Outdated Liquor Laws Need Changing In Md.
I read with interest Shawn Soper’s Dec. 22 article “Petition Effort Underway Against Big Box Stores Selling Alcohol.” The petition effort described by Ms. Elliot-Carr, executive director of the Worcester County Licensed Beverage Association, is another grab by opponents to keep outdated and outmoded liquor laws on the books in Maryland.
Restrictive liquor laws that keep beer and wine out of grocery and convenience stores go against the wishes of a majority of Marylanders. A recent Gonzalez poll shows 73% of Marylanders support the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores. This support is strong regardless of age, political party, and gender and is even stronger (76%) in rural districts. Maryland law generally permits local jurisdictions to decide how to regulate alcoholic beverage sales. This results in a patchwork of different laws in different areas, leading to consumer confusion, and protecting liquor stores from competition. Forty-two out of 50 states allow some form of alcohol sales in grocery or convenience stores, but not Maryland.
In the article, Ms. Elliot-Carr says that changing liquor laws would benefit “big corporations.” Although some larger chains may benefit, there are many mom-and-pop grocery and convenience stores that would be able to add sales that will stabilize their businesses. Fresh-food grocery stores operate at 1-3% profit margins, and beer and wine sales can make a critical difference in the industry. The ability to sell beer and wine is often a deciding factor in determining locations for new stores and reducing food deserts. Other states have found that smaller liquor stores have not been negatively affected by legislative changes that allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine.
Ms. Elliot-Carr focuses on the “stringent training courses” that local package store clerks undergo to allow them to check ID, and recognize intoxicated purchasers. Store clerks at grocery and convenience stores are required to check ID for cigarette and other controlled substance purchases every day. Individual stores choose training programs that help their clerks do their jobs best. Liquor stores do not have a lock on training programs. Right now, however, they do have a lock on the beer and wine marketplace.
Changing Maryland’s antiquated liquor laws is the right thing to do. It’s what Marylanders want, and will bring more convenience, more choice and a level playing field.
(The writer is the president of the Maryland Retailers Association, Maryland Association of Chain Drug stores, Tri State Jewelers Association and the Maryland Food Industry Council.)
Editor Blamed For Letters
I just finished reading “Letters to the Editor” in the Dec. 18 issue of The Dispatch. The definition of editor: a person who is in charge of and determines the final content of a text, particularly a newspaper or magazine.
It seems you don’t understand that definition or you support this nonsense. You printed Mr. Thrasher’s letter. He did not have one stat to support his position. It was nothing more than hyperbole. The FBI estimated law enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.1 million arrests, (excluding those for traffic violations) in 2019. The arrest rate for violent crime was 156.3 per 100,000 inhabitants or less than less than half of a percent. Deaths are a much lower percentage. Furthermore, Mr. Thrasher seems to call for “productive law reform” with absolutely no specifics or stats to support his position yet again. You printed this. He seems to assign blame to all police. I wonder what his remedy would be on the murder rate in Chicago? Is that all due to ineffective policing? Are they not “protecting and serving”? It’s certainly seems Mr. Thrasher is either uninformed or clueless. How does that reflect on you Mr. Green?
And as far as Mr. Yeich’s letter, again, uniformed or a political pundit or both? This virus is spreading around the world. Are all the world’s leaders inept? Are they all personally responsible for the spread? Maybe Mr. Yeich should apply to the WHO and/or CDC? His letter is nothing more than a clueless rant. And again, you printed it.
Now I understand you make every effort to provide news on local events. You also provide a platform for local ads, real estate and coupons. Maybe you should stick to that and that alone.
West Ocean City
Maryland Loses Again
Congratulations to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for leading the public-private partnership that awarded contracts to provide manufacturing facilities for offshore wind components on the Delaware river seaport in Paulsboro, N.J. Governor Murphy’s vision directed a broad coalition of labor, industry, and government leaders, addressing both the climate crisis, caused by too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and unemployment caused by the pandemic. It is no secret that America leads the world with an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, the cause of the excess CO2 in our air. America also leads the world in pandemic related disruptions.
Governor Murphy’s Dec. 22 announcement will mean the loss of huge economic benefits for Maryland because of New Jersey’s leadership in the development of our clean energy future. This is a function of the lack of visionary leadership from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, US Congressman Andy Harris from Maryland’s 1st congressional district, and Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.
In my opinion, Maryland’s inability to compete with New Jersey for this huge regional economic prize, is a result of one important political fact. Republicans under Donald Trump have consistently denied the reality of the climate crisis. This is caused by the strict Republican commitment to preserve the status quo by defending the financial health of the fossil fuel industry. Our future begins with the leadership to work toward solutions that address the causes of both our economic and climate injustice problems.
It may not be too late for Maryland to build on the economic benefits of our clean energy future. Our Children’s future does not depend on the health and well-being of the fossil fuel industry. The future of health and well-being of our posterity is dependent on the health of our planet. This good economic news for New Jersey helps to put all future politicians on notice. The outcome of future elections will be awarded to candidates who help lead us into the just economy of a carbon free future.