A final w(h)ine about supermarket sales

By now, the debate over Gov. David Paterson’s desire to improve state revenues by allowing supermarkets and other big-box retailers to sell wines has apparently boiled down to two entrenched camps slugging it out with each other.

• On one side, we have the governor, looking for revenues for a dysfunctional government hurtling into the red and not able to pay all its bills. He is supported by many super markets and state winemakers who want to expand the availability of wine to the public rather than continuing the current tightly-controlled situation that stifles open competition.

• On the other side, we have liquor store owners bitterly opposed to more competition, some state winemakers who fear groceries would flood the market with cut-rate out-of-state wines, and those who fear such an expansion would somehow increase underage drinking even though that hasn’t happened in the dozens of states that allow sales in markets.

Each camp has made alliances with all sorts of individual and caucus-member politicians, ad hoc industry groups, law enforcement types, social services types and the like.

The problem is, in the past two months no one has come up with anything new to say on the topic, but they won’t stop talking.

What we need now is for the Legislature to come up something in the proposed 2010-2011 state budget that will address the proposal or kill it. To keep it alive someone has to come up with an idea that will break the logjam.

That may be happening.

Daniel Posner, managing partner at Grapes the Wine Company in White Plains has tweeted about a new proposal he said he has heard from legislative negotiators.

According to him, the proposal would offer existing retailers two medallions which are needed to keep or get a license for wine retailing. One medallion would be for their current store, and the second could be kept to open a second location, held until the market situation clarifies, or sold off to another company wishing an extra medallion. That would be part of a three-year program.

Sounds worthy of public debate. Let’s hope it receives it.

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About Bill Dowd

Webmaster/social media coordinator for the Southern Rensselaer County NY Rotary Club.

Posted on April 10, 2010, in Business, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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