JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate perfected its version of a bill Monday evening that would allow bars and restaurants to permanently sell alcoholic drinks to go.
SB 283 from Sen. Denny Hoskins would allow Missourians to order mixed drinks to go from bars and restaurants as long as they are in a sealed, clear container and are purchased along with a meal. Open container laws would still apply. Hoskins said the bill would allow Missourians to continue enjoying drinks in the safety of their own homes.
“We already know what implementing this law would look like,” Hoskins said on the floor, referring to the executive order that allowed the practice during the pandemic. “The bill simply allows Missourians to do curbside pick-up or carry out their favorite meal and pick up their favorite adult beverage to go with it.”
“Pre-COVID, the same Missourians who have been enjoying drinks to-go would have been in our dining rooms enjoying food and alcohol, and now they have an opportunity to enjoy the same thing in their own home,” he continued.
Hoskins’ bill would also treat alcohol sales on Sundays the same as other days and would allow sellers to resupply their stock through other retailers as long as the supply was purchased through a distributor. Hoskins added a cap for wine, beer, and liquor purchases as an amendment after Sen. Bill White raised concerns over circumventing the state’s three-tier liquor licensing system.
Members on both sides of the aisle voiced their support of the bill and offered their own tweaks on the floor. Sen. Karla May, who said she supported the underlying bill, held court with several colleagues across the aisle to address concerns over specific aspects, including the use of legislation to change an industry without its input.
“This is such a wonderful piece of policy that I think is very needed,” May said. “My concern is we’re haphazardly solving something that I think the entities it is affecting need to sit down and come up with a solution instead of us trying to solve a perceived problem.”
An amendment proposed by President Pro Tem Dave Schatz would have allowed companies to establish central warehouses to distribute their product to locations across the state rather than being restricted to areas touching the county the hub resides in. The amendment was voted down after nearly an hour of debate.
A similar bill was perfected in the House last month. Members on both sides of the aisle supported the measure, noting the impact the pandemic had on business owners in their districts.
Missouri’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) waived restrictions on the sale of mixed drinks to go by restaurants and bars in April 2020, and the order was extended through the remainder of the year through an executive order from Gov. Mike Parson. The order required a food purchase to take out drinks as well.
State law permits the sale of alcohol in its original packaging from companies with a valid liquor license, but it does not allow for the sale of mixed drinks for patrons to take away.