Success! Liquor law reform is passed, but the fight isn’t over
On Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill to reform Minnesota’s liquor laws. Nicknamed the “Free the Growler” bill, the measure raises the annual cap on craft beer production from…
The pandemic has also shown up how pointless many of our state’s existing liquor laws are. The distance requirement between liquor stores in Saint Paul, for example, exists solely to protect existing liquor stores from newcomers who might offer consumers a more attractive product or service. Rather than try to compete on quality or price, they opt, instead, to have local government simply make it illegal to even attempt to offer something better. It is, indeed, both morally and economically indefensible.
Many of Minnesota’s arcane alcohol laws exist for the same purpose: to force consumers to buy the products of businesses who don’t feel confident in their ability to compete with potential newcomers on quality or price. It is, for example, illegal in Minnesota for a craft brewery to directly sell you a four pack of beer they themselves have brewed. Why? Because then you might decide to buy your four packs from that brewery and that is not a choice the existing alcohol retailers want you to have. It is protectionism, pure and simple.
This is bad enough at the best of times, but it is especially bad when the state government is hammering these breweries with another shut down. So, the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild is asking the state legislature to:
These measures really are no brainers. We urge Minnesotans who value this thriving industry to sign the Guild’s petition here.
John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.