(The Center Square) – The head of an industry group representing stores that sell alcohol said he opposes several bills under consideration by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure that would change the state’s quota system for alcoholic beverage licenses.
The reason for that opposition, according to Robert Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Stores Association, is: “It’s large corporate interest outside of Massachusetts coming to gain marketplace control by making it very difficult for local operators to exist in Massachusetts.”
H319 would addresses the license cap for alcoholic beverage operators, while H353 aims to establish a commission to repeal the quota system, Mellion said.
H475 would allow malt beverage from retailers out of state. That would open the door to allow other retailers to ship products to Massachusetts, Mellion said.
Mellion said he does back a bill that requires wine from out-of-state shippers to come from the original manufacturer, which would stop online retailers from shipping the product to state residents.
The committee is also considering a bill that would return decisions about liquor licenses back to municipalities. Rep. Joe McKenna, R-Webster, said he supports the bill.
“This committee often holds the fate of economic development for local communities in our hands as for restaurant development and establishments, and it’s difficult and unfortunate in my mind that restaurants need an act of the Legislature to open a location that has everything else moving forward and ready to go,” McKenna told the committee.
Another bill would prohibit pub-based breweries from distributing their product within Massachusetts.
David Slutz, the owner of Moby Dick in New Bedford, said he can’t legally drop off a keg to his neighbors. But owners of farm-based breweries are allowed to distribute within the commonwealth.
“It’s an issue of fairness,” Slutz said. “It puts us on the same playing field.”
The committee did not vote on any of the bills after the hearing. A roundtable discussion on the legislation is being planned for Sept. 21.