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Gov. mulls legalizing beer, wine deliveries

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A bill that would allow beer and wine to be delivered with food orders to homes and hotel rooms is awaiting final approval from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, four years after a similar proposal was vetoed by New Mexico’s former governor.

This year’s measure, Senate Bill 494, was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature during the just-completed 60-day session.

It would allow for only a limited amount of booze – no more than two six-packs of beer or two bottles of wine – to be delivered by licensed vendors and would require alcohol server training for those making deliveries.

“The thought is that it would make it less likely for someone who has already had a few glasses of wine to go out (driving) to get another bottle,” said Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor.

In addition to possibly reducing drunken-driving incidents, backers say, the proposed law could also help New Mexico’s tourism industry.

Justin Greene, the founder of Dashing Delivery, a Santa Fe-based food delivery service, said at least 22 other states have similar laws on their books.

He said the New Mexico proposal has been modified and improved over the past several years, by adding a provision that would use mobile technology to verify a buyer’s identity and location, along with other changes.

“Technology has come a long way in four years,” Greene told the Journal.

After vetoing the 2015 bill, then-Gov. Susana Martinez wrote in her veto message that year’s proposal lacked public safety safeguards, including ways to ensure beer and wine was not delivered to minors or already intoxicated individuals.

Under both this year’s legislation and the 2015 version, any beer or wine delivery order – hard liquor drinks are excluded from the bill – would have to be accompanied by at least a $20 food order. Beer and wine could be delivered only to houses or hotel rooms. Deliveries to public places and other types of businesses would be prohibited.

New Mexico cities and counties would have to authorize beer and wine deliveries in their jurisdictions, meaning some locations could remain off-limits.

“If you’re a dry city in eastern New Mexico, you can stay a dry city,” said Greene, who has been a driving force behind the legislation.

But despite winning approval in the House and Senate this year with only a combined 12 “no” votes, there’s no guarantee this year’s bill will be signed into law by Lujan Grisham.

Ortiz y Pino said Tuesday that he has been told that officials in the state Alcohol and Gaming Division have concerns that the legislation could create new de facto beer and wine suppliers, though he said that was not the intent of the bill’s backers.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who took office in January, has until April 5 to decide whether to sign or veto the measure – along with roughly 240 other bills. If the bill is not acted upon by that deadline, it is automatically vetoed.

The Governor’s Office did not respond Tuesday to questions about the legislation.

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