Go to www.foodstoresma.org. You won’t find anything. Nor will you if you check the bank account of Food Stores for Consumer Choice, the voting committee formed to oppose Question 3.
Indeed, after losing a Supreme Court judicial case in which companies including Cumberland Farms sought to have Question 3 disqualified from the ballot, the stores are not fighting the passage of the question which will redefine the rules for sale and licensing of liquor in Massachusetts.
Question 3 proposes to increase the combined number of licenses a retailer can hold for the sale of all alcoholic beverages and beer and wine from nine to 18 by 2031, but will reduce the license cap for the sale of all alcoholic beverages from nine to seven. It will also ban self-checking of alcoholic beverages, make out-of-state licenses an acceptable form of identification for the purchase of alcohol, and change the calculation formula fines for selling to minors (which grocery stores oppose).
The question has been proposed and is supported by independent parcel shops. It was presented as a compromise with grocery stores to avoid a fight over simply lifting the licensing cap.
While Cumberland Farms and other chains didn’t necessarily see it that way, Louis Rizoli — former House counsel and president and advocate for Grocery Stores for Consumer Choice — said there would be no no last-minute injection of corporate cash to fight the measure.
“There is no coordinated opposition to this electoral issue,” Rizoli said. “Some grocery stores like some provisions of question three and oppose others.”
A statement of opposition was printed in the ‘Voter Information’ guide mailed to households, but Rizoli said grocery stores like Cumberland Farms and Stop & Shop are ‘more interested in getting a separate license. “, which was proposed in a bill (H 318) this session and will be introduced again next year.
In 2020, Cumberland Farms pursued a ballot question that proposed creating a new grocery store license for the sale of liquor and ultimately lifting all licensing caps, but ultimately dropped its campaign amid the pandemic and chose to fight for a legislative solution this cycle instead.
This bill has not gained traction with lawmakers as an alternative to the ballot issue, but depending on what happens in November, a new bill cycle begins in January.
Meanwhile, the 21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee has raised $823,450 over the past two years to support its ballot measure, mostly from the Massachusetts Package Store Association, and has spent $723,565 making its case to the public. voters. In his Sept. 20 report to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, he said he had $99,884 left in the bank.
Probably more than enough when no one is spending to fight you on the other side.