A New Challenge to Florida's Wall of Separation Law

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Early last year, Florida lawmakers tried to repeal an antiquated state law requiring any grocery or chain store wishing to sell distilled spirits to do so in a separate retail location away from other products. The so-called “Whiskey and Wheaties” reform bill passed the state legislature, only to be vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. R Street testified in favor of the reform bill and wrote several op-eds on the issue (here and here). Large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have now initiated an administrative challenge in an effort to get the law overturned:

Target and Walmart are heading to court to get an administrative law judge to give them what Gov. Rick Scott wouldn’t: The ability to sell whiskey and Wheaties in the same store. 

The big-box retailers late Monday filed an administrative challenge against the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages And Tobacco (ABT).

At issue: The state’s obscure, 24-year-old “Restaurant Rule,” which restricts eateries and other businesses that have ‘consumption on premises’ liquor licenses from selling anything other than items “customarily sold in a restaurant.” The plaintiffs say the rule is “not supported by logic or necessary facts.”

For over eight decades, Florida law — enacted after Prohibition — has required retailers to sell hard liquor in a separate store, though beer and wine can be sold in grocery aisles…

Read the rest here.