Mar 22, 2021 - News
Iowa lawmakers consider bill legalizing third-party alcohol delivery
Illustration of beer pouring from a smartphone into a pint glass.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you've ever wanted UberEats to deliver a margarita alongside your nachos — your wish may soon be granted.

Driving the news: Iowa legislators are considering a bill allowing third-party delivery companies to deliver alcohol from retailers, including grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

  • Right now, retailers can deliver booze themselves — but Uber or DoorDash are prohibited from this practice.

It may seem like a win-win situation at a time when restaurants and breweries need as much support as they can get.

Yes, but: There are concerns about who's liable if a teenager or already intoxicated person gets one of these boozy deliveries, said Jessica Dunker, president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

  • "The last thing we want is 16 year olds ordering 10 tapas and a gallon of margaritas and having it delivered on their parents' accounts," Dunker said.

Dunker said her association would like to see two things:

  • Require delivery companies to sign a contract with restaurants before delivering food and drinks from them — an effort to address issues reported nationwide that some couriers are delivering food without restaurants' knowledge.
  • Request that delivery companies acquire a liquor license from the state, which holds them accountable if anything goes wrong.

The state of play: Major retailers like Hy-Vee, Fareway and Casey's have already shown their support for the bill.

What they're saying: Bill manager Rep. Mike Sexton (R-Fort Dodge) said he understands the restaurant association's concerns, but that additional contract requirements would hurt the bill's ability to pass.

  • He does support requiring third-party companies to acquire an alcohol delivery license and holding them liable for any mishaps.
  • "I don't blame [the association] for wanting to put in some liability protection for [restaurants] ... , but the more stuff we add — the heavier the bill gets," Sexton said.

This story has been updated with comments from Rep. Mike Sexton.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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