Louisiana lawmakers have passed legislation making it easier for companies to deliver alcohol in the state, granting third-party delivery services like UberEats, Waitr and Shipt the ability to deliver beer and wine through contract workers.
The state House passed Senate Bill 178 by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, on a 83 to 13 vote Thursday.
When lawmakers legalized alcohol delivery, last year, they only allowed businesses like grocery stores, restaurants and liquor stores to deliver beverages if they did so with their own employees. That excluded major third-party delivery services, like UberEats and Shipt, from taking part.
Even one of the bill’s main beneficiaries, the Louisiana-based food delivery service Waitr, became unable to participate once it laid off all 2,300 drivers and told them to reapply as independent contractors, which were banned from delivering alcohol.
Allain’s bill makes several changes to the alcohol delivery laws, but perhaps most importantly allows independent contractors to deliver, a move that is expected to bring major delivery services into the fold and expand the delivery of alcohol to homes across the state.
The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has already loosened its rules for alcohol delivery amid the coronavirus pandemic – as many states have done – and allowed restaurants offering take-out and curbside sales during the stay-at-home order to include alcohol in those deliveries.
“This is already happening. This is what’s happening right now,” said Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, a Houma Republican who handled the bill in the House. “Coronavirus has brought us to this point.”
As of March 1, about 50 companies got the necessary paperwork to deliver alcohol in Louisiana, mostly grocers and liquor stores. But access was uneven, as services like Waitr and UberEats that covered wide swaths of the state and were boxed out.
The legislation that is headed to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk also loosens some restrictions on how far companies can deliver alcohol, among other changes.