A much-debated piece of legislation informally known as the “whiskey and Wheaties bill” managed to pass by small margins in the Florida House and Senate after being voted down the past four years. It is on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott awaiting his final decision.
If signed into law, the bill would remove a required wall of separation between hard liquor and other items at retail outlets across Florida.
The bill, formally known as SB 106, managed a slim victory of 21-17 in the Senate and barely skated through the House with a 58-57 win. However, the House vote could have been reversed if the “no” votes of five representatives who missed the vote had been counted: They voted “no” after roll call. It has been reported that another legislator wanted to change his vote to "no."
Opposition to the bill, which comes from the Florida Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, independent liquor stores and larger retail chains like Publix and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, among others, continues to mount.
According to Floridapolitics.com, Scott’s office has already received 2,572 emails, 173 phone calls and nine letters urging the governor to veto the bill. By contrast, only 315 emails, 64 calls and six letters have been received in support.
FERLC President Bill Bunkley said in written remarks that hard liquor has no place on the shelves of family friendly retailers.
Bunkley said that making it more convenient to purchase alcohol through big box retailers and chains also makes it more convenient for it to fall in the hands of underage teens, either through shoplifting or acquiring it through an older friend.
Bunkley is urging all Florida Baptist leaders to let their voices be heard by contacting Gov. Scott and telling him to veto SB 106.
Scott’s deadline for a decision is May 24.
Governor Rick Scott
Plaza Level 05, The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee FL 32399-0001
Phone (850) 488-7146
Nicole Kalil is the Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She can be reached by phone at 904.596.3169 or via email at nicole.kalil@goFBW.com