Virginia lawmakers have (yet another) opportunity to fix state's backwards booze laws


Virginia's antiquated distilling laws are a topic of frequent conversation around these parts, and R Street's Jarrett Dieterle has written about Virginia numerous times (see here and here, for example). The Virginia legislature now has its best opportunity in years to start reforming its backwards system, and Jarrett took to the pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to argue that it's far past time for state lawmakers to finally deliver:

"Virginia is one of 13 'control states' at the retail level, meaning that a government entity — in Virginia, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) — is in charge of all sales of hard spirits in the state.

The Virginia ABC has become notorious for its outdated regulatory model, and any honest survey of the legal obstacles Virginia distillers face shows why.

Despite this oppressive legal regime, prior reform efforts have mostly failed to make it through the state legislature. Now, lawmakers in Richmond have their best opportunity in years to pass meaningful reform — if only they can find the courage to follow through...

ABC imposes a jaw-dropping 69 percent markup on every bottle of hard spirits sold in the state, in addition to the state’s 20 percent excise tax on liquor. When taxes and the state-imposed markup are added together, distilleries receive only 46 percent of the purchase price of every bottle of booze they sell. This gives Virginia the third-highest effective tax rate on hard spirits in the nation....

This session, the Virginia legislature has considered numerous reform bills that would overhaul the state’s backward booze system. While most failed to gain traction, at least one bill now has a shot at passage. SB 803, which would allow distilleries to keep the markup money from on-premise liquor sales, recently cleared the state Senate. The ball is now in the House of Delagates’ court to decide whether to take up the Senate legislation..."

Read the whole piece here.