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US Liquor laws

Old 04-23-13, 05:41 PM
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US Liquor laws

One area where California leads the country is with their liquor laws. So long as you are 21, you can buy what you want wherever you want from 6AM to 2AM.

Pennsylvania and TN seems to be among of the worse, but it looks like a movement is afoot to privatize state run liquor stores

Texas is getting better, more and more counties are permitting liquor sales (either everything or just beer and wine)



Legislators in Pennsylvania and Tennessee may do the unthinkable during their respective 2013-2014 sessions: loosen their stranglehold on alcohol sales.

"Pennsylvania maintains one of the tightest, most restrictive liquor-control systems in America,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The state’s Liquor Control Board sets prices and store hours, polices distribution, and caps the number of stores.

But that could change this year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett recommended privatizing liquor stores in his 2013-2014 budget proposal, and last month, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill for the first time ever that would transfer the ownership of state-run liquor stores to private entities over a period of time. According to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, the measure faces stronger opposition in the upper chamber before it makes it to the Corbett's desk. The competing Senate bill, which seeks to “modernize” the existing model, does little more than tinker around the edges of the existing state-owned system.

Every Pennsylvania Democrat and five Republicans voted against the House measure. Many Democrats opposed the bill because the sale of state-owned liquor stores would eliminate positions within state government. Statistics available at the Pennsylvania Office of Administration reveal the number of state employees has dropped by more than 2,000 since Corbett took office in 2011.

“Voters want full privatization; they want convenience,” says Nate Benefield, Director of Policy Analysis for the free-market Commonwealth Foundation. Benefield suggested that the only groups opposed to privatization are state employees and alcohol distributors. David Taylor, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, said, “Getting Pennsylvania out of the booze business will send a message that positive change is possible in Harrisburg and that even the most entrenched self-serving interests cannot thwart the public will forever.”

The argument against privatization goes something like this: “Eighty to 90 percent of our income comes from beer sales. How are we going to be making a living if everyone has it?” That's a quote from Mark Tanczos, president of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania. As Tanczos demonstrates, the resistance to liquor store privatization boils down to pure protectionism.

That's a less than compelling argument in the eyes of Pennsylvania voters. A poll taken by nationally-recognized pollster Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz, and Associates in January revealed that Republicans and Independents support privatization by a more than two-to-one margin, while Democrats support it by 52%-43%. While Senate leaders don't seem to be in a rush to get something to Gov. Corbett, liquor privatization in Pennsylvania seems to be a matter of "when," not "if."

Booze reform in Tennessee

In Tennessee, consumers may buy wine and liquor at privately-owned retailers, but a push to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores has gained steam over the last few years. An organization made up of more than 28,000 Tennesseans called Red, White & Food is leading the charge in Nashville. This isn't the first time Tennessee has considered opening the market to competition. State lawmakers have attempted to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores during previous legislative sessions, but have come up short. A renewed effort this session may make it to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, but it still faces several hurdles.

"This year, the legislation would’ve created the ability for local governments to hold referendums to allow grocery stores to sell wine," says Jarron Springer, President of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association, who is helping to push the legislation along in the General Assembly. (Currently, jurisdictions allow referendums for liquor-by-the-drink, package sales, and the establishment of distilleries. To get such a measure on the ballot, proponents must first garner enough signatures equal to 10% of the number of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election.)

Asked about the greatest hurdle to passing wine in grocery stores by the end of the 2014 session, Springer said, “It’s been a real challenge to get anyone from the [anti-wine in grocery stores] side to discuss this. Advocates want to bring opponents to the table to work through a compromise.”

Springer also notes that the issue goes much deeper than wine in grocery stores. The complex nature of Tennessee’s laws make it nearly impossible to alter one aspect of alcohol sales without disrupting another facet. The state governs how, when, and where wine and liquor may be sold, while localities decide how, when, and where beer may be sold. One proposed amendment to the Senate version would have expanded the hours of operation of liquor stores to include Sunday. Democrat Senator Doug Henry, who supports the sale of wine in grocery stores, does not support expanding the operating hours of liquor stores and would therefore not vote for an amended version of the original bill.

The proposed bill passed the Senate Finance, Ways & Means committee after an earlier attempt this session stalled the measure. Increased public pressure in recent years has brought wine in grocery stores closer to reality, and lawmakers may well find a solution by the end of this legislative session.

Other states are slowly moving toward liberalizing liquor laws. Washington recently privatized liquor sales by referendum, and Oregon may take the same path. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made the sale of state-owned ABC stores a priority in his 2009 campaign, but gridlock in the legislature halted that attempt for now. The trend, however, is in the direction of expanded consumer choice and reduced government interference. It’s just going to take more time.
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Old 04-23-13, 05:52 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

I'm against the PA plan simply because Corbett is only trying to deflect all the ill will he rightfully gained when he tried to sell the PA Lottery to a foreign company in a back room sweetheart deal.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:01 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by BearFan View Post
One area where California leads the country is with their liquor laws.
Another is their liquor taxes. I swear booze is cheaper than water there.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:13 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

As much as WA is a liberal state with legal marijuana, it was just a year ago that we finally got rid of state run liquor stores. And the only reason it passed this time is because they added even more tax to it.

For a comparison, in 2010 the tax per gallon of spirits was $26.45 (highest in the nation) while CA's tax was $3.30 for the same amount. The average in the US is $7.02 per gallon.

Not sure exactly how much it went up with the new law, but it was significant. Probably around a 10% increase.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:16 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
For a comparison, in 2010 the tax per gallon of spirits was $26.45 (highest in the nation) while CA's tax was $3.30 for the same amount. The average in the US is $7.02 per gallon.
Holy crap, that is insanely stupid.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:25 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Yeah. I drink Sailor Jerry Rum, and around here it is usually $49.95-$54.95 for a half gallon. When my parents come back from CA in the spring, they bring me 12 of them that they get for $19.99. We have guys that will take orders and run down to Nevada 1-2 times a year, and they will come back with several hundred bottles for various people.

Oregon is the second highest at around $24.xx per gallon, so there is no big advantage in hopping the border to get it. With the last tax hike, I'd get it there before I got it here, but I just stock up.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:30 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Why I love AZ. We love our booze here and are i think in the bottom 10 of taxes.

I am surprised Utah is not listed in that article. IME, they have the most fucked up liquor laws of all of them.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:39 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Utah is $11.41 per gallon of spirits. Hard to believe it is that low. Washingtonians would flock to Utah to buy cheap booze. Imagine that along ideological lines.
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Old 04-23-13, 06:43 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Texas, especially in Dallas is so night and day better than just two years ago.

And even better, the craft beer in D/FW is exploding. There must be a half dozen new breweries just in the last year or so. And producing some damn nice beers. And because of that and the obvious market, out of state small and craft beers are now being distributed here.

Yes, the hard stuff is still confined to certain areas, but meh, just not as big an issue to me.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:00 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Kansas has weird liquor laws too. You can't buy hard liquor or anything but 3.2 "near beer" in grocery stores here. You have to go to a liquor store. Fortunately we live right across the river from Missouri, and that's where we buy our hooch.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:40 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Kentucky is finally coming around. Several areas that used to be Dry are now Wet, more places allowing Sunday sales. Judge ruled KY not allowing Liquor to be sold in C-stores and Grocery was unconstitutional. Reason because you are supposed to have separate entrances but they gave exception to Drug Stores. Legislature tried to take care of their pals in the Liquor store biz and Beer distributors by axing Drug Stores but Retail groups fought and won.

Indiana has a dumb ass law that does not allow cold beer to be sold at a C-store. Crony Capitalism to the Liquor Stores.

I have always thought most alcohol regulation is useless and serves no purpose. Most of it seems to be Crony Capitalism in action.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:57 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Growing up in California and being here my whole life, I always thought it was just normal. Didn't realize taxes were so high elsewhere. Hell, I just thought it was bizarre that liquor stores weren't open on Sundays.
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Old 04-23-13, 08:04 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

"Dry" areas is just such a foreign concept to a Wisconsinite.

I enjoy buying my $10 1.75L bottle of cheap vodka at the same time as my fruits and veggies.

I'm with fumanstan, I had no idea until recently how crazy taxes were in other states. On my trips to Canada I was shocked at what it cost there, but never imagined it was actually worse in some states.
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Old 04-23-13, 08:10 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Are they laws in Pennsylvania still mind-numbing stupid?

I remember wanting to buy two cases of beer in PA once. I legally could not buy two cases. I could buy one case, walk outside and place the case on the other side of a line drawn on the sidewalk, then go back inside and buy a second case.
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Old 04-23-13, 08:13 PM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
Are they laws in Pennsylvania still mind-numbing stupid?

I remember wanting to buy two cases of beer in PA once. I legally could not buy two cases. I could buy one case, walk outside and place the case on the other side of a line drawn on the sidewalk, then go back inside and buy a second case.
And I thought KY laws were stupid.
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Old 04-24-13, 12:18 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by aktick View Post
I'm with fumanstan, I had no idea until recently how crazy taxes were in other states. On my trips to Canada I was shocked at what it cost there, but never imagined it was actually worse in some states.
I think WA just has a weird history with it. We are a liberal state and always have been, but we actually banned alcohol from the entire state a year before prohibition. I tend to think that it is just an example of "we're doing what is best for you" type stuff.
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Old 04-24-13, 06:15 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Seems crazy now but in the 1970s the drinking age in Iowa was 18. For everything. My senior year of high school, everyday after school we would go to the bar, drink Jack Daniels and play pool. At home I had my own beer in my parent's fridge while in high school.
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Old 04-24-13, 06:52 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by BKenn01 View Post
And I thought KY laws were stupid.
I grew up in KY, but within ten miles of both OH and WV. Nothing like being acutely aware of how weird and stupid were three different states' way of handling the selling of booze.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:13 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Delaware's liquor stores used to be closed on Sundays. My father used to drive to Maryland to buy booze on Sundays.

Of course, he's a alcoholic, so.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:17 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
Seems crazy now but in the 1970s the drinking age in Iowa was 18. For everything. My senior year of high school, everyday after school we would go to the bar, drink Jack Daniels and play pool. At home I had my own beer in my parent's fridge while in high school.
It was 18 in NY when I was kid. They changed it to 19 in 1982 then to 21 when forced by the feds. However a parent was able to give alcohol to those of their kids that were underage.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:23 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by arminius View Post
It was 18 in NY when I was kid. They changed it to 19 in 1982 then to 21 when forced by the feds. However a parent was able to give alcohol to those of their kids that were underage.
Now NYC is trying to up the age to buy cigarettes to 21. It's already 19 in some parts of the state.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:24 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

I remember in Texas when you had to go down to the river to get booze.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:39 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
I remember in Texas when you had to go down to the river to get booze.
Yeah, Prohibition was a real bitch.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:56 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Texas not only had state liquor laws - they had county & local liquor laws.

But, one good thing, they've never had a sales tax on food. That's a good thing to say about the state.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:59 AM
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Re: US Liquor laws

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
As much as WA is a liberal state with legal marijuana, it was just a year ago that we finally got rid of state run liquor stores.
I don't consider state-run liquor stores to be contrary to a liberal agenda.
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