The 2019 Montgomery County Executive and County Council have been sworn in and begun their work. The Maryland Legislative Session has begun as well.
For consumers who seek to end the County's alcohol monopoly and bring the County's alcohol laws into the 21st Century our work is cut out for us. Join us in this pursuit but first...
The Voters Opposing County Alcohol Laws in Montgomery County, Maryland (VOCAL MOCO) is a nonprofit advocacy organization established by Montgomery County (MOCO) consumers.
Its purpose is to end MOCO's alcohol monopoly and modernize the County's alcohol laws.
THIS ISN'T MAYBERRY, IT’S MONTGOMERY!
Yet the anachronistic state and county restrictions on alcohol sales to consumers in Montgomery County, Maryland better fit an America of a century ago, when these laws were initiated, than the
unique, modern county we live in.
Montgomery County, Maryland, with a population of more than one million people--greater than the population of each of six states--enjoys a dynamic, highly educated, affluent and well traveled population. Yet this same population, unlike residents of the District and the nearby Virginia suburbs, but like the residents of Alabama and Mississippi, is saddled with some of the most backward alcoholic beverage laws in the Nation, dating back nearly a century.
In Montgomery County, the County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) monopolizes wholesale and retail alcohol sales. Under state and county laws, restaurants and beer and wine retailers must purchase beer and wine from the DLC. Consumers as well as restaurants must buy their liquor from the County. All but four chain grocery stores as well as drug stores, convenience stores and bigger stores like Costco and Sam's may not sell beer or wine to MOCO consumers.
These restrictions have proven bad for consumers [LINK] and bad for businesses [LINK] and bad for the County itself. Reform of these laws is long overdue.
Although there have been significant efforts at reform in recent years, these efforts have been unsuccessful. The union representing the employees of the DLC's business and delivery operations
have fought meaningful change notwithstanding that employees could be transitioned to good union jobs in the private sector or other public sector jobs. To provide an additional rationale for the status quo, key county politicians say the County depends on the $25-30 million dollars garnered from county alcohol sales.
The relative size of even $30 million in sales to the total $5.6 billion budget, however, make this argument disingenuous. It is even more so since Maryland officials, notably including the Maryland State Comptroller, point out that the revenue to the County and the State, if the monopoly ended and a private market allowed to flourish, would result in new and repatriated revenues which would far exceed any lost county sales.
Clearly, what has has kept the monopoly going until now has been political activity on one side of the issue. VOCAL MOCO was formed to provide a focus for other views...believed to be shared by a large majority of County voters. These voters support an end to the monopoly and reform of County alcohol laws because consumers--from millenials to seniors--businesses, other workers and the vitality of life in the County matter, too,
VOCAL MOCO, therefore, seeks action at both the county and state level to end the DLC’s monopoly and reform these laws. It intends to inject its views into this year's election campaigns and will publicize the views of the candidates on this issue in this space. Beyond the election, it will advocate reform until reform is achieved.
We hope you will--
It's past time. Together, we can achieve alcohol reform for consumers, businesses and the future our County.