Alcohol formula

Voter’s Guide to the 2022 Massachusetts Elections: Alcohol Sales Question 3

The ballot measure also includes three additional rule changes: It would require retailers to accept out-of-state driver’s licenses for age verification, ban the sale of alcohol through vending machines tickets and to change the formula for calculating fines for stores that sell to minors or intoxicated people so that it is based on all retail sales, including food and gasoline, and not just alcohol sales.

One vote yes double the number of licenses a company has to sell beer or wine; lower the cap on all-alcohol licenses; requiring retailers to accept out-of-state driver’s licenses; prohibit self-service alcohol sales; and change the way fines are calculated.

A no would not make any changes to existing liquor retail laws.

Who supports each side?

The ballot measure is the latest round in a long battle between small independent liquor stores and large retail chains over who should be allowed to sell alcohol at what volume. In 2011, the two sides crafted a compromise in the state legislature that gradually raised the liquor license limit from three to nine.

Then in 2019, convenience store chain Cumberland Farms announced plans for a ballot measure that would lift the liquor license cap entirely for grocery stores, an effort derailed by the pandemic but largely set to resurface this year. .

Before that happened, the Massachusetts Package Stores Association defensively offered a compromise in the form of question 3. If the ballot measure is approved and Cumberland Farms or another major retailer again attempts to increase alcohol sales with another voting question, MassPack could file a legal challenge, arguing that six years must pass before voters are asked to vote on a voting question that is substantially the same.

Cumberland Farms has not been active in opposing Question 3, but retail giant Total Wine & More has funded a campaign to oppose it.

What are the supporters saying?

MassPack argues that this ballot measure would increase convenience for alcohol consumers, as retailers will be able to apply for additional licenses for their existing locations that do not currently sell alcohol or for any new locations.

The group also says Question 3 could help curb illegal liquor sales by banning the use of self-checkout machines and basing fines for selling to minors on a store’s total sales rather than just liquor sales. alcohol, and that accepting out-of-state driver’s licenses would bring Massachusetts into line with other states.

What are the opponents saying?

Total Wine argued that the ballot issue was an attempt to stifle competition.

Food Stores for Consumer Choice, representing the retailers, said in written submissions that Question 3 was not the answer to a complex issue regarding liquor licensing.

“Despite some superficially popular provisions designed to lure voters, it fails to lift outdated restrictions on local decision-making, while rolling back Massachusetts in several important ways,” the group wrote.

He opposed changing the way fines are calculated, saying it penalizes stores that sell more than alcohol and opposed banning “convenient and reliable” self-payment technologies.

Further reading

Liquor store giant Total Wine enters the fray on Issue 3

The packie vs. grocer fight returns, with a twist

Early Voting in Massachusetts: What You Need to Know


Sahar Fatima can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sahar_fatima.