WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Idaho House State Affairs Committee yesterday voted 11-7 in favor of legislation to end the state’s archaic ban on Election Day sales of distilled spirits – a move the Distilled Spirits Council hailed as a benefit to consumers and businesses alike.
House Bill 348 would delete the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic liquors on national, state and local election days for sales of distilled spirits through state-owned and contract liquor stores. An amendment added by the Committee would also end a ban on liquor by the drink sales in bars and restaurants during polling hours. Presently, liquor by the drink is available on Election Day only after the polls are closed.
“Prohibition-era laws make no sense in today’s retail environment,” said Idaho State Liquor Dispensary Superintendent Dyke Nally, who called the Election Day sales ban a relic of the Prohibition-era when saloons sometimes served as polling locations. “Eliminating this prohibition on Election Day sales is a step towards modernizing Idaho’s spirits market and will increase revenues which will benefit the state, counties and cities.”
According to Nally, prohibiting Election Day spirits sales is confusing to customers, a scheduling hassle for businesses and anti-competitive given the fact that beer and wine sales have long been allowed on such days, including restaurant and bar service throughout Election Day.
David Wojnar, DISCUS Vice President, submitted written testimony in support of HB 348 and noted that Idaho is one of only nine states that continue to ban Election Day sales of distilled spirits.
“With the 75th anniversary of Prohibition repeal coming, it is important that we eliminate archaic and inefficient blue laws and regulations,” Wojnar said. “Election Day sales bans only serve to deprive states of important retail sales and tax revenue. With businesses facing increased operating costs and the downturn of the national economy, Idaho cannot afford to lose retail sales and tax revenue.”