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Florida's "Liquor Wall" survives

Walls have been the subject of political conversations for decades. Back in the mid-eighties, former President Ronald Reagan implored Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” During his campaign and in the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump promises to, “Build that wall.”

Florida also has a proposed wall. It is popularly referred to as the “liquor wall” that keeps sales of spirits in liquor stores.

And, for now, it is not going anywhere.

In a last minute reprieve for a heavily lobbied initiative, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have allowed liquor to be sold alongside groceries and other retail items. The legislation passed last month in the house by a vote of 58-57. The Senate approved it by a slightly wider margin, 21-17.

Social conservatives in the state opposed the bill, claiming that beer, wine and hard liquor becoming more accessible would lead to increased alcohol consumption, alcoholism and underage drinking. Yet, louder pleas from a smaller lobby played a role in the governor’s veto.

Independent liquor storeowners and their employees.

Scott cited his experience as a small business owner, relating to the challenges they already face in staying afloat and creating jobs. He felt the bill would not only impact them and their staff, but also their families.

Other life experiences played a role. The day before the deadline to sign the bill, Scott acknowledged a family history of alcoholism, including his father and brother.

Wal-Mart, Target and other big-box retailers who supported enactment are not ending the pursuit they started four years ago. A spokesperson for the group claims that the push for a “common-sense approach to liquor sales” will continue. They look forward to working with state leaders and put an end to “this outdated, Prohibition-era law.”

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