Obstacles to change

Maryland State law currently establishes the monopoly and limits on alcohol sales.  


The State would likely approve legislation proposed by the County through its State legislative delegation to end the monopoly and change aspects of the county's alcohol laws with public pressure. But the County Council in the past has not advocated an end to the monopoly or meaningful reform. 


In response to past efforts to end the monopoly, some County politicians cite as essential to the County's budget the estimated $25 to $30 million that alcohol sales brings to the County’s coffers each year.  Notably, the monopoly also costs money.  The 2018 budget indicates approximately $64 million will be expended for Liquor Control (with very little for actual regulation as compared to running the business) and $10 million is needed annually to pay the interest on the bond debt incurred for the monopoly.


Considering these numbers in relation to the $5.6 billion County budget and the fact that the State Comptroller has projected that revenue far in excess of the amounts earned by County alcohol sales could be repatriated from consumers fleeing the County, if the monopoly were to end, the "money argument" appears to be an excuse for political expediency.  


The real reason the monopoly survives despite public interest in modernization seems to be that the public employees union, Montgomery County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO), wants it to. MCGEO has been a reliable voting block for several politicians in a County with a remarkably low voter turnout.

 

While the views of the union and the DLC employees themselves certainly should be considered, they do not speak for the countless employees and potential employees who would gain employment were MOCO to become a vigorous private market of restaurants and private retailers. They also don’t speak for the businesses and consumers who want the opportunities such a market can bring, nor for taxpayers who are burdened by little business development and ultimately higher taxes. 


Finally, VOCAL MOCO supports  transitioning  DLC employees to good public or private sector jobs and also  helping private businesses transition to a freer market.


It is important for consumers to know that if the workers were transitioned into the private market, the same jobs in private industry in many cases are union jobs--albeit represented by unions other than MCGEO.