Alcohol Regulation Roundup: Turkey Day Edition

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches many hosts and hostesses are scratching their heads about what drinks to pair with their meal items. The Washington Post has a great interview with the District’s own “beer wonder” Greg Engert on how to pair beer with your meal. If you live outside of the Midatlantic though, many of his beer recommendations may not be in your local shop. This is another reason to advocate for an end to the mandatory three-tier system and allow producers to distribute their beer, wine, and liquor on their own.

Colorado: Coloradans are wondering if the recent vote in Washington State that ends the state monopoly on liquor distribution could spread to their state.

Georgia: The modern age slowly comes to Georgie. After voting to end the many decade’s long ban on Sunday alcohol sales, some counties are antsy to see sales actually begin.

Maryland: While the federal ban on alcohol sales ended in 1933, not much has changed in Damascus — the last dry town in Montgomery County, Maryland. However, state legislators are reported planning to introduce a bill in January that would allow residents to vote whether or not to keep the ban at the next election. The change would allow the sale of bee and table wine in restaurants. Well, it’s not much, but it’s something I guess.

Massachusetts: A bill approved by both the state House and Senate would allow Massachusetts food stores sell beer and wine at more of their locations. The bill was intended to replace a proposed ballot measure that would have allowed voters to decide if their town should have the right to offer licenses to more food stores. Of course, the current holders of licenses, fearing competition, would rather increase the number of licenses they can have among their chain stores rather than allowing other companies to get into the game.

Also in Massachusetts: An Alderman in Beacon Hill is pushing a proposal to repeal the city’s self-imposed liquor license cap. If it passes the city would have an unlimited number of beer, wine and liquor licenses to give to bars and restaurants like some surrounding cities. The hope is that the proposal will stimulate the city’s economy.

Minnesota: Excelsior Brewing Company seeks a license to open a brewer taproom in Excelsior. Their request follows a new state law that allows breweries to sell their beer on site. Currently, the city does not permit a liquor license without a restaurant. The new ordinance would allow for the on site sell of liquor without a restaurant.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma addresses strong beer and wine in grocery stores. Such a change would require the state to amend its constitution. Liquor stores in the state oppose measures that would allow the sales of strong beer in  grocery stores, claiming to worry about public safety. Obviously, they are more worried about the new competition in the market — as they ought to be. But the solution isn’t to continue protecting them from competition. Rather, Oklahoma should look to easing laws on liquor stores that prevent them from carrying groceries if they want to “even the playing field.”

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania seems to be moving closer to doing away with state-run liquor stores. In October Rep. Jerry Knowles introduced House Bill 2020, the Infrastructure Future Fund Act (I.F.F. Act) which earmarks money made off the sale of the state’s liquor stores to fund road and bridge projects. The proposal is gaining support among lawmakers, signaling increased acceptance of the imminent end of the state-run liquor system.

Utah: Lawmakers are planning to discuss a proposal to privatize the state-run liquor stores as well as hearing recommendations for improving alcohol laws. Among the recommendations expected to be offered by a state-contracted research company are to allow grocery stores to operate privately owned liquor and wine outlets, as well as giving state stores more flexibility on hours.