Alcohol Regulatory Roundup: December 20, 2010

While most lawmakers have checked out for the holiday vacation already (mentally and/or physically), there are still some movers and shakers out there getting frothed up about alcohol issues. Here are few stories and updates on booze regulations and regulators around the nation:

District of Columbia: Charles Brodsky, the Chairman of the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, is in hot water over a possible conflict of interest between his for-profit business (promoting sporting events) and his duties as Chairman of ABRA.

“It’s an abuse of power,” said Don Dinan, general counsel to the D.C. Democratic State Committee.  “It creates a direct conflict of interest if a person in an extremely powerful position over the fate of the neighborhood represented by an ANC, especially ANC 2E in Georgetown where liquor licenses are a key component in the quality of life in that neighborhood, to ask the ANC to endorse something that benefits him privately. That’s an outrage.”

Maryland: Corkage is getting a step closer to reality. At the Thursday night meeting of the Maryland House of Delegates, a bill was proposed for Prince George’s County and Montgomery county restaurants that would let  patrons bring in their own bottles of wine.

Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly is sponsoring the Prince George’s County version, and said the proposal is a “modest” way of aiding local restaurant owners, many of whom saw a decline in business during the economic downturn. The bill would only apply to restaurants that hold liquor licenses.

North Carolina: As I reported last week, NC’s gov is considering privatizing that state-run liquor stores and (surprise!) the liquor control boards in the state aren’t happy. In a letter to legislators the NC Association of ABC Boards Jon Carr, a lobbyist for the boards said

“North Carolina ranks 3rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in revenue per capita from the sale of spirits and 48th in per capita consumption. North Carolina’s control system for the sale of spirits works…”

Does it work? Well, I guess if your goal is to limit access and increases prices consumers pay, then it is working. But I wonder if that’s how North Carolinians see it.

Nebraska: The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission is seeking a ban on bar games that encourage “chugging and intoxication,” as part of a larger proposal restricting bar promotions.

“The rules being considered might even put a crimp on a popular annual fundraiser in Omaha and Lincoln called the “Barstool Open,” which raised $70,000 earlier this year for United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska.”

Pennsylvania: Privatization of the government-owned liquor stores is on the table and a new poll suggests that Keystone Staters favor the idea.