Instead of getting rid of Virginia’s liquor ratio rule, senators have plans to change it

Instead of getting rid of Virginia’s liquor ratio rule, senators have plans to change it
The Senate’s Subcommittee on Alcoholic Beverage Control had drafted legislation that would exempt restaurants from the ratio rule if they sell more than $500,000 in food, along with some other changes.

Virginia’s liquor ratio law will stay in place for at least one more year.

The Senate’s Subcommittee on Alcoholic Beverage Control decided to scrap an idea that would have gotten rid of the ratio for restaurants that make $500,000 or more in food sales.

“It seemed like a lot of people in the industry had some opposition to this measure,” Division of Legislative Services attorney David May told the subcommittee Friday. “It wasn’t the amount. They couldn’t come to an agreement, period.”

Virginia’s ratio law has been in place since 1968 and bans bars in the state by requiring 45 percent of a business’s annual sales come from food and the remaining 55 percent from alcohol (which doesn’t include beer and wine).

Lawmakers, like Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, who chairs the Senate ABC subcommittee, have tried for years to alter the ratio rule. And although this won’t be the year it goes away, the subcommittee did move two bills that will loosen liquor laws in the state.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.