By HEATHER GANN, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Several bills focused on alcohol sales and shipment are working their way through the Legislature this session, with some already receiving favorable votes in the House.
House Bill 119, sponsored by Rep. Gil Isbell, R-Gadsden, would allow retailers licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption to use a drive-through or walk-up window for the purchase of beer and wine. The bill passed the House by a vote of 65-18 earlier this month. On Wednesday, it was given favorable review by the Senate Tourism Committee after it was amended to add the sale of spirits at drive-through or walk-up windows. It now moves to Senate for a full vote.
Isbell is also sponsoring two other bills involving the sales of alcoholic beverages this session: House Bill 328 and House Bill 149.
“The purpose of a representative or senator is to work for the citizens of Alabama and these (bills) are due to the will of the people,” Isbell told Alabama Daily News recently. “You can’t please everyone, I’ve learned in politics, but you do what’s best for the majority of the state, and most citizens do want that convenience.”
House Bill 328 would regulate the sale and tax of “spirit- infused refreshments” of less than 16 ounces and 10% alcohol content and allow them to be sold with a beer license.
House Bill 149 would allow a retail table wine licensee to sell wine for off-premises consumption in containers approved by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The same idea is being presented to the Senate as Senate Bill 22, sponsored by Sen. Randy Price, R- Opelika.
Below is a list of other alcohol focused bills to watch for during the session.
House Bill 71, sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver, R- Dadeville, which would allow for communities to more easily establish entertainment districts if the sale of alcoholic beverages within the community has already been legalized. This is being introduced in the Senate as Senate Bill 64, sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville.
House Bill 176, sponsored by Rep. Kyle South, R- Fayette, would allow servers and bussers from ages 18-20 to serve alcohol to customers in restaurant settings. A representative for the Alabama Citizen’s Action Program appeared at a public hearing Wednesday to speak against the bill, citing teenage alcoholism as a concern. South countered that this bill was about assisting a workforce shortage in Alabama and said there is little difference between the current regulation that allows some 19 year olds to serve and his proposed change to age 18. The House committee on Economic Development and Tourism will vote on the bill next week.
House Bill 215, sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball, R- Madison, would increase the allowable number of entertainment districts within a Class 3 municipality from five to nine.
House Bill 234, sponsored by Rep. Neil Rafferty, D- Birmingham, would allow food trucks in Class 1 municipalities, of which Birmingham is the only one in the state, to sell alcoholic beverages in a designated entertainment district.
“Birmingham has a huge hospitality industry and with the World Games coming up, I look around at other places where the food trucks can sell alcohol and think, why can’t we have that?” Rafferty told Alabama Daily News. “Beyond the World Games, it’s an economic development program because there are a lot of food truck owners just trying to make a break. Food trucks are cheaper than brick and mortar establishments and a lot of them are owned by women and minorities, so this would really give these communities a helping hand that could maybe earn them enough money to establish a restaurant.”
The bill was approved in the House and awaits a Senate committee vote.
House Bill 240, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R- Decatur, makes some changes to the 2021 law she sponsored that allows some wine retailers to ship directly to Alabamians’ homes. She said the changes were needed to put ABC’s rules on delivery similar to other states’ regulations.
“(The 2021 wine delivery bill) was a very popular bill but I want it to continue to be a very safe bill,” Collins told Alabama Daily News. “… (House Bill 240 makes) our rules in Alabama somewhat comparable to all the states around us but keep that delivery system very safe and secure.”
The changes include allowing shippers to send wine to both wet and dry counties and municipalities. It also amends some of the application requirements on shippers.
Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greenboro, is sponsoring the Senate version, Senate Bill 172.