Public hearing set for Connecticut liquor law changes

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HARTFORD - Connecticut lawmakers are looking to make changes to liquor laws which could make booze cheaper for consumers. It has some raising a glass, while small business is concerned about the potential hangover.

The General Assembly’s General Law Committee will discuss the topic in a public hearing Tuesday morning.

Potential liquor law changes include a proposal from Gov. Dannel Malloy to eliminate minimum pricing rules for certain alcoholic beverages.

This would mean that stores could sell liquor below the minimum price. Current state law generally prohibits retailers from doing so.

“The reason that it was instituted in the first place, to my knowledge, is to prevent large stores from being able to price at a different capacity than a much smaller, such as a mom and pop, store, like we are here,” Ray Lascelles at Putnam Plaza Super Liquors said. “A smaller store takes in the less volume, can’t discount it at the same price that the large store would be able to.”

While Lascelles doesn’t feel new legislation would hurt his store, many others are not on board with the Governor’s proposal.

The Connecticut Package Store Association said this would give big retailers an edge over smaller ones and could close hundreds of liquor stores in the state.

Malloy’s push is to lower pricing for consumers.

“I think it's probably time to really change that for the betterment of everybody so that you can offer more discounts and give better service to our customer base here,” Lascelles said.

Malloy  also feels Connecticut needs to get on board with other states in the region, according to a press statement.

“Why would government force residents to pay artificially high prices?  It’s illogical and backwards.  We need to be competitive with surrounding states, who have lower prices – and we need to let the market work instead of allowing backwards laws to remain on the books,” Malloy said in the statement.

“You’re either for inflated, artificially high prices, or you’re against them," he said in the statement.  "We’ve done much to reform out liquor laws in a consumer-friendly way, from Sunday sales to allowing stores to remain open later.  But the prices for residents should come down – it’s the commonsense thing to do.”

Legislators will also hear several other proposals Tuesday, including hours of operation for liquor and farm wine sales, as well as allowing free tastings of farm wine at farmer’s markets.