INVESTIGATE THE BAY STATE’S MINIMUM PRICING LAWS

By Bob Katzen

This bill (H 207) – Creates a commission to investigate the economic impact of the state’s minimum pricing laws on businesses and consumers.

“The minimum pricing laws for tobacco, alcohol and milk have existed for many years,” said sponsor Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) who is the chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. “As such, it is good public policy to periodically review the impact of these laws to make sure that they are still in the best interest of Massachusetts consumers and businesses.”

A summary of the measure provided by Chan’s office says that after World War II, many minimum pricing laws were instituted as protections to prevent wholesalers and retailers from using any products as “loss leaders.” “Technology and advances in federal law eventually made minimum pricing laws obsolete,” reads the summary.

Opponents of minimum pricing laws say they create an artificial profit subsidy for businesses and hurts retailers and consumers by making the price of some products naturally higher in Massachusetts than in neighboring states. They note that many residents go to neighboring states to purchase alcohol, milk or tobacco products at a lower price and say that the rise of Internet commerce has allowed many residents to simply purchase some of these items online.

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