House Bill 625 would permit sale of alcohol in Prince George's County grocery stores
Recently the Prince George's County House Delegation introduced HB625 to the Maryland General Assembly that would allow grocery stores that opened in 2021 to sell alcoholic beverages. The legislation addresses what is referred to as “Alcohol density zones.” These are defined as areas having an average of three or more licensed premises with a Class A beer, wine, and liquor license per square mile. The reasoning behind this bill is to address the county's long-standing food desert issue and address its oversaturation of liquor stores in many of its communities.
The bill also approves "the transfer of a Class A beer, wine, and liquor license into a part of certain alcoholic beverages districts in the county if the original licensed premises is in an alcohol density zone."
Del. Jazz Lewis stated in an interview on NBC 4 that “We have complete oversight over our liquor laws, so we are using our power to drive these grocery stores where they are needed most. Under the proposed legislation, small liquor stores that don't want to compete with supermarkets selling beer and wine can relocate to other parts of the county, which they were not allowed to do before. We've had a law on the books for the last 30 years, where they were landlocked into a certain legislative district."
In the same NBC4 segment opponents to HB625 released a statement:
"On the issue of using beer and wine to solve the ‘food desert’ issue, the Maryland Public Health Association submitted written testimony this year stating that there is no research that we are aware of that supports expanding alcohol sales to grocery, chain and convenience stores as an intervention for food insecurity or obesity.’”
It has been reported that both the Prince George's County Council and County Executive Angela Alsobrooks are supportive of this bill. HB625 had its first hearing on February 19th in the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee and CLPA will provide an update on this bill's next steps as it proceeds through the legislative process.
If you want to voice your opinion on HB625 please contact the committee at (410) 841-3519 or (301) 858-3519. You can also email the committee at AA_ECM@mlis.state.md.us in your email be sure to include your home address, zip code, and phone number so the Committee can get back to you as quickly as possible.