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McGrady's bill to reform 'antiquated, inefficient' liquor laws advances

Following a major victory last week with the passage of Senate Bill 290, state Rep. Chuck McGrady pushes on today in  his efforts to modernize North Carolina’s Alcoholic Beverage Control system. The House ABC Committee, which he co-chairs, will hear his bill (House Bill 971).

 

Saying that the state’s 80-year-old system for the distribution and sale of distilled spirits is outdated and inefficient, McGrady is seeking to reform government management of the wholesale and retail sale of distilled spirits — while also increasing revenue to the state and to local governments. The bill’s other primary sponsors are Republican Reps. Jon Hardister and Rep. Jason Saine and Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat.

The bipartisan bill replaces the state’s total monopoly on the sale of liquor with a system of permitting and taxation that’s modeled on the way wine and beer are sold. “We’ve already proved that there is a sensible path forward in replacing this inefficient state monopoly with a licensure model that already works for beer and wine,” said McGrady. “We can ensure public safety and streamline operations — all while enabling private sector investment and increasing revenue to local communities, for important priorities like education.”

McGrady has done considerable work on the legislation since first filing the bill back in April in order to address the concerns of some legislators who were reluctant to change a system that has been in place since the repeal of Prohibition in 1937.

“This is one of the most complex pieces of legislation that I’ve ever worked on — it remains a work in progress, but I wholeheartedly believe we can get there,” he said. “Today’s hearing is just the beginning of what I hope will be a meaningful conversation about replacing outdated laws that not only fail to meet the demands of today’s consumers, but also constrain opportunities for economic growth.”

With nearly 170 ABC boards scattered across the state, North Carolina is the only state in the nation where local government boards have total control over retail liquor sales to consumers and businesses. A report by the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Program Evaluation Division in February revealed that many ABC boards oversee inefficient operations that result in little or no money left over after expenses are paid. The licensure model put forth in HB971 eliminates this waste and returns more dollars to state and local governments. Although HB971 would maintain the ABC Commission’s role in permitting and enforcement, it leaves distribution and retail sales to the private sector.

HB971 is the latest effort by Rep. McGrady to modernize North Carolina’s ABC laws. “It’s about time to turn the page on this antiquated, inefficient system,” said McGrady. “I think our citizens and businesses are more than ready to be treated like we live in the 21st century.”

To hear a live broadcast of the House ABC Committee’s discussion of House Bill 971, which begins at 3:00 pm in room 1228 of the Legislative Building in Raleigh, click here.

To learn more information and easily contact legislators in support of HB971, visit www.FreetheSpiritsNC.com or text FIXABC to 52886 to receive updates about the bill and other ways to become involved.