The New Mexico Legislature introduced House Bill 255 and Senate Bill 6, which would overturn current liquor license laws, allow for home delivery, ignore health, safety and welfare consequences, and negatively impact current license owners.
The bills would create a new Class B license allowing any restaurant to purchase the ability to sell wine, beer and spirits at a minor cost. These bills were developed without any economic or social impact studies.
Neither bill contains any appropriation for additional public safety aspects, including Department of Public Safety officers who monitor alcohol distribution, any funding for local law enforcement, any additional alcohol rehabilitation services and no extensive training for those who deliver the alcohol.
New Mexico has suffered from alcohol-related issues for many years, currently ranks fifth in the nation for DWIs and has continued health disparities related to alcohol abuse. New Mexico Kids Count recently ranked the state as 48th in child poverty and welfare. Domestic violence groups have reported a dramatic increase in calls. Access to additional alcohol will exacerbate any of these fragile situations.
Owners of the existing 1,700 dispenser licenses paid between $300,000 to $700,000 for the privilege to sell alcohol safely and responsibly. Class B would open the flood gates throughout the state for alcohol delivery and sales.
Current owners, who followed state law and used their licenses as leverage for bank loans, would immediately lose their vested value, estimated between $400 million to $600 million. If passed, many of the state’s long-standing restaurant owners and operators would be penalized financially with little or no recourse and would be placed in deeper financial disparity.
Liquor license reform may be necessary, but should be carried out in a thoughtful and inclusive manner involving current owners, potential new owners and, especially, community members. These bills provide a short-sighted solution that does not address any long-term problems that will occur if passed.
Without reliance of any studies, no appropriations and little community input, this bill is irresponsible and disrespectful to the families, friends and communities who have lost someone to DWI and will further diminish our state.