2017 Legislative Session Update

December 8, 2016


Senate President pro tem Anitere Flores (R-Miami), filed SB 106.  The proposed bill REPEALS the package store statute.  It also allows minors sell hard alcohol with the supervision of someone 18 years of age or older.  This bill is detrimental to the small retailers of Florida.  Senator Flores is changing Florida law to benefit out of state     companies like Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods while putting small Mom and Pop stores OUT of business.  THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE COMPLACENT! We are ready to fight in Tallahassee, but need the support of all alcoholic beverage retailers in Florida.  Encourage stores in your area to get involved in the cause.  Legislators with NO business experience need to hear the concerns of their constituents.  Contact our office to find out how you can get involved in the battle.  

See Copy of the Bill HERE

2016 Session Legislative Update

March 21, 2016


Alcoholic Beverage & Tobacco

SB 698 filed by Senator Rob Bradley (R), Orange Park, passed both the Senate and House Chambers. The bill is waiting to be sent by the presiding speakers to the Governor. The companion bill HB 1079 was filed by Representative Ray Rodrigues (R), Fort Myers. During the legislative process, the bill was amended to include numerous topics. Please see below.

Package Stores

  • Amends s. 565.04, F.S. to allow, when delivering alcoholic beverages to a vendor a licensed distributor may transport the beverages through another premises owned in whole or in part by the vendor

Quota License

  • For quota licenses with license periods commencing on or after July 1, 1981, but issued before September 30, 1988, the bill removes the division’s discretion to waive or extend the activation requirement upon the finding of hardship
  • Upon the written request of the licensee, the division must provide a written waiver or extension of the requirement to maintain the licensed premises in an active manner for a period not to exceed 12 months
  • The bill also deletes the requirement that the licensee is required to make reasonable efforts toward restoring the license to active status during the period the licensed premises is closed
  • For quota licenses issued or transferred after September 30, 1988, the bill requires every licensee to notify the division in writing of any period which his or her license is inactive and place the physical license with the division to be held in an inactive status
  • The bill removes the division’s discretion to waive or extend the activation requirement for up to 12 months and to provide a continuance of an additional 12 months
  • Upon written request of the licensee, the division must provide a written waiver or extension of the requirement to maintain the licensed premises in an active manner for a period not to exceed 24 months


  • Makes an exception for a limited number of beer & wine licensed off-premise establishments to sell growlers. Creates very tight threshold and restrictions for said establishments.

Keg Deposits

  • Creates s. 561.4205, F.S., to require distributors who are selling alcoholic beverages to vendors in bulk to charge a “keg deposit” for kegs in an amount that is not less than that charged to the distributor by the manufacturer
  • The amount charged for kegs of a like brand must be uniform
  • Charges for the deposits collected and credits allowed for empty kegs or containers must be shown separately on all sales tickets or invoices and must be given to the vendor at the time of delivery
  • In lieu of receiving a keg deposit, a distributor selling alcoholic beverages by recyclable keg or other similar reusable container to a vendor an entertainment/resort complex, theme park, or marine exhibition park complex must implement an inventory and reconciliation process with the vendor
  • This inventory and reconciliation process may occur at least twice per year, at the discretion of the distributor, but must occur at least annually

Temporary Permits for Local Governments

  • Allows municipalities, counties, and nonprofit civic and charitable organizations to be issued no more than 12 temporary alcoholic beverages permits per calendar year
  • Requires counties and municipalities to donate all net profits from the sale of alcoholic beverages to a nonprofit civic or charitable organization within 90 days of the event

Special License for Railroad Transit Stations

  • The bill creates a special alcoholic beverage license for railroad transit stations
  • Defines “railroad transit station” as a platform or terminal facility where passenger trains operating on a guided rail system according to a fixed schedule between two or more cities regularly stop to load and unload passengers or goods
  • Allows a railroad transit station to obtain a license to sell alcoholic beverages upon the payment of an annual license of $2,500 to the division
  • Licenses issued would not be subject to the quota licenses restrictions that limit the number of such licenses that may be issued per county

Alcoholic Beverage Tax related to Passenger Vessels

  • The bill provides a new methodology for calculating excise tax payments by passenger vessels
  • It calculates the taxes based on ship capacity rather than volume of alcohol or tobacco sold at port
  • Requires each permittee to keep a strict account of the quarterly capacity of each of its vessel and make quarterly reports to the division
  • The excise taxes and surcharge must be an amount equal to the base rate multiplied by the permitee’s quarterly capacity during the calendar quarter

Culinary Education Programs

HB 249 filed by Representative Jared Moskowitz (D), Coral Springs, passed out of Health Quality Subcommittee, Appropriations Committee, and Health & Human Services Committee.  The companion bill SB 706 filed by Senator Altman (R), Cape Canaveral, passed out of Regulated Industries, Health Policy, and Fiscal Policy.  HB 259 was substituted for SB 706 and passed out of both the House and Senate Chambers.  The Governor has until March 26 to act on this bill.

  • A culinary education program may be granted a special license that will permit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises of the culinary education program. Alcoholic beverages sold for consumption on the premises must be consumed on the licensed premises only
  • The bill exempts a licensed culinary education program providing catering services from the requirement that it must derive 51% of its gross profits from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages
  • For a culinary education program that also provides catering services, the bill provides that the special license will also allow for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of a catered event at which the licensee is also providing prepared food
  • The bill provides that the culinary education program will be assessed an annual fee of $1,820 in compliance with s. 565.02(1)(b), F.S., regardless of the population of the county where the license is issued

Local Bills

All four local bills passed out of three committees before passing out of both the House and Senate chambers.  The Governor has until March 26 to act on these bills.

City of Jacksonville, Duval County

HB 655 filed by Representative Fullwood (D), Jacksonville.

  • Currently, under a local exception, a restaurant in certain designated areas of Jacksonville may be issued an SRX license if it has at least 1,800 square feet of service area, is equipped to serve at least 100 full-service customers, and derives at least 51% of the its gross revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. The bill expands the areas of Jacksonville where a restaurant may be issued an SRX license under the reduced requirements of the local exception to include the Riverside Avondale Urban Transition Area and the Riverside Avondale Commercial Character Areas

City of Tallahassee 

HB 709 filed by Representative Williams (D), Tallahassee.

  • The bill revises the boundaries of the downtown area of Tallahassee that is authorized to receive temporary permits for the sale of alcoholic beverages at outdoor events to include Bragg Memorial Stadium on the Florida A&M University campus.

Hillsborough County

HB 1417 filed by Representative Young (R), Tampa.

  • Under the local exception, a restaurant may be issued an SRX license if it has at least 4,000 square feet of overall floor capacity, is equipped to serve 150 full-service customers, and derives at least 51% of its gross revenue from the sale of food. The bill amends the local exception to reduce the square foot requirement to require no less than 2,500 square feet of overall floor capacity and to allow the sale of nonalcoholic beverages to be included with food from which the restaurant needs to derive at least 51% of its gross revenue

Martin County

HB 1433 filed by Representative Magar (R), Hobe Sound.

  • The bill repeals chs. 63-1619, 91-389, and 2011-246, Laws of Florida, relating to the issuance of SRX licenses for hotels, motels, motor courts, and certain restaurants in Martin County. The issuance of subsequent SRX licenses in the county will be as provided under general law

Relating to Taxation

HB 7099 filed by the Finance & Tax Committee and Representative Matt Gaetz (R), Shalimar, amends excise tax on alcoholic beverages on cruise ships and taxation on cider.

  • The bill amends the definition of cider to include cider made from pears. Consequently, cider made from pears would be taxed at a rate of $0.89 per gallon as opposed to the current rate of $2.25 per gallon
  • The bill replaces the beverage and tobacco taxes that cruise lines currently pay with a new, simplified tax based on ship capacity and the number of times a ship embarks from Florida
  • Specifically, the excise tax due will be an amount equal to a “base rate” multiplied by the permittee’s “quarterly capacity” during the calendar quarter. The base rate will be calculated by DBPR based on data provided by permit holders, and will be an amount equal to total alcoholic beverage and tobacco-related taxes and surcharges paid by all permit holders between January 1 and December 31, 2015, divided by the sum of the annual capacities of all permitted vessels. Annual capacity is an amount equal to the number of lower berths on a vessel multiplied by the number of embarkations of that vessel during a calendar year. The quarterly capacity is an amount equal to the number of lower berths on a vessel multiplied by the number of embarkations of that vessel during a calendar quarter
  • An embarkation is an instance where a vessel departs from a port in Florida. The new tax will be paid quarterly by each permit holder, less any tax already paid by a licensed manufacturer or distributor pursuant to the Beverage Law or tobacco tax statutes.
  • Each permit holder must report the annual capacity for each of its vessels to DBPR by August 1, 2016. The department must calculate the base rate by September 1, 2016 and report it to each permit holder. The revenues from the replacement tax will be distributed in the same manner as taxes on alcoholic beverages under current law

Florida Brewery Directional Signs

An amendment filed by Senator Brandes was amended to the Transportation bill, HB 7061.  The amendment created Section 563.13 “Florida Brewery Directional Signs; fees”

  • Upon the request of a brewery licensed under s. 561.221(2) or (3) which produces a minimum of 2,500 barrels per year on premises, is open to the public at least 30 hours per week, and is available for tours, the Department of Transportation shall install directional signs for the brewery on rights-of-ways of interstate highways
  • The brewery that requests a sign through the department’s permit process shall pay all associated costs


Wal-mart Separation 

SB 420 filed by Senator Benacquisto (R), Fort Myers, and HB 245 filed by Representative Trujillo (R), Doral, died in the committee process.  SB 420 never had a Senate hearing and HB 245 had a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Business Regulation but failed to get out of committee. A HUGE SUCCESS!!!

  • The bill would have repealed s. 565.04, F.S. (package store statute)

Powdered Alcohol

SB 392 filed by Senator Margolis (D), Miami, passed out of Regulated Industries, but died in Commerce & Tourism.  The companion bill, HB 1107, filed by Representative Rouson (D), St. Petersburg, died in the committee process.

  • The bill would have prohibited the sale, purchase, use, or possession of powdered alcohol, defined in the bill as alcohol prepared in a powdered form for either direct use or consumption after the powder is combined with a liquid
  • Prohibited licensed alcoholic beverage vendors from selling powdered alcohol
  • A person who violated the prohibition on selling or offering to sell powdered alcohol commits a first degree misdemeanor
  • A person who purchases, uses, offers for use, or possess powdered alcohol commits a noncriminal violation, punishable by a fine of $250
  • Prohibition on powdered alcohol would not have applied to powdered alcohol used for research by healthcare providers, state institutions, universities and colleges, and pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. The prohibition did not apply to the possession of powdered alcohol solely for the purpose of transportation through Florida by or on behalf of a licensed manufacturer or a common carrier

Distilled Spirits

SB 462 filed by Senator Hutson (R), Palm Coast, died in the committee process.  The companion bill, HB 4023, filed by Representative Steube (R), Sarasota, also died in the committee process.

  • Proposed removing the restrictions on the sale of individual containers of distilled spirits to consumers in a face-to-face transaction.  Restrictions that were passed during the 2015 Legislative Session
  • Purchase no more than two individual containers of each branded products, three individual containers of a single branded product and up to one individual container of a second branded product, or four individual containers of a single branded product

Distilled Spirits

SB 814 filed by Senator Latvala (R), Clearwater, died in the committee process.  The companion bill, HB 623, passed out of Business & Professions Subcommittee, but died in Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

  • The bill would have allowed distributors that are licensed to sell wine or distilled spirits to purchase the wine or distilled spirits from a licensed vendor
  • The bill would have allowed licensed vendors to sell alcoholic beverages to distributors for further distribution to other vendors. However, the act of selling wine or distilled spirits to distributors for redistribution would not classify the vendor as a distributor
  • The bill required the distributors that purchase from vendors to maintain accurate records pursuant to s. 561.55, F.S., of all purchases from a licensed vendor, including detailed supporting receipts from the sale of wine and distilled spirits to the distributor
  • The bill required distributors to report the resale of wine and distilled spirits to vendors on monthly excise tax reports, but are not required to pay the excise taxes on the alcohol that the distributor has purchased from a vendor, as the excise tax on those specific alcoholic beverages has already been paid by the distributor that sold the alcoholic beverages to the vendor originally
  • The bill would have exempted alcoholic beverages purchased from a vendor by a distributor from sales tax

Alcoholic Beverage Permits

SB 934 by Senator Latvala (R) and HB 645 filed by Representative Peters (R), both from St. Petersburg, did not pass through the committee process, but the language regarding railroad transit stations receiving alcoholic beverage permits was amended into the alcohol package that ultimately passed out of both chambers SB 698.

Driver Licenses

HB 207 filed by Representative Rouson (D), St. Petersburg, passed out of Highway & Waterway Safety Subcommittee, but died after being temporarily postponed in Appropriations Committee.

  • The bill would have repealed the discretionary revocation or suspension of a driver license for certain persons who provide alcohol to persons under 21 years of age


Special Legislative Update – Scott Dick – March 11, 2016

The 2016 Florida Legislature adjourned this afternoon around 7 pm.  I am pleased to report that we defeated WALMART and other large retailers’ effort to change current law to allow large retail stores to sell spirits alongside grocery items and general merchandise.  The legislation would have also allowed convenience stores to sell spirits.  The legislation, HB 245 filed by Representative Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) had a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Business Regulation but failed to get out of committee.  SB 420 filed by Elizabeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers), never had a Senate committee hearing.  This is the third year that we have defeated WALMART’s effort!

The defeat of this legislation is not by happenstance.  FISA, ABC and Publix were all engaged in the lobbying effort.  I think the key part of our lobbying was the effort we successfully delivered in the 2015 session where we ended up killing the measure by not allowing it to be taken up in the closing hours of the House session.  This sound defeat and the issue fresh on everyone’s mind took a little juice out of their effort this year.  Representative Carlos Trujillo led the charge for WALMART in the 2015 session as well.

We will certainly take a few days to celebrate our huge victory, as you should too.  But our lobbying efforts begin now to defeat the legislation again next session.  Yes, legislation will be filed for the 2017 session.  And yes, if you continue to support FISA’s lobbying effort then we just might be in a position to once again defeat the World’s largest retailer. 

We will send out a detailed report on the 2016 Legislative Session soon.  Only one major alcohol beverage bill passed both Chambers and will soon head to the Governor’s desk.  A few local bills passed and many bills died without receiving a hearing.

2015 Florida Legislature Convenes March 2nd

The Florida Legislature convenes its 60-day session on March 3rd. The last day of Regular Session, if the Legislature completes work in 60 days, is May 1. This session marks one of the most active sessions Florida’s alcohol beverage industry has seen. It appears that FISA will be in the defensive for most of the session.


Wal-Mart Bill Passes Out of Committee

HB 107, by Representative Greg Steube (R), Sarasota, a comprehensive alcohol beverage bill, that includes WALMART & TARGET’s package store repeal language, passed out of the House Business and Professional Regulation Committee by a vote of 9-4 on February 18th. We have a lot of work to do to keep the bill(s) from moving through the process! The bill has two additional committee stops, the House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the Regulatory Affairs Committee. Rory Eggers, FISA President, and Charles Bailes, CEO of ABC Fine Wine & Liquors, testified before the committee. Both did an outstanding job. Other business groups testifying against the WALMART section of the bill include NFIB, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and PUBLIX. Other groups in opposition include pastors, the prevention community, and social conservative groups. There are two stand-alone bills, SB 468 and HB 499, that have been filed that repeal the package store statute. The legislation as filed would allow WALMART, TARGET, WALGREENS, and others to sell hard liquor next to other merchandise in their main stores. Separate liquor stores would no longer be required.


Growler, Brewery Bills

Growler legislation, 64 oz growlers, is moving through both Houses of the Legislature. The legislation in addition to authorizing 64 oz growlers clarifies that quota licensed establishments may fill, refill, and sell growlers. The problem with the growler language is that it is part of comprehensive alcohol beverage bills that create additional concerns for FISA. Other issues in the comprehensive alcohol beverage packages are retail exceptions for craft brewers, and direct sales for craft distillers.


2015 Alcohol Bills

Click on the links below to view the different alcohol bills in the 2015 session:


SB 186

SB 468

SB 536

SB 596

SB 998



HB 107

HB 263

HB 301

HB 327

HB 499

HB 883