Change Could Come to Massachusetts Liquor License Regulations

Liquor LicenseBostInno’s Steve Annear reports today on the efforts of elected officials in Massachusetts to change the liquor licensing regulations in the state. One of the main ideas explored is a bill filed by State Senator James Eldrige of Action to allow individual cities and towns, not the state, to determine how many liquor licenses are issued in each town. Currently there is a cap (tied to local population) to the number of licenses that can be issued in each municipality.

“In order to go above the current number of licenses in a given community, local lawmakers can petition the State Legislature, but Eldridge said getting it approved ‘can take six months to a year to pass.’ The license requests also need to be approved by the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission, the sole agency responsible for issuing licenses in the Bay State. That process can stall restaurants from opening up and cause business owners to flee to other communities that haven’t filled their quota, said Eldridge.”

Annear also talks with Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley who wants to change the liquor license distribution process in Boston where the number of licenses is currently capped at 650 full liquor licenses and 320 malt and wine licenses.

“Pressley claims current license holders in Boston often sell their permits to bidders, netting anywhere from $ 50,000 for a beer and wine license to $450,000 for an all-inclusive liquor license. In July, Pressley filed a motion to hold a hearing at City Hall to talk about the ‘lack of flexibility for Boston to locally control the liquor license distribution process,’ calling it ‘lengthy, burdensome and costly for businesses.'”

This article raises some interesting questions about the liquor license regulation process in Massachusetts. How do you think the system should be changed? Should the state retain control or should more control be given to cities and towns?

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