Since the recession began, states across the country have been reaching far and wide to find ways to grow tax revenues, and a big target that many are finding is alcohol sales.
According to this New York Times article, twelve states have changed alcohol-related taxes and laws to bump up revenues. Here in Georgia, our state legislature has even cleared the way to allow local governments to let voters choose Sunday alcohol sales in retail outlets. We are one of three states with an archaic Sunday ban on retail liquor sales. One study predicts that this move could generate up to $4.8 million for the state.
Tennessee legislators passed a law that allows breweries to produce and sell “high-alcohol” beers, to encourage California-based craft brewer Sierra Nevada’s interest in expansion to East Tennessee. Tennessee is also among several states that have implemented “tasting laws,” which permit stores to host product tastings and encourage purchases through sampling.
Alcohol producers and marketers generally support these types of legislative changes that open up markets to them. Religious groups and public health organizations may not be as supportive, with claims that more access to alcohol means more health and public safety problems.
While it’s distressing that it took a major economic downtown to spur these changes, it’s a positive trend that new markets and new opportunities are opening up for businesses as a result of these legislative changes. Expanding the opportunity for sales of any legal product means more jobs and more commerce in our country. Those who choose not to partake still have that option. Everyone’s happy.