A bill that would allow restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages directly to customers has passed the Arkansas legislature. Restaurants have been able to deliver alcohol under an executive order, and the bill would enshrine this into law.
On Thursday, April 8, the Arkansas Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 339, sponsored by Sen. Jane English and Rep. Aaron Pilkington. This bill would allow restaurants with a permit to deliver alcoholic beverages directly to consumers in wet counties.
In the bill, the sponsors reference the difficulties restaurants have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reduced revenue streams they have seen. Many restaurants have increasingly relied on delivery and take-out models, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s executive orders have enabled restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages, but the legislators note that this order is temporary.
Hutchinson announced in March 2020 that restaurants and breweries would be allowed to sell wine and beer with any permit and deliver the products to patrons. This order, however, prohibited the sale of “spirituous liquor” for go-to delivery. The order also prohibited sales or deliveries within a dry county or area.
Under this bill, restaurants would be allowed to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages with the purchase of a meal. The alcohol amounts are 72 ounces of beer, malt beverages or hard cider; 750 milliliters of wine; or 32 ounces of spirituous liquors. Restaurants would not be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays.
If signed into law, the bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
The Arkansas Senate passed the bill on Thursday, April 8 by a vote of 21 to 11 with 2 voting present. The Arkansas House of Representatives passed the bill on March 22 with a vote of 64 to 11 with 11 non-voting members and 14 present members.
Currently, the bill has been enrolled.