Open Letter To America’s Liquor Administrators
AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA'S STATE ALCOHOL REGULATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Dear Alcohol Regulators and Administrators:
Once again, as you have every year since 1934, you are gathering together under the auspices of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators for the annual conference of America's administrators and regulators of state liquor laws. This year you find yourself in Vegas. My understanding is that there are a number of accomplished poker players in your midst so this venue is appropriate.
However, Vegas is an enticing town and can lead even the weakest among us, including this writer, to make mistakes. While engaging in a little poker or blackjack is probably harmless, I want to suggest that as a group you may want to avoid any more over-assertive or unwise actions.
Specifically, I want to suggest that the members of the NCSLA not be enticed into taking any position on the The CARE Act (HR 1161), now currently in Congress.
At last year's gathering of state liquor administrators you hosted an unusually provocative and useful discussion of this bill, at the time labeled HR 5034. Yet in the end, unlike your counterparts at the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, you chose to stay neutral on the issue and not endorse it. Nor did you make a statement of opposition.
There is no question that in your various home state capitals, you have been asked to make a statement of support for this bill. You have all generally resisted the temptation and the incitement to do so. THIS IS THE PROPER STANCE FOR PEOPLE IN YOUR POSITION TO TAKE.
As administrators of your various codes and laws concerning alcohol, your charge is to carry out and administer these various regulations that have been put in place by elected officials in your state. I refer you to a key part of the stated purpose of the NCSLA: "to devise and promote the use of methods which provide the best enforcement of the particular alcoholic beverage control laws in each state."
This purpose acknowledges that the regulations you enforce in each state are placed into law by elected officials, not by appointed regulators who are not accountable to the people.
This same framework for understanding the critical work of state alcohol administrators applies equally to your counterparts at the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. However, they violated the principle of being strong administrators rather than strong advocates for a specific political position when they issued their resolution last year supporting the Care Act. This was a severe and shameful violation of the public trust that is placed in them.
It is to your credit as individuals and as an organization that you were not enticed to nor did you engage in this same kind of misuse of public trust by endorsing or opposing the Care Act then and that you won't during this year's conference.
The Care Act is a political issue at this point, not an administrative issue."Politics" is not a dirty word. It is the process through which the public's voice is communicated. Through the political process, decision will be made as to whether constitutional protections ought to be stripped from parts of the alcohol beverage industry or if those long standing protections ought to remain in place. Either way, I and citizens and voters across the country trust that the administrators of our alcohol laws won't take matters into their own hands and will remain administrators and regulators, and not be enticed into becoming politicians.
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I doubt this will make it to your blog. Our government affairs firm is working on H.R.1161. Our clients are concerned that although this is made out to be a “states rights” issue, it can hurt small online wine sales businesses.
There will be a lot of people. I hope that this conference will be useful.
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