In recent years various groups and individuals have made significant efforts for reform. These include a petition drive, led by Adam Pagnucco, gleaning thousands of signers to End the Monopoly, as well as efforts in the Maryland legislature to seek a voters' referendum on ending the monopoly. Some recent milestones are summarized below:
In 2013, a County Council Nighttime Economy Task Force had considered problems with the County’s nighttime economy and made several recommendations regarding the Department of Liquor Control. [LINK]
In 2015, the County’s Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) studied the DLC and issued an extensive report that determined DLC reform was warranted. The OLO offered several recommendations for reform. These included abolition and full privatization of all alcohol sales, privatization of beer and wine sales and allowing restaurants and bars to order certain specialty items from distributors other than the DLC. [Link to Report]
In 2016, the current County Council supported only the option of allowing restaurants and bars to order certain specialty items from distributors and asked the County’s delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates to introduce legislation to that effect. There was little support for this option from representatives of restaurants, retailers and consumers but the legislation was introduced.
Delegate Bill Frick, who represents District 16 of Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates introduced alternative legislation that would end the monopoly and open the system to competition if the voters approved by referendum. Delegate Frick’s legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Brian Feldman and Nancy King and Delegates Kathleen Dumais, Aruna Miller and Kirill Reznik.
The County Council opposed Delegate Frick's referendum. George Leventhal said the voters should not be allowed to vote on the issue since they would likely be misled into making the wrong choice. Marc Elrich also strongly opposed the referendum.
In 2016, the County Delegation to the House of Delegates and Senate did not support either the Council's or Delegate Frick's legislation.
County Executive Leggett wrote to the delegation and indicated that the County would resolve the matter and neither approach was enacted.
Thereafter, the County Executive appointed another committee that failed to include meaningful consumer representation and ultimately suggested some changes but favored maintaining the monopoly.
Notably, Delegate Ben Kramer opposed the referendum legislation. A Bethesda Magazine article reported that Mr. Kramer, is the landlord and received rent from one of the DLC’s stores although he did not exclude himself from the deliberations. [Link]
In 2017, the Maryland state legislature made it more difficult for microbreweries to compete in Maryland by limiting the barrels of beer they could produce. Comptroller Franchot has sought amendment of the legislation.
Real reform will not come until after the 2018 elections and then only if candidates supportive of or open to reform are elected.