A state House panel earlier this year nixed efforts to allow customers to purchase wine or beer when they order dinner through a food delivery app, but a task force that includes various stakeholders of the idea has been plodding through the details to see whether lawmakers should reconsider.
The Louisiana Retail Food and Beverage E-Commerce Task Force met Thursday and heard from representatives of the Louisiana-based Waitr food delivery service and Instacart, a California-based grocery delivery company that has been operating in Louisiana since March.
Supporters of the effort say it could boost revenue to restaurants and other retailers. Skeptics have voiced concern about unintended consequences of any framework that's put in place, including permitting, taxing and policing to ensure that alcohol won't be sold to minors.
Customers itching to order a bottle of wine with their Waitr order had their hopes dashed Thursday after two alcohol delivery bills were kille…
After the proposal was resoundingly rejected by the House Judiciary Committee in the spring, lawmakers did something that is common in the Louisiana Capitol: They created a task force to look into it further and come back with more information. It includes representatives from the House and Senate, restaurants, grocers, convenience stores, local governments and other stakeholders.
The task force has been meeting monthly to try to see if an agreement can be hashed out between the two sides.
"We have zero objection to being regulated," said Julius Meaux, of Waitr. "We want to do it in the manner that the (Alcohol and Tobacco Control) wants us to."
Alcohol delivery apps have flourished in other states -- part of a digitized on-demand economy driven by the growth of popular companies like Uber, AirBnB and Postmates. Some alcohol-only delivery services have also popped up, but the Louisiana proposals that have been floated would require the purchase of food if alcohol is delivered from a restaurant.
Meaux said he thinks that the proposal is reasonable in a state that is known for having drive-thru daiquiri shops.
Beer, wine and hard liquor could be delivered to homes under legislation that advanced Monday by a state Senate committee.
"I'm trying to keep people off the streets," he said.
Under bills that ultimately died in the House Judiciary Committee in May, deliveries would be restricted to factory-sealed beverages, such as wine or bottled beer. They would not have allowed deliveries of cocktails, glasses of wine or other open-container beverages.
Drivers who choose to handle orders that include alcohol would be required to undergo responsible vendor training and check customer identification to verify ages.
Both Meaux and Rebekah Punak, of Instacart, said they believe that allowing alcohol deliveries would help local businesses.
"(Customers) would love to get the products from their favorite local retailer, but they really enjoy the convenience," Punak said.
The task force must submit its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by March 1.
"Our goal should be to promote more responsible behavior," said Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs. "I think that's the biggest concern that all of us have."