Let all S.C. liquor stores compete on the same level

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle weighed in on a recent South Carolina supreme court case, which held that a law limiting the number of liquor retail stores a single owner could operate within the state was unconstitutional. The article originally appeared in the Post & Courier:

Until very recently, South Carolina liquor store owners were only allowed to operate up to three retail outlets in the Palmetto State. The decades-old cap was struck down late last month by the state Supreme Court as unconstitutional, on grounds the law was arbitrary and motivated solely by economic protectionism.

While the state’s incumbent liquor stores have been quick to condemn the decision, South Carolinians should embrace the court’s holding and resist attempts to reinstate the cap in a slightly altered form.

Read the whole thing at: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/let-all-s-c-liquor-stores-compete-on-the-same-level/

DrinksReform.org previously covered this South Carolina case here and here.

How cronyism threatens Louisiana’s craft breweries

In a state known for live music, drinking, and delicious food, Louisiana's new craft brewery regulations manage to threaten all three. Kevin Boyd writes for R Street about how the Pelican State's cronyism is hurting its breweries: 

"Louisiana is well-known its love of both food and alcohol. The state is a tourist destination for those looking both to enjoy excellent dining and to have a good time. Louisiana’s love affair with food has made its cuisine well-known worldwide. Meanwhile, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival has few rivals around the world.

Meanwhile, across the country, craft-beer breweries and so-called “gastropubs” have been growing. The craft-beer revolution proceeded at a slower pace in Louisiana, with Abita as one of the few local craft beers to gain national exposure. Much of the reason for this disparity is the hostility the state has shown to brewers, which is in line with its profile generally as a terrible state in which to do business, thanks to its high taxes and crippling regulations..."

Read more at: http://www.rstreet.org/2017/04/17/how-cronyism-threatens-louisianas-craft-breweries/

Dieterle talks Virginia distilling regs on Freedom and Prosperity Radio

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle was recently interviewed on Virginia's Freedom & Prosperity Radio:

R Street Governance Policy Fellow C. Jarrett Dieterle joined host Joe Thomas on Virginia’s Freedom and Prosperity Radio — sponsored by the Virginia Public Policy Institute — to discuss his recent piece in the American Spectator about Virginia distilling regulations. 

Listen to the whole interview at: http://www.rstreet.org/2017/03/29/dieterle-talks-virginia-distilling-regs-on-freedom-and-prosperity-radio/

Tear Down the Wall and Let the Free Market In

R Street's Christian Cámara writes in the Sunshine State News:

ABC Fine Wine & Liquors, Florida’s largest alcohol retail chain, struck a deal last year with a mobile app service to start offering one-hour alcohol delivery with the click of a smartphone. 

Announcing the new partnership, ABC CEO Charles Bailes III declared: “Convenience is everything … we are providing our guests multiple options for delivery. Everyone has different needs and preferences, and we want to ensure our guests will have an option that is compatible with their lifestyle.”
I agree with him wholeheartedly. So long as this innovative method to sell alcohol to willing consumers is done legally, responsibly and includes safeguards against sales to minors, then I say “cheers!”
Ironically, however, ABC is among the loudest voices opposing a sensible, bipartisan bill in Tallahassee that would allow grocers and other big-box retailers to sell liquor in the same store as food, beer, wine and other goods...

Read more at: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/tear-down-wall-and-let-free-market


Testimony on Florida alcohol separation law

R Street's Christian Cámara recently testified on Florida's alcohol separation law:

My name is Christian Cámara. I am the Southeast Region director for the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan, public-policy research organization, or “think tank,” based in Washington, D.C., whose mission is to use outreach and policy research to promote free markets and limited, effective government.

We have done some work on alcohol regulation, and I’m here today because we find that Florida’s current alcohol separation law needlessly creates extra costs for affected businesses and inconvenience for consumers, which is why we are one of only a handful of states that legally requires such a barrier.

The most common argument against removing this restriction is that doing so will increase underage access to alcohol. But the research does not back up this claim...

Read more at: http://www.rstreet.org/outreach/testimony-on-florida-alcohol-separation-law/

Shifting drinks law landscape in Pennsylvania is a maze for businesses

Lew Bryson writes over at the R Street blog:

The alcohol-policy landscape in Pennsylvania was static—almost glacial—for most of the past 40 years. However, these days, the glaciers are melting and the landscape is changing rapidly. New laws and interpretations are coming every few months.

The evolution in our drinks law is welcome and overdue. But in the short term, it has meant chaos for small businesses struggling to keep up and left some consumers confused about what the changes actually mean.

For decades, Pennsylvania’s unique mess of odd options embodied in its archaic post-Repeal liquor code was tweaked only incrementally. Gradually, we got shelves in our state monopoly wine and liquor stores (before, we had to order at a counter, by catalog number); we were allowed to pay for beer with a credit card; and a fraction of the state stores opened for a few hours on Sundays. These were all tiny changes.

The beverage alcohol retailer/wholesaler situation had been pretty quiet, as well. The state maintained its monopoly on wine and liquor wholesale operations and off-premise retail sales. Beer was supplied by privately owned wholesalers and sold by the case and keg only at retail stores (“beer distributors”) and in 12-bottle maximum purchases at bars and restaurants. Producers were allowed to sell directly. It was confusing, but we were used to it, and family businesses planned major investments based on this system.

Much has changed in the past year, as we’ve entered an activist phase in liquor law...

Read more at: http://www.rstreet.org/2017/03/22/shifting-drinks-law-landscape-in-pennsylvania-is-a-maze-for-businesses/

The New Gender Battle: Tampons v. Whiskey

R Street Institute's Steven Greenhut writes about recently proposed California legislation that would raise alcohol taxes:

It’s getting increasingly difficult to mock the California Legislature given the fusillade of nearly unbelievable legislation that makes its way through the Capitol’s hallowed halls. In the old days, when California had enough legislative Republicans and moderate Democrats to temper things, zany bills would be introduced only to die in committee. These days, the crazy stuff almost always makes it to the governor’s desk.

"With the introduction of a new tax bill last week, the Legislature has officially gone beyond parody. Seriously, I had to double check the quotations in the official press release to make sure someone wasn’t pulling my leg. The bill, A.B. 479, promotes gender equality by reducing taxes on tampons and diapers and then significantly raising them on one of the few escape mechanisms left for Californians — alcoholic beverages....

Read more at: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/the-new-gender-battle-tampons-versus-whiskey/

Appalachia ain’t just moonshine anymore

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle writes about his recent road trip through Appalachia:

It’s not often one can take several weeks off, pile into a car, and hit the open road without any significant responsibilities piling up (or email inboxes overflowing). I was able to do just that in January, before starting my new think tank gig. The result was a two-week road trip — along with my wife — through modern-day Appalachia.

Starting in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and going as far south as Asheville, North Carolina, we discovered an upstart “New Appalachian economy” based loosely around agri-business, food, and booze. Although the region’s economic fortunes have declined alongside that of the coal industry, a small group of entrepreneurial chefs, distillers and brewers are attempting to revive the region by opening up locally sourced, food-focused businesses. In particular, the impressive and nuanced booze offerings the modern-day Blue Ridge region has to offer deserve greater attention...

Read more at: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/appalachia-aint-just-moonshine-anymore/


California lawmakers propose eliminating taxes on tampons, raising taxes on liquor

R Street's Steven Greenhut reports on a recent California legislative proposal for CalWatchDog.com:

In his veto message of a series of tax-reduction bills last September, Gov. Jerry Brown explained that “tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the general fund money.” He said such measures should be on the table during budget negotiations, “so that all spending proposals are weighed against each other at the same time.”

The Common Cents Tax Reform Act, Assembly Bill 479, would “exempt diapers, tampons, pads and other basic necessities from California’s sales tax,” according to a statement last week from its authors. The February version of the bill would have exempted sales taxes from the sale, storage and use of various physician-prescribed medicines, but was amended to target diapers and feminine products.

To deal with the governor’s concerns, its co-authors (Assembly members Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego) want to raise taxes to offset the tax cut. The bill would increase the excise tax by $1.20 per gallon on hard liquor that is 100 proof and and by $2.40 a gallon for liquors that are more than 100 proof.

Read more at: http://calwatchdog.com/2017/03/14/gender-injustice-behind-call-reduce-taxes-tampons/

Texas bill would end wine protectionism

R Street's Josiah Neeley on Texas wine laws:

For her last birthday, my wife got a gift she couldn’t use. Literally. A thoughtful family member had given her a gift card for an online wine retailer. But when she went to redeem the card, she found she was barred from using it because of a Texas law restricting interstate wine sales.

She was, of course, pretty upset by the injustice of all this, as was I. Sadly, it’s just one of many examples of Texas alcohol regulation being used for an anti-competitive purpose.

I hope she hasn’t thrown away the card, though, as things may be about to change....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/2017/03/13/texas-bill-would-end-wine-protectionism/