Colorado had three alcohol-related deregulation measures on the November vote. Two measures failed. Proposal 124 would have extended the freedom for owners of retail liquor stores to hold an unlimited number of licences. State law currently limits that number to three. The measure, which would have been phased in over the next 15 years, fell almost 2:1.
Strong opposition and Chicken Little-like pleas from independent liquor store owners helped kill the measure. “Colorado voters spoke loud and clear that they prefer locally owned businesses that offer better service than out-of-state corporate interests that want absolute control of the Colorado market,” said Carolyn Joy, owner of Joy Wine and Spirits, in a statement that Denver Post reported.
Other failed Colorado Measure, Prop. 126would have increased consumer choice by allowing licensed alcohol retailers to offer enhanced alcohol delivery services or to work with existing delivery services, and would have made permanent To-go alcohol measures put in place during the Covid pandemic. Like me detailed, many states have moved to making their own to-go cocktail laws permanent. That’s one of the reasons Prop. 126’s narrow loss came as a surprise – with a Alcohol Take Away supporter saying they were “shocked” after the results. Polls released just a week before the election showed Prop. 126 would probably happen. That Lamar ledger called the vote “a surprising turnaround” for a voting measure “that seemed destined to lead to victory on Election Day”.
Though votes are still being counted in Colorado’s third voting measure –Prop. 125– Supporter said this week they had won a victory. The measure would allow any retailer licensed to sell beer to also sell wine. Supporters, led by grocers, portrayed the measure for what it is – a way for grocers to give consumers more choice.
“They want Starbucks, a deli, a COVID booster shot, organic produce and a specialty cheese department in the grocery store, and beer and wine,” said Sheila MacDonald of the Wine in Grocery Stores group. said Colorado Public Radio this week.
In Massachusetts, voters rejected a smorgasbord of booze votes that would have done a lot of largely unrelated things — some good, some not so much. The measure, question 3, would have incrementally increased the number of licenses an alcohol retailer could hold. It’s good. But it would also have banned consumers from using automated or self-service checkouts to purchase alcohol. Not so good.
Another key element of the measure would have changed state law to no longer make it unnecessarily difficult for out-of-state drinkers to legally purchase alcohol in the state. Under State Law, a Massachusetts-issued driver’s license is the only driver’s license the state accepts as identification for the purchase of alcohol. The defeat of question 3 means how WBUR reports, “Out-of-state IDs are still not good for alcohol purchases.” Most out-of-town sports fans still need to carry and drop off a passport to buy a beer at Fenway Park.
Not all of the country’s alcohol-related ballot measures were statewide. In Atlanta, residents voted in favor by a majority of 4 to 1 extend the hours for Sunday retail and restaurant sales of beer, wine and spirits. Victory in an independent referendum in Snellville, a suburb of Atlanta, will allow package stores to purchase liquor licenses.
In addition to these various voting actions, local governments have remained busy regulating alcohol – with markedly different goals and outcomes. The Durham, North Carolina City Council just made it easier for residents to enjoy themselves outdoors Drink. The unanimous vote comes a year after state legislatures allowed cities to create “social precincts” that are exempt from general open-container laws. That Chronicle of the Duke reports that several North Carolina cities — including Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh — have also voted to create these social precincts, expanding the ability of state residents to drink and walk at the same time. Marcella Middleton, a Durham resident, said so timeline that she understands concerns about potential challenges such as public intoxication. Nevertheless, she supported the measure because she says: “You have to let people grow.”
The City Council at Ft. Worth, Texas, Middleton probably wouldn’t agree. This week, her assumed a ban on open containers in what North Carolina would call a “social precinct.” So much for making people grow.
Recent alcohol-related voting measures and local legislation are a classic mishmash. Failure to relax alcohol regulations in Colorado and Massachusetts — and backsliding in Texas — was offset by victories elsewhere in Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina. Overall, the humility of these reform proposals and their relative lack of success suggest that states still have a long way to go to make alcohol sales easier and fairer for vendors and consumers alike.