A bill that would have increased licensing for third-party delivery companies in Oregon that include alcoholic beverages in their orders has been killed in legislative committee.
House Bill 4117 would have required drivers for companies such as PostMates and UberEats to be permitted similar to bartenders or servers at restaurants, and thus make them accountable to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
While home delivery of alcohol is already permitted in Oregon, delivery drivers are unlicensed, which means that violations—such as over-serving or serving minors—cannot be punished by the OLCC.
Opponents of the bill, however, argued that the increased regulation would have made home delivery of alcohol more prevalent—it is highly rare to find beer and wine on apps such as UberEats currently—thus making it easier for recovering addicts and minors to access alcohol.
Advocates for the recovery community are touting the decision as a victory over the Oregon beer lobby.
"I'm not saying we crushed them," says Mike Marshall, executive director of Oregon Recovers, an organization dedicated to increasing the political power of those in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, "but we put a chink in their armor."
Marshall says Oregon Recovers and other groups have been mobilizing against HB 4117 for a month.
On Feb. 12, the day the bill was going to a vote, 300 recovery community advocates gathered in Salem to convince lawmakers to vote against it. Being faced with their constituents, Marshall says, convinced the House of Representatives Economic Development Committee to kill the bill.
Proponents of HB 4117 say the increased regulations would have increased the responsible consumption and distribution of alcohol in Oregon.
"It was baffling to us why would want it killed," says Danelle Romain, a lobbyist for the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Tigard). Doherty's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Marshall says that, due to the lobbying efforts of major beer distributors such as Anheuser-Busch, Oregon's beer tax has remained among the lowest in the country. Meanwhile, according to one study, Oregon has the third highest addiction rate in the nation, while ranking near the bottom in access to treatment.
He sees the defeat of this bill is one small step toward improving those numbers.
"There are many miles still to travel," Marshall says. "We'll lose more battles than we'll win. But this demonstrates to legislators there we have some muscle in our efforts to reform the system."
Correction: This post has been updated to better reflect the regulations outlined in HB 4117.