Mass. Retailers Against Ballot Question On Alcohol Licensing

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Retailers are coming out against an overhaul of alcohol licensing rules that could reach the November ballot, while saying they support reforms designed to expand alcohol license caps and give consumers more options.

According to the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the initiative petition (H 4377) proposed by the package store industry takes an "imbalanced and discriminatory approach" to expansion of retail licenses.

The association, which represents about 4,000 member companies, said the proposal's approach to licensing expansion would marks a retreat from a current law capping the number of all alcoholic beverage licenses held by a single entity at nine. And a provision in the proposal updating the fine structure for violations is a "blatant attempt to stifle competition" for licenses from businesses with more expansive product offerings, the association said.

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"Based on the various proposals considered by the committee this session, it is clear that alcohol license expansion is a goal shared across the industry by the various interested stakeholders. Unfortunately, this proposal attempts to achieve expansion in an unbalanced and discriminatory manner," RAM General Counsel Ryan Kearney said in written testimony being provided to a legislative committee. "Somewhere between the various proposals is a reasonable middle ground that should at the least be considered in an effort to bring about a more equitable result."

Written by Michael Norton / SHNS

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