Connecticut

Connecticut Lawmakers Try to Legalize Self-Service Beer Bars

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Self-service beer bars have grown in popularity in recent years as customers enjoy the experience of being able to pour their own brew from a tap. Numerous states still prohibit this type of self-service , however. According to WTNH.com, Connecticut lawmakers may finally legalize self-service for wine and beer in the Nutmeg State:

Imagine getting your beer or glass of wine like you would a fountain soda.  It may soon be a reality in Connecticut

The bill that would allow self-service alcohol machines at bars just got the thumbs up from the House of Representatives. 

You would get a card from the bartender and swipe it at the machine…

Read more here.


Connecticut Considers A Pair of Beer Bills

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After anti-brewery legislation that would have forced state brewers to choose between off-premises and on-premises sales was killed earlier this year, Connecticut lawmakers are now considering several pro-beer bills. According to the Hartford Courant, these would include bills to increase the amount of off-premise beer brewers can sell and allow larger retailers to sell beer in the state:

Advocates for craft brewers and distillers, distributors, restaurants and package stores showed up a legislative hearing Thursday to voice their concerns and support regarding several proposed bills they say will have an impact on their businesses.

Key among the proposed legislation is a bill that would increase the amount of beer craft brewers can sell for off-premises consumption from 9 liters to 23 liters per day…

Another proposed change would allow big-box stores such as Target and Walmart to sell beer…

Read more here.

Connecticut's Minimum Liquor Pricing Laws to Remain

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Connecticut’s previous governor, Dannel Malloy, had emphasized the need to reform the state’s notorious minimum pricing law for liquor, but ultimately was unsuccessful in changing it. Unfortunately, according to the Connecticut Post, the new governor has not prioritized the issue and repeal efforts have been put on the back burner again:

Without a governor that’s taking on the issue, Rep. Michael D’Agostino, co-chairman of the General Law Committee, said there will be no discussion about minimum bottle pricing this year.

Connecticut liquor laws establish a floor for liquor prices that, for the most part, retailers cannot go below.

Former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it amounted to a price fixing scheme. He tried for years to get lawmakers to repeal Connecticut’s minimum pricing laws, but ran into opposition from package store owners who are afraid they wouldn’t be able to compete with large retailers that would undercut them. Malloy argued Connecticut’s laws were unfair to consumers who could drive to a neighboring state and buy their alcohol for much cheaper prices…

Read the rest here.

Connecticut Anti-Craft Beer Legislation Dead For Now

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Connecticut lawmakers have been considering legislative proposals that would force Connecticut brewers to choose between on-premise beer sales or off-premise beer sales, a restriction that would have severely handicapped beer makers in the state. According to the Hartford Courant, the legislation has been dropped (for now):

A battle is brewing between Connecticut’s growing craft beer industry and liquor wholesalers, beer distributors and retailers, who question whether the smaller brewers are following laws regarding how much beer they can sell, and at what price.

The concerns from the wholesalers, distributors and retailers led to a pair of proposed bills that craft breweries saw as an outright attack on the industry, which has grown in Connecticut from a handful to more than 80 in the last several years. One bill would require breweries to choose between on-site or off-site sales, meaning taprooms would have to be closed to sell beer in package stores, restaurants and bars…

The outcry from the brewers resulted in state Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, and state Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, dropping their proposals, but McCrory said the conflict between the craft brewers and the distributors, wholesalers and retailers needs to be addressed…

Read more here.

Connecticut Kills Bill to Allow Distilleries to Serve On-Premise

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Connecticut recently considered a bill that would have allowed distilleries in the state the ability to sell their spirits by the glass to on-premise visitors. According to the CT Post, the proposal was killed in response to opposition from the state restaurant industry:

A plan to allow state distilleries to sell their product by the glass on their premises will likely have to wait until next year.

A proposal before the state Legislature that would have put distilleries on par with their counterparts in the craft beer market was defeated after proponents of the restaurant industry, including state Rep. David Rutigliano, R-Trumbull, raised opposition.

Rutigliano said allowing distilleries — as well as breweries — to serve their manufactured products in a taproom setting is an unfair advantage compared to restaurants and bars. “At some point all these businesses have to decide what business they’re in,” he said. “Either you’re a bar or a manufacturer.”

Read the rest here.

Connecticut Governor Tries Once Again to End Minimum Price Law

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As covered previously on DrinksReform.org, Connecticut has a minimum pricing law that places a floor on the price retailers can charge for a bottle of alcohol in the state. As a result, booze prices in the Nutmeg State are 24% higher than neighboring states. The Newtown Patch reports that Gov. Malloy is trying, once more, to reform this law:

"Perhaps the eighth time's a charm for Gov. Dannel Malloy in his last quest to change Connecticut's liquor laws. Malloy will once again push to allow retailers to sell alcohol below the minimum bottle price.

Malloy has tried for years and argued the move would bring in more tax revenue for the state due to increased sales, but legislators haven't been as keen on the idea, according to CTNewsJunkie...

Last year Total Wine and More sued the State of Connecticut in an effort to rid the minimum pricing on alcohol law. The large retailer contended that the law amounted to price fixing..."

Read mere here.

Connecticut's Liquor Pricing Scheme Is a Bad Law That Just Won't Die

Connecticut's liquor pricing scheme allows distributors and producers to work together to establish a minimum price for booze. As Allie Howell reports in an excellent article for Reason.com, the result is more expensive libations for residents of the Nutmeg State:

"Shoppers in Connecticut pay the price of paternalism every time they frequent a local liquor store. Prices are 24 percent higher than in neighboring states or up to $8 more a bottle, thanks to a law that has its roots in prohibition.

Unlike some other states that prevent liquor retailers from selling below a product's cost, Connecticut instead allows wholesalers and manufacturers to post a minimum per bottle and per case price. Once prices are posted to the Department of Consumer Protections, prices can be amended to match a competitior's before a price is finalized for the next month. Retailers then add their shipping and delivery costs to the per-bottle price and cannot sell below this cost. Wholesalers must sell at the same price to all retailers.

Despite efforts from liquor giant Total Wine and Company and the free-market Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, the pricing cartel continues. Most recently, Total Wine's antitrust lawsuit, which accuses the state of price-fixing, was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this month. Chief United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut Janet C. Hall decided that the complex state regulations do not violate federal antitrust laws.

The archaic pricing system has made business rather cozy for the state's small liquor stores, which never have to worry about competitor's prices..."

Read the rest of the article here: http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/27/connecticuts-outdated-liquor-pricing-law

DrinksReform.org previously covered the federal antitrust lawsuit mentioned in the article here: http://www.drinksreform.org/blog-1/2017/6/7/federal-court-dismisses-anti-trust-challenge-to-connecticuts-liquor-pricing-law

Federal Court Dismisses Anti-Trust Challenge To Connecticut's Liquor Pricing Law

An interesting court case out of Connecticut arose when alcohol retailer Total Wine & More brought a lawsuit arguing that the state's minimum pricing law ran afoul federal antitrust princples. Although the lawsuit was dismissed at the district court level, the interplay between antitrust law and the world of booze could be an interesting trend to monitor moving forward:

"A federal court on Tuesday dismissed an effort that would have lowered prices and increased competition in the Connecticut liquor market by overturning the outdated state system under which manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers combine to establish minimum prices.

In dismissing a suit by retailer Total Wine & More, Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall said the state laws and regulations establishing the complex, Connecticut pricing system cannot be preempted by federal anti-trust law that prohibits activities restricting interstate commerce and competition in the marketplace.

The Connecticut system establishes a floor for liquor prices that, for the most part, retailers cannot go below.

Hall's decision said that she was effectively bound by applicable federal law in Connecticut to uphold a liquor pricing system that legal experts have said was designed years ago to discourage the consumption of alcoholic beverages by Connecticut residents.

Total Wine argued repeatedly in its litigation that the Connecticut pricing system is unfair to consumers and to retailers trying to reduce prices in order to obtain a bigger share of a competitive market..."

Read the rest here: http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-total-wine-lawsuit-dismissed-0607-20170606-story.html

Committee to Hold Hearing on Mail Order Wine Purchases in Connecticut

Connecticut's legislature is considering legislation that would allow consumers in the state to have out-of-state wine shipped directly to their door. The Hartford Courant's Daniela Altimari reports:

"The legislature's finance committee will hold a hearing next week on a bill that would permit Connecticut consumers to buy wine over the Internet.

Under current law, online liquor retailers and out-of-state wine shops are barred from shipping their wares to customers in this state..."

Read more at: http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-committee-to-hold-hearing-on-mail-order-wine-purchases-20170413-story.html

Connecticut legislative panel quietly kills Malloy bill to change liquor laws

Christine Stuart reports:

"The legislature’s General Law Committee quietly killed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bill to change Connecticut’s liquor laws Tuesday.

"The committee, which technically has until March 14 to approve legislation, decided to end its work early this year. That means the bill that would have allowed liquor, beer, and wine retailers to sell their alcohol below what they paid for it never got called for a vote.

"Rep. David Baram, D-Bloomfield, who co-chairs the General Law Committee, said Tuesday that they didn’t have enough support to pass it..."

Read more at http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20170308/connecticut-legislative-panel-quietly-kills-malloy-bill-to-change-liquor-laws