Senate passes bills on alcohol delivery, automated delivery robots

By: - April 21, 2021 6:04 pm

Retailers would be allowed to use third-party services to deliver alcohol to customers under a bill headed to the governor’s desk. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

Homebound partiers may soon be able to get drinks delivered straight to their doors under a bill passed Wednesday by the Iowa Senate.

Iowans also may start seeing robots delivering other types of packages under a separate bill moving through the Legislature.

The Senate voted 39-7 to allow third-party delivery companies like UberEats, GrubHub or Doordash to deliver liquor, wine or beer.

Under the bill, House File 766, the retailer — be it a grocery store, a restaurant or bar — must enter a written contract with the delivery company before offering alcohol delivery.

Jessica Dunker, president of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said that bill was “step one” in what she hopes will be a series of bills to regulate third-party delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic, she said, accelerated the adoption of contact-free and delivery options for Iowa restaurants.

“We know we need a regulatory framework that addresses everything from liability to food safety, but we also know that rushing legislation or regulation is imprudent,” Dunker wrote in an email to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

With its passage, the bill heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds for consideration.

Looking ahead: Self-driving delivery robot bill passes

The Senate also passed House File 304, a bill to allow “personal delivery devices” with automated driving technology. Amazon, FedEx and other retailers have developed self-driving carts that would be capable of navigating sidewalks and delivering packages without the aid of a delivery person.

The Senate voted unanimously to pass an amended version of the House proposal, sending it back to the House. The bill outlines what laws would be applicable if the device hurt a pedestrian, clarifies that local authorities can ban the devices if they interfere with public safety, and sets a speed limits for a device operating on sidewalks.

The Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana lawmakers passed a similar bill in early April to allow the delivery devices to operate in the state with restrictions.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.