing field among independent retailers. In addition, there is no denying that a higher crime rate exists among separate liquor stores. If passed, this law would allow establishments who want to sell spirits in the same aisle as beer and wine, where even greater security measures are in place, to do so without being forced to comply with some antiquated law.”
Florida coalition members and supporters had this to say about the pro-consumer repeal:
Windell Paige, President of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce: “This is a matter of government overregulation. Small business needs to have the same advantages as large business for competition purposes.”
Carol Dover, President/CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association: “When there are laws that have outlived their purpose and relevance, it’s time to take them off the books. This prohibition-era law needs to be repealed so large and small retailers may compete on the same level playing field.”
Americans for Prosperity – Florida (Excerpt from AFP-FL Briefing: Modernizing Florida’s Liquor Laws, A Brief Analysis of Select Florida Alcohol Regulations, March 2015): “…Some of the state’s alcohol laws are heritage regulations from a time, shortly after Prohibition ended, that alcohol market was still closely linked with organized crime. Today, these heritage regulations privilege certain businesses over others, create barriers for Florida’s entrepreneurs, and fail to protect the consumer in the same way they did in decades past…”
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform (Excerpts from letter to members of the Florida Senate Committee on Regulated Industries): “Simply put, this law makes no sense and leaves Florida employers with fewer resources to hire new workers, give current workers a raise, and invest back into their businesses and the state. Furthermore, the separation law creates unnecessary barriers to commerce for Florida residents and visitors. After 20 federal tax increases and countless regulations imposed on Floridians from Washington over just the last six years, the last thing your constituents need is to deal with onerous and nonsensical state restrictions that increase costs, erect barriers to commerce, and hurt Florida employers.”
Christian Camara, Florida Director, R Street Institute (Excerpt from an opinion editorial appearing in the Tampa Tribune, March 18, 2015): “…A repeal of this law, passed just after the end of the Prohibition Era, makes sense. Rather than suppress business activity, government should explore ways to reduce barriers to competition and make it easier for willing consumers to transact business safely and legally…Others claim the proposal would put liquor stores out of business. On the contrary, it would encourage that industry to innovate by allowing them to sell other goods and products the law currently bans. Consumers likewise would benefit, because they would have more options and reap the benefit of lower prices brought on by competition…”
About Floridians for Fair Business Practices
Floridians for Fair Business Practices is a coalition of retailers and business groups whose purpose is to identify rules and regulations, which prohibit the growth and expansion of Florida business. Coalition members include the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Target and Walmart. Coalition supporters include Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, and R Street Institute. For additional information, please go to www.FairBizinFlorida.com.