House considers shifting state’s liquor distribution from state to private sector

House considers shifting state’s liquor distribution from state to private sector
Should the business community run the state’s liquor distribution? (Source: wdam)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Should the business community run the state’s liquor distribution?

That’s what lawmakers in the full House are considering Friday after HB 997 unanimously cleared a House committee this week.

House Bill 997 takes the power of distributing liquor out of the hands of the Mississippi Department of Revenue and allows the private sector or business world to run the state’s warehouse in Gluckstadt.

In part, the bill reads, “To remove the Department of Revenue from being a wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages within this state... To authorize a holder of a wholesaler’s permit to distribute alcoholic beverages throughout this state to properly permitted retailers for resale.”

Since the 1960s, the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has worked with vendors who deliver to the warehouse, then the business community purchases alcoholic beverage products, except for native wines, from ABC.

Rep. Trey Lamar (R), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the legislation, one of several bills that could affect this industry.

SB 2804, also introduced this week, would allow for home delivery of beer, wine, and hard liquor.

Many Mississippians drank their way through the pandemic, as reports proved the state’s liquor sales shot up.

Commissioner Chris Graham, of the Mississippi Department of Revenue, told lawmakers in January that the warehouse shipped out 4 million cases of liquor last year, compared to a 3.5 million average number of shipments in recent years.

June 2020, David Rushing of Joe T’s in Ridgeland told WLBT, “The volume was unbelievable. I think at first people were concerned that they were going to close us down and that hit real hard so everybody was just going crazy to make sure they loaded up on something.”

By July 2020, ABC had to stop all orders for several weeks because they couldn’t keep up with the demand.

WLBT will keep you posted on any progress this bill makes.

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