A new bill was introduced yesterday here in my home state of Minnesota that is aimed at making wine available in most grocery stores. The Wine With Dinner bill was introduced by Senator Linda Scheid (D – Brooklyn Park) and Representative Phyllis Kahn (D – Minneapolis).
Like some states, Minnesota has liquor laws that have been nearly unchanged since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Powerful interests control the sale of alcoholic beverages in the state and our taxes on wine are among the highest in the country. This control over supply has also reduced competition so we tend to pay more for wine here than most states (I’m always surprised to see how inexpensive wine is on my trips to California, for example).
I hope this law passes but I’m not getting my hopes too high as this issue has been defeated in the past. Let’s hope this time the status quo in Minnesota wine distribution will change.
While I agree with you entirely on the fact that reduced competition increases prices because it allows the wholesalers and retailers to work on higher margins, I think it’s misleading to imply that the issue is that simple or that wine prices there can ever be as low as California. In California there is often no distributor involved at all, which will unlikely ever be the case here in Minnesota (or at least not or a very, very long time). Cut out the middle man and cut out some of the price increase. Also, the cost of shipping the wine to Minnesota from California is quite high, will probably remain high, and definitely impacts the price of the wine. Thirdly, Minnesota’s tax structure has a lot to do with our prices here, and tax rates are unlikely to be affected by increased competition. So, bottom line, you’re absolutley right, but this proposed law change for increased competition is only a small part of our battle. A good first step.
oh, oops, you made the tax point in your post…good point. The rest of my just-submitted response holds true.
Thanks for bringing up the 3-tier system, Sue. You are correct that the issue is quite complex and based upon outdated law, so I will be posting a bit more on the issue this weekend.
Garrick Van Buren says
I’m all for changing the current status quo. While it’d be convenient to have wine available at the grocery store – it’d be more convenient to be able to purchase it after 8pm.