Massachusetts Beverage Business


The Massachusetts Senate has approved an economic development bill that would eliminate the cap on liquor licenses statewide and set forth guidelines for cities and towns to control licensing on their own, rather than forcing them to petition the Legislature for new licenses. An amendment, adopted during debate, created a different set of rules for the city of Boston. The proposal gives power to cities and towns to make decisions about who receives liquor licenses, and how many a community can allow. Holders of existing liquor licenses would be grandfathered from the change. The proposed bill now rests with a six-member conference committee that has yet to be appointed. While state lawmakers routinely give communities additional liquor licenses through special bills, proponents of changing the law and of the Senate bill have argued that the current system is arbitrary and inequitable, while others say a widespread lifting of caps would shortchange current license holders looking to sell or use their own licenses as collateral. Along that line, Sen. Brian Joyce, D-Milton, successfully sponsored an amendment to the current law that would eliminate the transferability of liquor licenses, requiring that once the holder of a license decides to give up their establishment the license reverts to the local licensing board rather than to the new owner.

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