By Joseph Claypoole
WNPA News Service
People will continue to be able to get a mixed drink with their takeout food until 2023 under a bill now moving to the state Senate for consideration.
Delivery and curbside/takeout service of alcoholic beverages and spirits has been in force during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now HB 1480, which passed out of the House with an 86-12 vote, extends these privileges until July 1, 2023.
The hospitality and leisure sectors were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, with a 32 percent decline in revenue as of January this year, according to the Department of Commerce.
Most venues that already have a liquor or beer and wine license are eligible to start selling, but they must also have food of some sort on the menu. This includes distilleries, wineries and caterers.
In addition to the extended duration, the bill also requires an independent study of the economic, social and health impacts of the temporary allowances. This report is due by Dec. 1, 2022.
Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, said he worries about the bill’s impact.
“They can pre-mix the cocktail when you pick up your food and you can take it home with you in your car,” Dent said. “It looks to me like we’re setting people up for impaired driving and I have an issue with that.”
Seth Dawson, of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, said he is sympathetic to the challenges facing restaurants, but said his organization is “concerned about the ID verification.”
Concern for the length of the allowances was also a major issue for opponents.
Since the bill’s public hearing and Dawson’s testimony, Legislators amended the bill to require a signature and ID check, but the timeline for the privileges still extends to the original 2023 date.
The bill’s next stop is the Senate. More information about the bill and eligible venues can be found on the leg.wa.gov website.