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Heading toward the door, Gov. Malloy keeps up liquor law fight

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is nothing if not persistent. The state's chief executive has repeatedly pushed hard for changes to Connecticut's minimum pricing liquor law rule, which he and like-minded thinkers view as price fixing and detrimental to business in the state.

The governor is now in the final innings of his last term, and seems just as determined as ever to forge a change that would allow retailers to sell alcoholic products at prices below statutorily specified bottoms.

Malloy has long argued that Connecticut's law -- which is unique in the United States -- confers an unfair advantage upon mom-and-pop sellers and smaller retailers and unlawfully constrains trade. Removing the minimum, Malloy argues, will result in a higher sales volume and more revenue for state programs.

As we noted in a blog post from last year, opposition to Malloy's view is both strident and widespread. Our September 27, 2017, entry referred to Connecticut's "enduring, vitriolic battle" and reformers' continued frustrations in challenging the package industry's clout-laden lobbyists.

Proponents of the status quo argue that minimum-pricing adjustments would simply enable the state's largest retailers to drive out smaller competitors. Those rivals counter (as we note in the above-linked post) "that price controls are anti-competitive and hurt consumers."

Malloy vows to fight forcefully on behalf of the latter group until his term expires.

There seems to be no real question concerning whether retention of price controls or a repeal of minimum pricing will better enable consumers to keep more bucks in their wallets. Reportedly, a don't-go-below-this-price policy has resulted in alcohol prices in Connecticut that are materially higher than in other states.

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