LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Nowadays, it seems like just about anything can be bought online and delivered to your door, but a COVID-era Arkansas law allowing alcohol deliveries from stores could soon be repealed.
Over-the-counter and curbside sales were all customers knew when it came to alcohol a couple of years ago, but like many things, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. Starting when former Governor Asa Hutchinson temporarily allowed deliveries in dry counties.
“That it made it necessary to really reinvent ourselves overnight,” Clark Trim, owner of Colonial Wines and Spirits in Little Rock, said.
His business began to focus online. When Act 158 made online deliveries permanent, his company invested further with two delivery vehicles and additional personnel.
“With the kind of comfortable feeling that this was something that was here to stay. We weren’t afraid of making these investments,” Trim said. “If we had known it was a temporary thing, we might have relooked at the amount of investment that we’ve made in delivery.”
Enter February when Senate Bill 284 was filed to repeal the law. Its author, Sen. Jane English, is the same person who wrote the original bill making alcohol delivery law.
The bill was scheduled in committee to be heard Tuesday and the week prior. On both occasions, English did not show up to present them.
FOX 16 News couldn’t get a hold of English over the phone, but through the Senate Information Director John Reed who spoke with her Tuesday, saying “she was too busy” to run the bill.
David Cox, founder and president of the Family Council shared a statement in support of the bill.
“Practically speaking, alcohol delivery is difficult to monitor in state law. It raises concerns about how you prevent things like underage drinking. S.B. 284 by Sen. English helps provide clarity by eliminating the alcohol delivery statute from state code.”Family Council founder and president David Cox
Officials with Alcohol Beverage Control said they have not had to issue any violations for deliveries to minors. ABC Spokesman Scott Hardin sent a statement regarding the bill.
ABC has not had to issue any violations to restaurants or liquor stores for delivering to a minor. While it may be a bit more complicated to enforce, we do not see that delivery represents a significant portion of business. For example, a restaurant can’t deliver an order with alcohol through a third party delivery service (Uber eats, bite squad, etc). The same requirement applies to liquor stores. Alcohol must be delivered by an employee (21 or older). A small restaurant or liquor store would have to make enough through alcohol delivery to justify an additional position. It seems the larger retail liquor stores are those utilizing delivery.Alcohol Beverage Control Spokesman Scott Hardin
The bill remains in committee. According to the senate information director, English does plan to run it when she has the time.
Trim said the bill “shocked” him and if it passes, it will particularly hurt his elderly customers who’ve gotten used to the service.
“I don’t know what’s broken that needs to be fixed. It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Trim stated.