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Malloy Wants To Uncork Price Regulations On Spirits

February 20th, 2017 · 10 Comments · News and Events, State Politics

liquor store

Malloy: lift regulations.

Opposed by the state liquor lobby in the past, Governor Dan Malloy has proposed a bill to lift liquor pricing regulations that prevents retailers from setting “the prices of the products that they put on the shelves in their own stores …” If we had a law that forced stores to sell bread for a price that was determined by state government, people would be screaming about capitalism and big government. But for some reason, we allow this anti-free market mandate to continue for this one particular industry–and we are in fact the only state in the nation that operates in this manner.”

News release from Malloy:

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has submitted a legislative proposal to the Connecticut General Assembly that will update an antiquated state law that currently forces the owners of certain retail stores to sell their products at artificial prices set by liquor wholesalers, resulting in unnecessarily high prices for consumers.

Connecticut is the only state in the country that has a law mandating that the retailers of alcoholic beverages sell their products at a minimum price above wholesale cost determined by the wholesaler industry. This means that–unlike everywhere else in the nation–these retailers cannot set the prices of the products that they put on the shelves in their own stores. As a result of this law, which the state adopted in 1981, the artificially determined prices typically end up being higher than the prices that these products sell for in nearly every other state in the country, forcing Connecticut residents to either pay more money or travel to a bordering state where the identical products are sold at a lower price.

“If we had a law that forced stores to sell bread for a price that was determined by state government, people would be screaming about capitalism and big government. But for some reason, we allow this anti-free market mandate to continue for this one particular industry–and we are in fact the only state in the nation that operates in this manner,” Governor Malloy said. “Because of this law, business owners have fewer rights in determining the operations of their businesses, and consumers are forced to pay artificially inflated, high prices for products that are sold at a substantially lower price nearly everywhere else. Let the businesses determine the prices for these products, not the government.”

As an example of how Connecticut consumers are forced to pay higher prices because of this law, the Governor pointed to an advertisement that a Massachusetts chain of retail stores paid to have published in the December 18, 2016 edition of the Hartford Courant targeting Connecticut residents and encouraging them to drive over the state border where they can buy products at significantly lower prices. The advertisement includes an extensive list of products and compares how much they cost at Massachusetts stores to how much the identical products are legally mandated to cost within the State of Connecticut.

Under the legislation Governor Malloy introduced, the existing law would be modified to allow small business owners to sell wine and liquor using a more reasonable, logical criteria: actual cost paid. This is the standard used in each of Connecticut’s neighboring states and nearly everywhere else throughout the country, where many small package stores continue to thrive.

The Governor’s legislation is Senate Bill 789An Act Concerning the Regional Competitiveness of Connecticut’s Alcoholic Liquor Prices. It has been referred to the legislature’s General Law Committee, where it is currently pending for consideration by lawmakers.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    If Dannel, aka Dan during election years, really wanted to lower prices he should cut the bottle sin tax imposed by Connecticut. He must be suffering from a yeast infection because his bread analogy is lacking logical dough.

  • Jeff Kohut

    While we’re on different sides of this issue, Grin, I have to agree with you about Dan’s analogy weakness. Comparing alcohol to bread, in any context, just doesn’t generate connections.

    Alcohol is a drug, and its consumption can possibly be medicinal, in appropriate cases, but it is generally consumed in a celebratory manner, and far too often as a dangerous, destructive vice. There are lots of laws governing behavior related to alcohol consumption, “not for nothin’.”

    In any event, alcohol is generally consumed in the context of being a luxury and/or in the course of dangerous, addictive behavior; it’s not a “food stamps” item. Therefore, it should be taxed and regulated in a manner consistent with modifying consumption. Really, if one notes at least 10% of state budgets go to addressing alcohol-abuse effects, the tax on alcohol is way too low, and should be adjusted to account for the 10% of the budget it costs the state. The price of alcohol needs to remain at mandated “luxury/vice” levels, and taxes on alcohol need to be adjusted to account for the effects on state budgets. Not many people who consume alcohol in a reasonable manner are going to run to MA, RI, or NY for a drink or to stock up, not with the price and traffic being what it is. Raising alcohol prices/taxes can only help the state economy. Again, Dan Malloy’s dyslexic approach to the state economy can be described as “having it backwards.”

    And how much did the liquor lobby contribute to Dan and Company’s fundraisers over the years/recently? How about the GA and Congressional races in CT? Another case of “follow the money,” Ron Mackey.

  • Frank Gyure

    I think something is going on behind the scenes. We can discuss the pros and cons of the effects of alcohol upon society (IMHO, based on personal experience, the costs are HUGE). This is a battle between the lobbies of the big box stores, large grocery chains versus the individual liquor stores. If the price level laws are changed so “anything goes,” the big box stores and grocery chains will wipe out the independents and, in a couple of years, you will be only left with the big box/grocery stores and, with no competition, they will be able to charge anything they want. This may seem like a simple issue, but in the long term may cost Connecticut purchasers of liquor big bucks. It’s almost like the electrical power de-regulation we were promised. You can select and choose between your suppliers but UI maintains the “hard goods,” the wires etc. The result is we pay among the highest, if not the highest, electrical rates on the continental U.S. I repeat; this is a battle between the big box/grocery store lobbyists and the independent liquor store lobbyists. Contact your GA rep and see where they stand on this position now.

  • Frank Gyure

    Does anyone know the best FB page or best way to contact Senator Marilyn Moore? Truthfully, I’ve always had difficulty getting in touch with her.

  • Ron Mackey

    Contact Senator Moore at 860-240-0425 or Toll free 1-800-842-1420. Press Aide Juliemar Ortiz: 860-240-8671.

  • Mojo

    Why not, the state’s in such a red state of debt, might as well keep liquor prices lower so taxpayers can drink their troubles away.

  • Nick Novia

    It has been my experience traveling around New England and the state of New York, that prices for alcohol are cheaper in Connecticut. I’m not so proud to say I frequent the liquor stores while away from home, but I do seek out lower prices for what I like to consume. I have not found cheaper whiskey anywhere. New Hampshire, where my family used to go years ago to find cheaper prices, is much higher than CT. Massachusetts, even higher than NH. I’m not sure what flyers the Governor is quoting, but let’s see ‘em. Maybe it’s a quick sale, or some other anomaly, but normally we save money by staying home. The Governor is full of “Sh … aving cream! This will serve the 1%-ers only, and many small neighborhood stores will end up closing.

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