Alcohol formula

Massachusetts votes no on Ballot Question 3 (alcohol licenses), AP says

Massachusetts citizens voted no to Question 3 of the ballot, rejecting an effort to double the combined number of licenses for supermarkets and convenience stores selling alcoholic beverages from nine to 18.

The Associated Press announced the result around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Ballot question 3 would have gradually raised the liquor license threshold for retailers, initially from nine to 12 licenses in 2023 and 15 licenses in 2027. The threshold of available licenses was to eventually increase to 18 by 2031.

The vote would also have limited the number of hard liquor or ‘all alcoholic beverages’ licenses a retailer could own to seven, unless the business already has more, and will prevent the sale of liquor. at self-checkouts and will require retailers to accept out-of-state identification from customers.

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The ballot issue, which does not change restaurants and bars, “would have a real but limited impact on the landscape of liquor sales in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from Jonathan M. Tisch’s Center for State Policy Analysis. from Tufts University. Civic College College.

“Very few chains even approach the current limit of nine licenses, including household names like Cumberland Farms and Ocean State Job Lot. This may suggest limited demand (or capacity) to accumulate more licenses,” the report states. “Capping the number of liquor licenses at seven should have an equally limited impact, because again, very few liquor stores are currently pushing against this limit.”

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The report, which took a neutral stance on question 3 of the ballot as a whole, noted that cities and towns in Massachusetts would still have the power to limit the volume of liquor licenses in their individual jurisdictions. This, in effect, may complicate retail chains’ efforts to secure more beer and wine licenses, the report notes.

Supermarkets and convenience stores would be disproportionately affected by the referendum fee structure for “fines in lieu of suspension,” the report claims.

The fine calculation would be based on all expected benefits, not just alcohol. A fine imposed on a supermarket for selling beer to a minor “could eclipse the cost of suspending beer and wine sales, making it difficult for retailers to choose the ‘fine instead of suspension’ option. that liquor stores would always have,” the report states.

Yet the pricing formula would make no difference to liquor stores, which only sell liquor and not general merchandise.

“One of the virtues of this approach is that it provides a strong incentive for retailers to avoid license violations and simply follow the rules,” the report continues. “But it also seems to raise potential issues of fairness.”

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“Hopes for a lasting solution rest primarily with the legislature, but licensing reform is both a relatively low priority and an extremely thorny issue – involving competing interest groups and delicate interactions between state and municipal authorities,” the report said.

The 21st Century Alcohol Reform Committee, which backs the ballot issue, argues the fines system and banning self-checkouts will improve public safety and encourage retailer ‘vigilance’, according to a voter’s guide published by the office of Secretary of State Bill Galvin. The out-of-state driver’s license provision could also boost state tourism, the committee said.

“A YES vote addresses consumers’ desire for convenience in a reasonable and balanced way that also protects against illegal sales,” the committee wrote in the voter’s guide.

Food Stores for Consumer Choice, which opposes the ballot issue, says instead that Massachusetts needs comprehensive reform — not an “incomplete solution to a complex problem.” The referendum will impose “unfair” sanctions on grocers and other grocery stores, the group also warns.

“This flawed approach favors vested interests in the alcohol industry, to the detriment of cash-strapped consumers and their favorite local retailers,” the committee wrote in the voter guide. “We deserve more.”