Task force recommends overhauling arcane booze laws

Markets Associated Press

A task force on Thursday released its recommendations for overhauling the state's arcane alcohol laws, some of which date to the end of Prohibition in 1933.

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The report contains recommendations that could mean higher booze prices from higher excise taxes but could also end or amend some confusing and annoying rules. It also proposes ways to battle alcohol consumption by the underage and other vulnerable populations, while spurring economic growth.

The seven-member task force said it considered that "ways to purchase alcohol are changing with time and technology; buying habits of younger generations are evolving; and the market itself is changing as evidenced by increasing numbers of craft and farmer breweries, wineries, and distilleries in Massachusetts and across the country."

Proposals include increasing state excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor and earmarking the revenue for alcohol education and treatment.

Massachusetts does not have a sales tax on liquor, but excise taxes paid by distributors are generally baked into consumer prices.

The task force also recommends abolishing the limit on the number of alcohol licenses grocery store chains can hold and allowing bars to accept out-of-state photo IDs.

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The task force was put together by Treasurer Deborah Goldberg in February. The treasurer's office oversees the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which enforces state liquor laws.

Goldberg said her office will review the recommendations, some of which would require legislative approval.

The recommendations were made with input from the alcohol-related organizations and businesses, consumers and independent research and studies.