HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-State lawmakers are studying a proposal that would reduce their involvement in the business of booze.
State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is drafting legislation that would close down the retail division of the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control board, potentially saving taxpayers up to $50 million per year while also ending a monopoly that goes back to the Prohibition era.
State law currently prohibits private businesses from selling hard liquor unless they buy their supplies from the ABC wholesale division, which also operates hundreds of retail locations across Alabama. Orr told WHNT News 19 that the costs of the current monopoly far exceed any benefits, and says the current setup is outdated.
"Alabama is one of only eight states that are still in the retail business when it comes to selling liquor," said Orr. "This is something we're going to be looking at and are looking at at the legislative level...Preliminary estimates say that we could save as much as $40 or $50 million if we got out of the retail business. Most of the other states have done it."
Senator Orr said lawmakers are still gathering research, but added that any potential legislation would not impact the enforcement side of the ABC. That division makes sure that all stores are compliant with state laws on alcohol, and conducts investigations on alleged violations. Orr also told WHNT News 19 that the bill would include wording that limits the number of liquor stores able to operate within a given area.
Several states have also ended their hard liquor monopolies recently, including the state of Washington earlier this year.