The fate of any changes to the state’s wholesale distribution monopoly on wine and spirits will likely be decided in a conference committee in the Legislature.
The Mississippi House voted to pass Senate Bill 2806 by a 107-9 margin on Tuesday. The bill that was authored by state Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, and was designed to be a vehicle for changes to ABC by bringing forth the relevant code sections.
The House rewrote the bill to get the state out of the wholesale distribution business in a manner similar to House Bill 997 that was authored by state Rep Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia. That bill was passed by the Senate Finance Committee on March 2 after being rewritten with what’s known as a strike-all amendment.
Mississippi is one of 17 states nationwide that are known as control states, which means government has a monopoly on wholesale distribution of at least one of the three categories of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and spirits) and even retail, like Alabama.
The state owns a 211,000 square foot warehouse built in 1983 in Gluckstadt with a shipping capacity of 19,000 cases that has been unable to keep up with increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. House leaders want to get the state out of the distribution business entirely, while Senate leaders favor hiring a vendor to run the warehouse.
The House also voted to approve SB 2804, which would allow home delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer such as a package store. The bill is being held over on a motion to reconsider (a holding tactic that keeps a controversial bill alive after a deadline) and the Senate will have to concur with the House’s changes to the bill.
A similar bill, HB 1135, was amended in a similar fashion by the Senate and passed on a 41-8 margin.
The deadline for bills from the other chamber to receive floor votes is today, with the deadline to dispense with motions to reconsider looming on Thursday.
The House concurred with the changes to HB 1302, which means Gov. Tate Reeves can sign it into law. This bill expands the scope of practice for optometrists to perform certain procedures on the eyelids and prescribe certain drugs.
The House voted to pass SB 2119 by a 117-3 margin, which would authorize the sale of nasal and sinus drugs containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk.
Another bill passed by the House was SB 2267, which would allow reciprocity for those holding teacher’s licenses from other states to receive a license in Mississippi. The House rewrote the bill with a strike-all amendment and the Senate will have to either concur with the changes or invite a conference to work on a compromise.