The licensed beverage dealers are really on the warpath against their customers. Don’t get me wrong here. I am no teetotaler. I regularly patronize our local bars and liquor stores. Lately though, they just haven’t been returning the favor.
First there was the initiative to limit the number of liquor store licenses in the county. With Delegates Guy Guzzone and Warren Miller in their pockets, the local liquor store owners are trying to sell the idea that this will help curb underage drinking. Nice try. The only thing that this law will do is limit consumer choice by protecting the existing liquor stores from future competition. Anyone who believes that this will actually curb underage drinking is completely delusional.
To add insult to injury, the licensed beverage dealers are also unwilling to bear a fair share of the state tax burden. Maryland liquor stores, bars and restaurants enjoy one on the lowest liquor excise taxes in the United States. The U.S. median liquor excise tax is $3.75 per gallon. In Maryland it’s $1.50 per gallon. If the state would increase this tax by just a dime it would still be among the lowest in the country yet it would raise $214 million in much needed state revenue. Our Delegates who seem to care so much about underage drinking don’t support this idea though.
The bars and restaurants that we all support claim that this dime increase would hurt their businesses in these trying economic times. I seem to recall that they made the same claim about the smoking ban a few years back and that doesn’t seem to have had an overly adverse effect on the bars and restaurants I frequent.
So far the only local state lawmaker to come out in support of increasing the liquor tax is Liz Bobo. It’s ironic that she is the only one who so far has the balls to stand up against the powerful liquor lobby in Maryland.