Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to sign legislation that would allow retail liquor stores, microbrewery restaurants and small breweries to deliver alcoholic beverages to the private residence of a consumer at least 21 years old in a wet county during legal operating hours, Hutchinson spokesman Katie Beck said Friday.
Delivery of alcoholic beverages to residences was originally authorized by an Alcoholic Beverage Control Division emergency rule change, which was possible because of the governor's declaration of the covid-19 public health emergency. There are 441 liquor stores, eight microbrewery restaurants and 42 small breweries in the state, said Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration.
Senate Bill 32 by Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, is aimed at allowing that delivery to continue after the end of the state's public health emergency. The bill would become effective 91 days after the adjournment of the regular session because it lacks an emergency clause.
The Senate on Wednesday voted 18-9 to send the bill to the Republican governor, after concurring with a House-approved amendment to the bill. Eighteen votes are required for approval of non-appropriation bills in the 35-member Senate. The bill cleared the House in a 67-21 vote on Feb. 10.
The bill would require the alcoholic beverages to be delivered by an employee of the permit-holding retail liquor store, microbrewery restaurant or small brewery to the private residence and not allow them to be handled through a third-party delivery system. It also would bar the permit holder from delivering alcoholic beverages to an area outside of the county in which the permitted business is located.