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Thursday, Oct 02, 2014

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Two former liquor regulators join push to tear down wall of separation between groceries and booze


Published:

Retailers have enlisted two former alcohol regulators in their effort to repeal state law requiring separate liquor stores next to supermarkets and other shops.

Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a joint effort of Walmart and Target, announced Tuesday that John Harris and Wes Singletary “have joined its ranks.”

Harris was formerly the head of Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and Singletary served as its chief of licensing and auditing.

Christina Johnson, president of Tallahassee’s On 3 Public Relations, represents the business group.

She said both men support efforts “to repeal the state’s obsolete separation law that forces retailers and grocers to sell [spirits] in a separate location from food, beer and wine.”

This latest PR push may be a last-ditch play.

Bills filed in the House and Senate (SB 804, HB 877) haven’t been scheduled for a hearing. The legislative session is nearly half over, ending on May 2.

Liquor store chains, including ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, and the alcohol-abuse prevention community oppose the move.

They counter that hard liquor’s presence in supermarkets will put it that much closer to minors.

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