Bill allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas headed to Senate for final OK; Posting low health scores on drive-thru menus ready for House consideration

Legislation to allow pet dogs in outdoor dining areas is ready for final consideration in the Senate.

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved HB235 by Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette, sending it to the full Senate. The Alabama House approved the bill Feb. 25. “The bill is permissive, not mandatory,” McMillan told the committee.

It sets 10 conditions under which dogs would be allowed in an outdoor dining space, including if the restaurant owner allows it, there is an entrance to the outdoor area that doesn’t require going through the restaurant to get to it and the dog is on a leash or in a pet carrier.

The bill also requires a “prominent sign” that the outdoor dining area is open to use by patrons with pet dogs. McMillan and other proponents said carrying pet dogs to eating establishments has become a lifestyle choice that many are already making without a state law to regulate it. “It also is timely as so many people are dining outside” due to COVID-19 concerns, McMillan said.

This legislation does not alter state law that allows service dogs and law enforcement dogs inside food service establishments.

Health Scores on Drive-Thru Menus
The House Health Committee on Feb. 24 approved legislation requiring restaurants with food inspection scores below an 85 to post their rating on their drive-thru menus. It awaits consideration by the full House.

HB29 by Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, also requires prompt updating when low health scores are issued.

Most drive-thru patrons don’t come inside and have no idea of the score,” Estes told the committee. “If a restaurant has a score of 85 or above, this bill has no bearing on them. It will impact a small number of businesses.”

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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