By Bob Katzen
A bill (H 189) on Beacon Hill gives cities and towns the authority to decide how many liquor licenses are granted in their community. Current law determines the number of licenses that can be granted based on the population of the city or town. To obtain any additional licenses, cities and towns are required to have the request approved by the Legislature.
Supporters argue that local communities, not the state, should have the power to decide how many liquor licenses are granted. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Joseph McKenna (D-Webster) says that almost all the requests to the Legislature are approved with no opposition, but notes the process can take months and require political connections.
“Alternatively, in some areas, if a developer or restaurant owner is fortunate enough to have several hundred thousand dollars, they can just buy one,” said McKenna. “To me this is an arduous burden to entry that limits economic development and protects existing business. It blocks start-ups and entrepreneurs who may want to start a restaurant or store.”