A recent telephone poll conducted by Opinion Works revealed that over half of Maryland voters support a ten cent increase in the state liquor tax. According to this story by Len Lazerick in Maryland Reporter “Legislative leaders have repeatedly pledged to pass no new taxes this election year, but a new poll says half of Maryland voters think they should make an exception for a 10-cent per drink tax on alcohol.”
It’s not likely to pass this year though. Powerful lobbying efforts by the states licensed beverage dealers and the restaurant association are working to keep it bottled up in committee. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun, they’ve done a good job working on the Howard County delegation.
“Only one of the county's 11 legislators supports a no-strings-attached alcohol tax increase, while five, including all three Republicans, oppose the idea outright. And four lean toward being against it but are willing to listen, they said.”
It’s pretty much the same story with the state laws that prohibit the direct sale of wine to consumers. According to this story by Julie Bykcowicz in The Sun, “The movement to legalize wine shipping has grown to more than 20,000 supporters, according to Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, an advocacy organization. Dozens of social media and e-mail groups have sprung up.” And even though a majority of the senators on the health committee considering the measure support it, the committee chair, Senator Joan Carter Conway, doesn’t and has successfully kept it from moving forward.
Why this disconnect between what the voters wants and what our state legislators want?
I’m not exactly sure but it could have something to do with the fact that the liquor lobby isn’t keen about any changes in the status quo of the Free States archaic liquor laws.
“The liquor lobby that protects the system is one of the top campaign contributors, giving to more than 80 percent of the 188 General Assembly members - all of whom are up for election this fall.”
Your friendly neighborhood liquor store is friendlier with the politicians than the consumers.