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Liquor Store Owners Ready For Battle Over Minimum Pricing Plan

Operators of small package stores are decrying Connecticut's proposal to eliminate a law that now protects small liquor stores from their larger competitors.

 

A proposal to eliminate the state's minimum pricing law for retail alcohol sales is getting serious opposition from liquor store owners.

The business owners say if the law is repealed, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed, many of them would go out of business, crushed by larger competitors who can buy booze in bulk and set much lower prices.

Testifying before a legislative panel earlier this week, Carroll Hughes, executive director of the Connecticut Package Stores Association, and himself a package store owner, told a legislative committee that the minimum pricing law was established to help protect small business owners against larger competitors who might otherwise sell alcohol at rock-bottom prices, the Connecticut Post reports. 

"It's not a public service, where you sell it at cost," the newspaper quotes Hughes, who testified in Hartford on Tuesday during a public hearing on the plan. He was one of dozens of package store owners who attended the hearing before the legislature's Planning and Development Committee.

Malloy has said the law should abolished because it goes against free market principles and hurts consumers by propping up higher retail prices of alcohol.

"We would not allow the car industry to set a minimum price on cars," Malloy told reporters Tuesday at the state Capitol, according to the Hartford Courant. "We wouldn't allow other industries to conspire to set prices. Somehow and some way, we decided it was OK to charge people in Connecticut more for liquor than they are charged in the surrounding states and to defend that system. And for the life of me, I don't understand it."

Malloy took on the liquor stores association last year when he proposed, and won passage of, legislation to abolish a ban on Sunday alcohol sales, an old law that he said also hurt Connecticut consumers because neighboring states allowed their package stores to open on Sundays.

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