CLIPS: Mass. alcohol laws need massive rewrite, task force concludes
The price of beer, wine, and liquor in Massachusetts would increase, but unpopular restrictions on the sale of alcohol would go away, under a radical proposed overhaul of the state’s byzantine booze laws that’s expected to be unveiled by a government-appointed task force Thursday.
The proposals include increasing the state’s excise taxes on beer, wine, and liquor by about 50 percent and banning discounts for package stores and bars for buying bulk quantities from wholesalers.
If the measures are enacted, the companies could pass some or all of the new costs onto drinkers, while the state would reap tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue.
But the task force also recommends relaxing rules that annoy shoppers and businesses alike, saying that the state should abolish the limit on the number of alcohol licenses grocery store chains can hold, allow bars to accept out-of-state photo IDs, and permit brew pubs to sell beer through other retailers.
The group also proposed making it easier for business to obtain all-alcohol licenses while limiting the issuance of beer-and-wine-only permits. That could lead to more establishments that sell hard liquor, rather than just beer and wine.
While most of these measures would need approval from the Legislature, they nonetheless represent the most extensive official rethinking of alcohol rules in Massachusetts since many were put in place at the end of Prohibition in 1933.