House Bill 575 — Liquor stores, sample tastings

Parrish Miller 2020 House bill ratings Leave a Comment

Bill description: HB 575 makes it possible for distilling companies to hold tastings at state liquor stores.

Rating: +1

Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board’s purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector?

HB 575 establishes a framework through which a manufacturer or supplier of distilled spirits can conduct a tasting of its product or products at a state liquor store. Unfortunately, this bill does not get government out of the business of selling alcohol. But it does give manufacturers and suppliers of distilled spirits a marketing opportunity they do not have under current law.

(+1)

Analyst’s Note: HB 575 is similar to HB 414, introduced earlier this year, but this latest iteration is worse in two respects.

First, it adds a provision that would require the distilled spirits supplier to notify the Idaho State Police before it conducts any tasting event under the rules of this section. Not only is this entirely unnecessary, but it pushes Idaho further in the direction of over regulation of commerce.

Second, it forbids the State Liquor Division from advertising or otherwise promoting to the public a tasting event that is held within the bounds of this legislation. The state holds an absolute monopoly on liquor sales, controls all the stores, and operates the websites for these stores. Yet this government monopoly will not even inform the public about a tasting taking place in a store that it operates. This prohibition serves no rational purpose and is entirely contrary to the logical operation of a business enterprise.