Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Legislators vote to expand access to alcohol delivery

by BIZ Magazine

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Louisiana legislators have approved a change to the law meant to make it easier to have alcohol delivered.

Last year, lawmakers legalized alcohol delivery but said the deliveries had to be made by direct employees of the store or restaurant, or by a third-party company with direct, permanent employees. This restriction was justified as ensuring the legal responsibility is clear if something goes wrong, lawmakers said.

But the problem is that most third-party food and beverage delivery companies use contract workers, not direct employees. Waitr, the only such company using direct employees in the state when the bill passed last year, has recently moved to contractors.

So in practice, consumer access to alcohol delivery has been limited at best. Senate Bill 178 by Sen. Bret Allain, a Franklin Republican, would allow companies using 1099 contract workers to participate.

The bill also allows stores, previously limited to beer and wine, to also deliver liquor. Restaurants still would be limited to low-alcohol-content beverages.

“If this situation with the COVID-19 and the emergency we are having isn’t evidence enough that we need delivery of alcohol, I can’t imagine what is,” Allain said in a committee hearing earlier this month.

The vote was 83-13, and the bill now heads to the governor’s desk. The change would require the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to promulgate rules.

Delivery drivers would be subject to the same rules as bartenders and store clerks and subject to the same penalties for serving underage drinkers, supporters of the legislation said.

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