By Bruce DePuyt -
State Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) is hoping an unscientific three-day poll of people who follow him on Facebook will stir the General Assembly into loosening state law regarding the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets.
From Nov. 13-15, the state’s tax collector asked his social media followers whether grocery stores should be allowed to sell beer and wine.
Almost all of the 3,064 people who responded to his query answered “yes.” Only 9 percent said “no.”
On Tuesday Franchot sent all members of the state legislature and Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) a letter sharing the results of his survey, which he acknowledged was “informal” and “decidedly unscientific.”
Nonetheless, he expressed the hope that lawmakers will “remain mindful of this expression of public will when considering any future legislation on the subject.”
“In an age when it is highly difficult, if not impossible, to find any issue upon which nine out of every 10 people agree,” Franchot wrote, “this appears to be that rare policy initiative capable of galvanizing support from across partisan, ideological and demographic lines.”
Franchot has long battled the legislature over alcohol sales. He is the craft beer industry’s most enthusiastic backer in Annapolis. This has put him at odds with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who has close ties to the distributors of legacy beer brands.
Most states have a complicated patchwork of laws when it comes to alcohol sales, and Maryland is no exception. Few states have laws that can be summarized in a few words because of decades — if not centuries — of carve-outs determining who can sell beer, wine and spirits, what hours and days they can sell them, state control versus local, etc.
Our favorite rule is Louisiana’s restriction (if you can call it that) on walk-up daiquiri sales.
“Drive-thru frozen daiquiri stands are legal and common, but the police can arrest you for driving with an open container, if you have put the straw in the cup,” according to one report.