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Perry 2018
David Perry for NC House
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Reforming Our Liquor Laws

Reforming Our Liquor Laws

Unfortunately, North Carolina only ranks 35th out of 50 states when it comes to alcohol freedom. In contrast, Massachusetts (the birthplace of Puritanism) is ranked 10th! This is a digraceful statistic for North Carolinians who pride themselves on their love of liberty.

Personal Freedom

It is particularly disgraceful that we do not recognize the freedom of 18-20 year old adults to consume an alcoholic beverage if they choose to. These young adults are considered old enough to vote, pay taxes, and even serve in our miltary. We consider them old enough to sign contracts, get married, and to keep and bear arms. If they commit a crime, we send them to adult jail and not to juvenile detention. Yet, they are not old enough to drink a beer!? Preposterous!

Our great state once did recognize this right. Before 1983, any adult in North Carolina could drink any type of alcohol they pleased once they reached the age of 18. In 1983, this freedom was restricted to beer and wine for individuals under the age of 21. In 1984 the US Congress passed the Drinking Age Act of 1984. It mandated that individual states pass legislation that would restrict all alcohol consumption to those adults who were 21 years of age or older. If a state did not comply, it would forfeit 10% of its federal highway funds. While the penalty for non-compliance has been reduced to 8% of a state's federal highway funds, this federal law is still in effect.

The US Constitution does not grant our federal government with the authority to set a national drinking age. This is a clear violation of State's Rights and the 10th Amendment. Congress skirted the 10th Amendment by utilizing the potential loss of federal highway funds. If North Carolina decided to revert back to an 18 year old drinking age they would NOT be violating any federal law. The worst that could happen is that we could lose 8% of our federal highway funds.

However, we live in a state that is still dominated by a strong "Bible Belt" voter bloc. They are represented by politicians who wrongfully feel that it is the government's responsbility to protect people from their own wrong choices. They believe that it's fine to punish a whole segment of our adult population for what they MIGHT do. That is unpatriotic and unAmerican, but the reality of the situation. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see a statewide drop in the drinking age anytime soon.

On the other hand, I believe there are more enlightened counties within the state, and I believe New Hanover County is one of them! I believe, that when presented with the opportunity, that New Hanover County, or its voters by way of a citizens initiated ballot measure, would at least support lowering the age for drinking beer and wine to 18. Our county's voters realize that prohibition simply does not work. These young adults are still going to drink. They are just going to bring that drinking underground to dangerous frat or house parties. These environments are dangerous, and feature highly risky binge drinking, illicit drug use, and occurrences of rape are not uncommon in these environments. That's why over 135 university presidents, from across the country and across the political spectrum, support lowering the drinking age. Organizations like the Amethyst Initiative and Choose Responsibility are actively lobbying for changes to the drinking age across the country. By allowing these young adults to drink legally in public, we will place them in a better environment that encourages responsbile drinking.

Finally, if New Hanover County was able to lower the drinking age on a countywide level, there would be huge financial gains for our tourism industry. We would quickly become the "vacation destination" for every young adult and college student in America! Once we can do this successfully, people will see that the sky isn't going to fall. Other counties, and eventually the whole state of North Carolina will follow our lead.

Business Freedom

With historic downtown Wilmington and the county's beautiful beaches, New Hanover County is great place for tourism! While our tourism industry is relatively strong, it pales in comparison to other destinations, such as Myrtle Beach. We can do better!

Let's face it, when people go on vacation they like to drink, and do so at a reasonable cost. However, our bars and restaurants are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to competing with bars and restaurants in other states. First of all, our state has a complete monopoly on hard liquor. All hard liquor must be purchased through the Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC). Without competition, this leads to higher prices for consumers. In addition, our bars and restaurants are not allowed to just purchase their hard liquor at a county ABC store. Instead, they have to get a special green sticker for each bottle purchased. On average, this amounts to about $6.00 more per bottle than what is charged to normal consumers. The additional cost is therefore passed on to our tourists, along with the accompanying sales tax. Higher prices at our bars and restaurants will lead to discerning travellers traveling elsewhere.

Furthermore, our bars and restaurants have to put up with some of the most ridiculous liquor laws in the country. Our businesses are not allowed to have a happy hour drink special. Our businesses are not allowed to have a ladies night. Our bars are required to issue membership cards to every visitor that enters if they do not serve enough food there. Our businesses are not even allowed to advertise an all-day drink special at their establishment; not even on the window of their own bar or restaurant!

Finally, beer and wine distribution is tightly controlled by an oligopoly of preferred distributers. We have several local breweries that brew fantastic and popular craft beer. However, current state law requires that if a local brewery brews more than 25,000 barrels within a year, they can no longer distribute their own product. They are literally forced to use one of the state's preferred distributers. Besides the additional cost of distribution, these local breweries often get substandard service from these distributers because they have preferred contracts with national breweries like Miller and Anheuser-Busch.

Under my "Legalize Local Liberty" initiative, New Hanover County, or its voters through a citizen initiated ballot measure, would be allowed to ignore any and all of these silly restrictions on the area's businesses. Breweries could deliver their own beer, no matter how much they make per year. Bars and restaurants could ignore silly liquor laws that make no sense. And New Hanover County could allow private liquor stores to open, competing with the ABC and driving down the prices for residents and visitors alike.

Paid for by the Committee to Elect David A. Perry

© 2018 - Committee to Elect David A. Perry
235 Silver Sloop Way, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Direct Legal Inquiries to: Christopher M. Nance, Treasurer
512 Martin Street, Carthage, NC 28327