Some States Want to Ease Alcohol Restrictions to Raise Tax Revenues

Some states are considering legislation that would ease restrictions on alcohol sales, in an effort to increase tax revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For example, New Hampshire may make it easier for residents to buy drinks at bars until 2 a.m., matching closing time for bars in neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts. Texas is weighing whether to allow liquor store sales on Sunday. They are among the states looking for ways to increase revenue without raising taxes.

“If we want to help our businesses out—which helps the local economy—why keep our licensees at a competitive disadvantage? Encourage the locals to stay in New Hampshire and have a drink instead of having to go across the border,” said New Hampshire Representative Mark Warden, who co-sponsored the state measure to allow bars to stay open later.

Efforts to ease alcohol sale restrictions have failed this year in Tennessee, Minnesota and Indiana, the article notes.

State laws regarding alcohol sales vary widely across the country. Grocery stores cannot sell wine and beer in some states, while other states ban the sale of liquor on Sunday. Liquor laws vary within states that allow local authorities to regulate alcohol sales.

Critics of easing alcohol laws say it will lead to more drunk driving accidents, and increase the number of alcohol-related disturbances.

Mark Stehr, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who has studied the effect of alcohol sales on auto deaths and state sales tax revenues, says states may be overestimating the benefits of loosening restrictions. “I don’t think they’ll get a whole lot of money from it,” he said. His research found allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sunday decreased sales on other days. “It brings in a bit more revenue and has no measurable effect on traffic fatalities,” he added.

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    Doug McDowall

    May 4, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    How has the youth unemployment rate been impacted in states where there are no limits on the number of alcohol sales permits, increasing the number of businesses that become “off-limits” as sources of employment to those ‘under 21’ once they begin to start selling beer in non-traditional outlets? And is there any significant difference in youth unemployment rates in a state like Arkansas between the ‘dry’ counties where there are no restrictions where teens can work, and the ‘wet’ counties where thousands of businesses are off-limits to teen employment because they are licensed to sell alcohol?

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