State Rep. Lamar tries again this session. Governor Reeves thinks privatization a worthy goal but wants what’s best for consumers.
State Representative Trey Lamar, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has filed HB 512, a bill that would remove state government from controlling the alcohol warehouse and create a brand new industry in Mississippi for alcohol wholesaling and warehousing.
“It would remove the legal prohibitions that currently exist and would allow businesses to invest millions in capital and create hundreds of jobs across our state,” Lamar said. “Of importance, the package retail and restaurant industry would not be changed by this legislation except that they would make purchases through private companies instead of through the state government.”
Rep. Lamar told Y’all Politics that HB 512 is the same bill that the House convincingly passed last year. That bill was HB 997.
In Mississippi, wines and spirits are sold through the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Department of Revenue (DOR).
Mississippi statute grants the DOR the sole right to import and sell wines containing greater than 5% alcohol by weight and distilled spirits containing greater than 4% alcohol by weight at wholesale within the state.
If the bill passes, the state would be removed from the liquor and wine distribution business by January 1, 2023, and the excise tax on wine and spirits would lower from 27.5% to 18%.
On Tuesday morning, Governor Tate Reeves told Paul Gallo on SuperTalk Radio that wage inflation is a serious issue, especially as it relates to warehouse jobs such as at the ABC. He said getting the state out of the wine distribution is a worthwhile effort.
“The ultimate goal, in my view, should be more consumer opportunity, so more choice for consumers, lower prices and getting those products distributed in a timely manner. Several of those we’re not doing a particularly good job of right now,” Reeves said.
Governor Reeves told Gallo he thinks the goal of privatization is a worthy one but it does not make sense to privatize if consumers see prices go up and choices come down. He says he will be watching as lawmakers consider the options put forth.
You can read the full bill below.