Bill seeks to loosen liquor laws

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 09:51 AM.

BONIFAY — Liquor laws could get looser in several rural Panhandle counties.

The Florida Legislature passed a bill last week (HB 347) that could help all restaurants sell liquor, wine and beer in counties where that is not currently allowed, including Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties.

The bill would affect sales of “by the drink” alcohol, which are beverages consumed where they’re purchased, such as restaurants and bars.

But, even if the bill is signed by the governor, which appears likely —it cleared the House 111-4 and the Senate 36-0 —it doesn’t automatically legalize “by the drink” sales throughout the counties.

The measure would fall back into the hands of local voters, who would have an easier time getting it on the ballot.

Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington currently do not sell liquor by the drink.

State Rep. Marti Coley, a Marianna Republican, said twice in recent years there has been an effort to get the issue on the ballot, but it failed.

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