Hearing to discuss alcohol pricing plan held in Hartford - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hearing to discuss alcohol pricing plan held in Hartford

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Governor wants to lower prices of liquor. (WFSB File) Governor wants to lower prices of liquor. (WFSB File)

Consumers and businesses gave their opinions in Hartford on the governor's plan to get rid of minimum pricing rules for certain types of alcoholic beverages.

Currently state laws generally prohibit retail stores from selling alcohol other than beer below a minimum price.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he believes the current laws are unfair to the consumer and hurts the state's tax collections. He said when residents go out of state to buy alcohol, it hurts Connecticut.

"It will inject some additional competition into pricing and it will keep us more competitive with our neighboring states," said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris.

Opponents said this proposed legislation would jeopardize small businesses in the state.

"Eventually what will happen is there will be no more independently owned liquor stores," said Chuck Bowe, who is an owner of three liquor stores.

Connecticut has 1,150 liquor stores, which is about one for every 3,000 people. Massachusetts has almost half that number, with one for every 7,500.

"They can't sell it for below the cost of what they paid for it - and that's really all we are talking about - is changing where that floor is," said Jay Hibbard, of the Distilled Spirits Council.

Mom-and-pop stores are worried about big box stores, which can out-price them, and when it comes to competition, they said it is Connecticut's taxes on liquor that hurts them.

"If the motivation was to get more competitive for Connecticut residents then the place to look would be at our excise tax, which is a lot higher than surrounding states," said Adam Von Gootkin, of Onyx Spirits.

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